- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Dan Snyder has an obligation to maximize the profit-margin line of the Washington Redskins.

That is what those in business do. They are forever taking the pulse of the marketplace and determining where they can wrest further profits from the operation.

The trick is to forge a balance between cost and demand, which Snyder has managed well in his stewardship of the Redskins. He undoubtedly overreached in the personnel end of the team in his first few years, but he has turned the Redskins into one of the most valuable franchises in all of sports.

The latest ticket hike of the Redskins is hardly surprising after the team made the playoffs last season. Teams, like other businesses, raise prices to remain competitive. If not, they suffer the consequences.

Price hikes are inevitable in professional sports. What seems outrageous today will appear to be a bargain in the years ahead.

Those expressing displeasure with the latest profit-making move of the Redskins are missing a fundamental point of the fan/team relationship. They do not have to buy what this business is peddling, not unless they are being ordered to renew their season tickets at gunpoint.

If they genuinely believe the product is not worth the increase, they have a fairly persuasive recourse. They do not have to make the journey to the bowl by the Beltway eight times in the fall.

They can stay home and watch the game on television. Or they can adopt a new entertainment diversion.

That is all any game is, a momentary diversion. At the end of the game, win or lose, you still have the same bills, the same responsibilities and the same problems.

The Redskins, of course, have the most devoted following in the region, and that devotion leads to a skewering of priorities. The rising price of a football ticket is hardly as worrisome as the spike in home-heating bills this winter. It is hardly as disconcerting as the latest property assessment increases landing on the door of homeowners.

Of all the price hikes, a higher-priced ticket is the least bothersome because attending a game is a nonessential activity.

Yet that point is often lost as teams raise ticket prices amid the predictable grumbling of season ticket-holders. The grumblers should know that a good number of the team’s supporters do not feel their financial pain, mostly because they already lack the discretionary income to afford what long has been out of their reach.

Snyder is playing on the passion of the devotees, who, obviously, feel a deep connection to something larger than them.

That devotion sometimes manifests itself in extreme ways, whether it is the person who turns a rec room into a temple of the Redskins or the middle-aged man who has a collection of all the team’s popular player jerseys.

Snyder would be remiss in his business responsibilities not to mine this pathological obsession.

He runs a business, which demands oodles of cash. Luring Joe Gibbs back to the Redskins was not an act of charity on anyone’s part. It was a business decision that required a considerable cash outlay on the part of Snyder. The same with keeping Gregg Williams in the fold.

Snyder repeatedly has shown he is willing to spend whatever it takes to field a winner, sometimes to the team’s detriment in yesteryear. Yet fans cannot have it both ways. They cannot embrace Snyder’s free-spending manner in pursuit of coaches and personnel and then not expect the cost to be passed along to them at some point in the process.

That is the business model, like it or not.

And you the fan are perfectly free to go elsewhere with your dollars whenever you like, as Snyder knows only too well.

He already has made that calculation, along with others.

He knows the marketplace can absorb the rate increase.

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