This is not an article about football. It is not about on-field performance. It is not about off-season projections. It is not about roster moves. It is not about the draft. It is an article about fandom. It is about the notion that if the Jacksonville Jaguars do not make an effort to turn this franchise around in the near future, the team will no longer have a fan base to rely on.
Before you people reading this get upset and act as if that could never happen, sit down and shut up. You people are marks. The die-hards. The extreme fans. Everyone that reads this blog, engaged in Jaguars Twitter, comments on Facebook, listens to sports talk radio, or peruses the team subreddit are the most tuned-in fans that a team that can have. To borrow a tired marketing catchphrase, you're All In on the team. Barring some sort of atrocious scandal or other unlikely incomprehensible event, you people will probably be Jaguars fans till you die.
Generation Jaguar is not and never has been a fan base built on losing. It is not like the Cubs or the Red Sox before they won their respective championships. At it's very beginning, it has been a fan base that was built on winning. From 1996 to 1999, the team was winning and were competitive to the late rounds of the playoffs.
During that time, Generation Jaguar, largely comprised of the coveted 18-30 demographic currently, were in their formative stages of fandom. Ranging from late elementary school to middle school-aged, these kids were in the most formative social influencing years.Seeing the Jaguars become successful conditioned Generation Jaguar from its very inception to believe this team could be successful. That early success is the pilot light that remains lit for those fans while the team continues its dive into the current tailspin in which it is stuck. Generation Jaguar is safe. The team can rely on it to continue to go to games and support the team. The portion of the fan base that coined the phrase "Duval 'Til We Die" will most likely never die.
However, can the same be said of the next generation of fans? Can the current generation of school-age kids be counted on to buy tickets to games or at least even watch Jaguars games when they get older? At the team's current trajectory, maybe not.
In terms of football fandom, the current trend of local-area college teams having increased success and relevancy may draw young fans away from the team. The Gators and the Seminoles have won national championships recently and young people may rather be Seminoles or Gators fans rather than Jaguars fans. When media saturation and the manner in which sports media is increasingly prevalent through mobile devices, the NFL, let alone the Jaguars, may start to have a reduced role in interest.
At its core, the issue comes down to wins and losses. Children and young people are idiots and this isn't some corny fan base like the Cubs or Red Sox. Not even children are willing to cheer for a lovable loser when their interests can go towards something else entirely. The overall notion that a losing culture surrounding this team creating apathy among young people is not unrealistic. The Jaguars as an organization face a reality in which the next generation of fans may not come to games, let alone watch or care about the team. If that day comes, then it will be the worst loss this team could ever suffer.