Many Ravens fans are upset about the team’s decision to not host training camp at McDaniel College next summer. I opined on this topic this past Saturday in a piece entitled A Summer Tradition is no More.
Even prior to committing my livelihood to covering the team, I made regular trips out to McDaniel. It became a traditional day with the boys that included an early morning round of golf, followed by lunch and then the afternoon practice, usually in sweltering conditions.
Well I guess we’ll always have those memories…
But back to those upset fans…
I consider myself a fan as well only with a little bit more access. And it has been my experience that the Ravens usually come around to appeasing their “customers.” And while taking away a tradition hardly qualifies as appeasement, I do believe that the Ravens have some other new and exciting things in store that will offset the loss of McDaniel sojourns and replace them with new traditions.
Time will tell if this is purely Pollyanna on my part.
Others are quicker to judge and I’m not suggesting either response is right or wrong only different. Here’s one of those differing opinions presented to me over the weekend. Perhaps you agree.
I must start out by saying that it has been a pleasure having you as the owner of the Baltimore Ravens and that you run the organization in a first class way and that you make me proud to be a huge fan of the team and a season ticket holder.
However today’s decision to move training camp to the Castle and away from McDaniel College in Westminster has saddened and maybe disillusioned me to some aspect, of how much the fans really mean to the organization. We must mean something when Ed Reed in the pregame before the 49er’s game says "let’s go win this for the people of Baltimore, the people that we have fed the last 2 weeks." But this decision goes in the exact opposite direction. I normally attend training camp one or two times a year and for me it’s a nice chance to see the players that I’ll see in action at M & T Bank during the year. It is a very nice time and a chance to see the rookies, but it means less to me than most of the people who attend training camp. A lot of the fans who come out to camp do not go to the games. There are parents who bring their kids out to see the heroes that they will root for all year on TV. This is their only chance to see and interact with the players that the kids consider larger than life.
As for the fact that "we believe we can better prepare for the season by holding training camp here as opposed to McDaniel College or any other facility away from here," imagine how much better the Green Bay Packers would be if they had held training camp at their facility instead of at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. Over the years I have heard many references to the fact that "we would like to emulate the success that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had." Damn, imagine how good they would be if they held training camp at their facility instead of at St. Vincent’s in Latrobe, PA. I apologize for the sarcasm, but to me that argument doesn’t hold water. I truly believe that getting the players off the team campus and in a different setting builds unity and team bonding.
I’m sure that it’s a hell of a lot easier for the team and all the personnel to not move from Owings Mills to Westminster, but as Dick Cass said, it doesn’t cost the team anything monetarily because of sponsors. Some of the excitement that you build with your fan base will be lost if you get rid of training camp at McDaniel.
As you stated you have mixed feeling on this. Some of your fondest memories as a kid were from attending Colts training camps in Westminster. Mine too, almost getting bulldozed by Ray Perkins on an over thrown pass. Because of that 10 second experience I became a devout Colts fan and a Ray Perkins fan, following the Colts until they left, and a Ray Perkins fan as he coached Alabama and the NY Giants. I became a Giants fan when we did not have a team here just because of that experience with Ray Perkins. But as soon as we got a team back I became a Baltimore Ravens fan and continue to be one today because of that training camp.
You now have the chance to continue to create lifelong memories for this generation of young Ravens fans. In today’s society of ever vanishing traditions, let this one continue.