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I already talked about my feelings about the Blazers and ticket refunds in the comment section of somebody else's diary a few days ago but since it seems to have come up again in the Oregonian today we might as well discuss.

To me this is an issue of being a reasonable and good citizen...in this case a citizen of Blazer Nation.  Obviously the team qualifies.  Anyone who has purchased a season ticket package also seems like a member of the club.  (Unless, of course, you bought them to re-sell, like you were a ticket scalper or something.  I wonder how many of the refund requests are from people like that?)  And given that we're all members of the same Blazer community we're going to have to figure out how to live together...team and ticket holders alike.

I can see where both team and ticket holders feel like they have a case.  The Blazers promoted the Oden/Durant choice heavily.  They built their ticket sales on the advent of a transformational player.  That player is going to be out now.  Everybody who bought a ticket on that basis has a right to feel like they're not getting what they paid for.  On the other hand common sense would tell you that you're paying to see something besides a dramatic transformation this year.  Oden wasn't going to lead us to a championship.  He may very well have spent half of each game on the bench with foul trouble.  If you bought a ticket this year you were going to see a young, growing team in the early stages of getting used to each other and becoming (hopefully) great.  You paid to get in on the ground floor.  That's still exactly what you'll be getting.  Asking for a refund when the overall experience hasn't changed that much seems silly.

There are solid arguments to go either way on this issue. Legally, ethically, in business terms each side makes some sense.  You can't solve the issue that way.

However I think the issue can be solved if you look at basic, human relations...if you really do think of us all as one family.  As anybody who's ever been married can tell you, living together doesn't work well when two parties stand on their rights and prerogatives even if those rights and prerogatives are reasonable.  It does no good to be 100% correct if you are sleeping on the couch.  Are the Blazers right?  Of course they are, but how is that helping the relationship?  Are the ticket holders right?  Of course they are, but how is THAT helping the relationship?  Relationships fall apart when each party defends its own rights at the expense of the other.  They only work when each party gives up some of the self to benefit the other.  And since fans need the team and the team needs fans it seems to me the best course would be for each party to do what benefits the relationship, not just the self.

Should the Blazers be amenable to refunds? Absolutely.  They should offer them gladly.  I know all the business arguments against but you know what?  Those extra dollars, even if it's 100 season tickets, are not going to make the difference between a solvent team and a bankrupt one.  Consider it an advertising campaign for the new era of goodwill.  

But here's the catch...the fans shouldn't take the refund.  Yes, this season will have a little less thrill but there will still be plenty of excitement.  Also you're putting your money where your mouth is, supporting the character and great relationship you've said you wanted with the team for the last half decade.  That's what you're purchasing, supporting, and investing in, even if you have to wait a year to get your Oden fix.

Right now, with fans demanding refunds and the Blazers refusing, the situation is yucky and we're at an impasse.  If the Blazers were gracious enough to accept refund requests and the vast majority of the fans were gracious enough not to ask for one we'd be on our way again.

Just in case that isn't a strong enough argument to make the Blazers consider changing their policy, consider this:  There's a significant hidden cost here for the team.  When the Blazers say they won't give refunds it affects more than just the people who wanted their money back.  It defines their relationship with the entire fan base--even those who are staying--in business terms.  It makes even the most loyal fan pause and ask, "Well...if they're viewing this relationship in that way does it make sense for me to think of them like family?"  The relatively small amount of money you save this year in refused refunds isn't worth that change in perception...not with the era we've just come out of and not with all the Pritchard interview time you've invested trying to make people feel like the team is about more than that.  Twenty fans are leaving.  Two million are staying.  You don't want those remaining fans to feel like cold clients, but like family. Why should a few fans that feel otherwise define the entire relationship between the team and the city?  Is it really worth arguing with a small group of people over who's right when the more important issue is that we're together?

It's time for the organization and its fans to put up or shut up.  Are we going to be family, of good character, rooting for each other and supporting each other like the fans have asked for and the Blazers have promoted over the last six months?  Are we going to treat each other well, with graciousness, patience, and understanding? Or are we going to define our relationship in terms of economic exchange and units of entertainment (wins or dunks or draft picks or whatever) received per dollar?  Are we to be judged by what we give or what we grasp?  

Asking for and refusing refunds is the language of grasping and cold economics.  I don't see how its beneficial for the team or its fans to view ourselves in that way in the long run.  This is supposed to be a new era for all of us.  It won't be, though, unless we make it so.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

P.S.  I wish to announce that I am officially super-sick of the word "GOOFs".  Please get through this conversation, and all the rest of them too, without employing it.  I have asked politely before, now I am telling.  It was very clever and humorous at first but now it has simply become another cheap ad hominem insult.  I have read one too many dismissive posts and my stomach has turned for the last time.  From this point forward the only permissable application of that term here is in reference to yourself (i.e. you can call yourself one, which people still do in good humor).  Its use as a pejorative term to insult other fans, whether singly or as a group, is over at this site.