Only just saw this post, so apologies for going over old ground…
My girls are already members - they’re 8 and 5. They will sporadically sit down and watch the Bombers play - and their favourite players are Hepp and Tippa. Dyson because he has cool hair, and sends them birthday cards, and Tippa - well, because dad said so… (I note that they’re the two doing a kids skills clinic in August - clever choice by the club.)
You just can’t underestimate the importance of exciting or interesting players. I know some parents whose kids switched to the Hawks purely because they thought Buddy and Cyril were cool. Then they started winning games. Those kids will grow up and likely become Hawthorn members.
Kids are drawn to two things - success, and exciting players. Kids following the team means $$$ in 15-20 years time. My background? I am an immigrant. I moved to Australia from Scotland at the age of 4, and knew nothing of footy probably until I started school at age 6. I recall one of mum and dad’s friends giving me a Richmond jacket, so I guess I might have barracked for them. Until I went to school and the boys said “Richmond are hopeless, you should go for the Bombers” That was in about 1988… so my first real footy memory was - yeah, the 1990 Grand Final. Fark Collingwood.
But, a few years later - the Baby Bombers came on the scene, so I grew up watching Wanganeen, Hird, Long, Mercuri, Bewick and others all play an exciting type of footy and I really fell in love with the club. So, as soon as I got old enough, and could afford a membership, I signed up - despite living in north east Victoria and going to 1 game a year if I’m lucky.
Exciting players = bums on seats at games = $$$
It’s why nobody barracks for/shows up to watch Norf. The most vanilla team to ever vanilla at the moment. No wonder their supporters don’t go - there’s nobody to get excited about. Ben Cunnington? Mr Excitement.
It’s why we should always take a risk at the draft, especially at the back end, or in the rookie draft. Not every draft pick has to be a 200 gamer, even though the players I idolised did. Even if Tippa only plays for 7-8 years - the supporters he will create for the club will have an impact for decades.