Dear Andrew Hauptman: This is Why You’re Being Criticized
It isn’t personal, it’s business: A plea for honesty and professionalism.
The editorial Senior Communications Director Dan Lobring posted on Chicago-Fire.com last week has taken the nation’s soccer media by storm. In response, Lobring, COO Atul Khosla, and Owner Andrew Hauptman have defended the piece as the necessary admonishment of a handful of unruly fans. However, most pundits agree that the editorial’s primary intent was to respond to critics of Hauptman’s tenure.
Indeed, only 258 of the editorial’s 1,376 words (19%) directly address the misbehavior in question, while the rest of the piece defends either Dan Lobring or Andrew Hauptman from their critics, who have now become both more numerous and vocal.
So the question for MLS supporters is: are the criticisms of Hauptman fair? Is he the victim of baseless personal attacks, or do his critics have objective reasons for their disapproval?
To put it in Dan Lobring’s words: Do Hauptman’s critics have a point, or do they “prevent progress, espouse negativity…[are] just downright not truthful, inhibiting [the FO] from doing [their] jobs to the best of [their] ability?”
Chicago Fire, Before and After Andrew Hauptman Purchased the Club in September 2007:
|Playoff Appearance Rate||90%||60%|
The numbers speak for themselves. By all statistical appraisals of Chicago Fire’s on-field performance, the club is in a significantly worse place now than it was before Hauptman took over.
Andrew, if you look at those numbers, can you blame fans for being frustrated with Chicago Fire during your ownership? Can you separate the drunken, idiotic handful of spectators — who can be found at every sporting event in the world — from the intelligent, passionate supporters who simply want the team back near the top of the league in terms of performance, integrity, and respect?
If you and the Front Office can’t make this distinction, nor see why reasonable frustration exists in Fire Nation, the club will never again reach the heights it once knew. The tasks before you now are to:
1) Take a moment and honestly ask yourself: What is the current state of the club, and how, together, can we do better?
2) Personally reach out to the Fire community and apologize for embarrassing them on both a local and national level.
3) Communicate tangible plans for improving the state of the club in the eyes of the City of Chicago, Chicagoland, and the North American Soccer community.
Without committing to those three courses of action Mr. Hauptman, how can you expect Chicago Fire supporters to trust or believe in you?
OTF’s Adam Morgan is an award-winning screenwriter and the author of Best Hikes Near Chicago. In between hiking and watching the Beautiful Game, Adam has also written for the Tribune Company, Fox Television Studios, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist. Follow Adam @earthmorgan