Fans will do crazy things for their teams. Stuff like get painted and go shirtless in below-zero temperatures. Or quit their jobs if their bosses won't give them time off for the playoffs. Heck, some even get married at the ballpark.
Many fans will get fanatical for no good reason, but a little incentive can really push them over the edge. Last September, a young Tigers fan got the Old English D tattooed on the inside of his bottom lip in an attempt to win tickets to an ALDS game. And this past October, a Buffalo Bills fans dug through a kiddie pool of buffalo dung to grab tickets to a game. Yes, dung. And yes, a Bills game.
This baseball season, MasterCard is banking on the fanaticism of one particularly passionate fan base, that of the Chicago Cubs. As part of a new "Priceless Chicago" campaign, the company is getting Chicago-based Cubs fans to prove their support by making pledges on Facebook throughout the season. Each pledge earns fans a chance at prizes or Cubs experiences. More chances to win are earned when a fan "proves" he or she followed through on a pledge.
Some pledges may be tough to explain to loved ones, like one gentleman's promise to name his "soon-to-be-born child Wrigley if the Cubs win the World Series." Others, like one guy's pledge to "have a full body wax for a Cubs win" may be tough to prove, what with Facebook's strict policy against nudity.
I decided to use the Cubs pledge as a motivational tool. For the last few months I've wanted to get back on a regular running regimen but haven't been able to get motivated. Running used to be one of my main sources of exercise, but after straining a muscle behind my knee, I took it out of my workouts and never really got back to it in earnest.
In an effort to reclaim my status as a runner, I will pledge an offseason mile for each of the Cubs wins. So if the Cubs win 75 games, I'll have to log 75 miles between the end of their season and Opening Day 2013. Now for the marathoners out there, 75 miles over a few months may not sound like much, but to me a couple miles every few days sounds like a perfect way to reintroduce myself to the treadmill.
If the Cubs win fewer than 75 games, I won't have to work quite as hard, and if they win more, well ... let's be honest, with this lineup they're probably not gonna rack up 100 Ws and have me logging 10 miles a day.
While the MasterCard pledge may be for just Cubs fans, that doesn't mean baseball fans in other cities can't tie their teams' success to personal pledges. It could be silly (dying your hair green if the Oakland A's win the World Series) or serious (donating $10 to charity for every home run Josh Hamilton hits). You could pledge to buy your Boston friend lunch for a week if the Sawx sweep the Yankees at home, or promise to wear a Dodgers T-shirt for a month if L.A. loses its series with the Giants next month.
For fans of teams that aren't likely to go all the way (ahem ... my Cubs), following along with your pledge could give a potentially tired season a little kick in the butt. At the very least it may provide friends and coworkers with years of laughs (here's looking at you, "I'll wear only my Cubs undies to work if they win" guy).
Make your pledge in the comments and let's keep each other honest!