By Kevin Henkin
I once had a marketing class where we discussed a case study. The case study was a moral dilemma for the executives of a large pharmaceutical corporation that manufactured a drug with potentially hazardous and fatal side effects on a small sample of the customers. After reading the case study, the students were sent off into groups to discuss best actions and possible solutions. Upon reconvening, many of the students discussed the complexities of the situation that faced the executives in terms of how to best protect shareholders and the company in general. As this discussion progressed, the professor grew increasingly agitated until he finally threw up his hands and said, “Look, people, this should have been a very short discussion. You don’t kill your customers. Ever. That’s the point of this exercise.”
I’ve never forgotten this seemingly obvious lesson. Then again, I do forget to apply the logic of it sometimes on actions of lesser consequence. Take, for example, a column I wrote a few days ago where I condemned people who have returned from exile to root for the Celtics as inferior fans to those who have stubbornly stuck with the team through the lean years. I suppose the more sensible position to take would have been to express admiration for those that did remain interested in the team despite some pretty trying times but instead I went for the jugular with a harshness and a decided lack of humor. For that, for those who may have been offended by my sanctimonious and self-superior attitude, I apologize. After all, it is the readers that make this place work and it’s likely that many of those readers were the very people I was attacking. In a way of minor explanation, I’ve been a bit stretched for ideas lately because there are only so many ways that you can say the Celtics are good and here’s why. It’s at that late point in the regular season when pretty much everything meaningful that can be said about the team has been said already, here and elsewhere. Therefore, when the idea sprang into my head about analyzing the phenomenon of returning fans to a successful team, I found it to be an interesting concept and just ran with it without considering the wisdom of such a smug and unforgiving stance.
The other obvious point that I blatantly ignored was that whether people have followed the team as die-hards or are new to the experience of enjoying Celtics basketball, it’s undeniable that the more people who are on-board, the more fun it is for everyone involved. It’s been a lonely stretch of years for Celtics fans as they’ve watched other teams in town enjoy unprecedented levels of success and attention. Now that such success and attention are back with the men in green, it seems like all is right again to those of us who grew up in world where the Celtics ruled this sports town. Regardless of what I ignored or didn’t ignore, I should have applied the golden rule of those who provide services and goods: You don’t kill your customers. Unfortunately, I’ve had to be reminded of that old lesson again. Sorry for the momentary navel-gazing but I just wanted to get that message of apology out there and to thank you for reading regardless of your position on the issue. Now we can all get back to focusing a what should be a fun game tonight against a fun team at the tail end of a fun season, for everyone who cares enough to enjoy it.