Yeah, I know. You bench Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne because you want them fresh for the playoffs. You bench them because the chance of injury is too great. You bench them because you want to go to the biggest show in professional football with your top players intact.
But the top management of the Indianapolis Colts left one factor out of their corporate decision: the fans.
In the stands, one fan held a sign proclaiming “16-0 matters to us!” Boos echoed throughout the stadium as the Colts’ rookie quarterback replaced Manning with a threadlike five-point lead. And the team skittered down the path to Loserville.
From a purely rational perspective, the decision of Coach Jim Caldwell and Colts President Bill Polian makes sense. But it ignores — even insults — the emotional investment fans have made in their team. They stuck with them during Manning’s early seasons, when he was interception-prone. They remained in the stands during the thin years. And now, quite rightly, they want their perfect season.
They want to be part of history.
News organizations could learn from this heinous display of corporatization. In this era of journalistic hand-wringing, experts have dissected and analyzed audiences, sliced and diced content, pondered and posited business models.
But the primary question should be: What are you doing to inspire emotional investment from your community?