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If America's golfers had gone about the task of winning back the Ryder Cup with the same gusto that the PGA and the Oakland Hills Country Club had applied in organising the event, the European team may have struggled to win a single point.

Aside from the opening morning of the event when Tiger Woods and Colin Montgomerie teed off in front of thin galleries because so many spectators were stuck in queues outside, everything ran seamlessly and everybody the US team apart went home happy, most struggling under the weight of merchandise they acquired.

Whatever one's feelings about US sports and I should put my hand up here and declare that, basketball apart, I'm a fan of most of them it is very difficult to take issue with the professionalism and attention to detail of their administration, and in particular the care that is taken to ensure that fans are kept happy.

I was first struck by this last week at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers. Baseball is an acquired taste, and even those who count themselves among its followers would have to admit that the game can be on the slow side of cricket, and the fourth day of a meaningless County Championship match at that. But the Tigers appear to have recognised this unspoken truth, as the baseball itself counts for little more than half the attraction at the brand new stadium, built as part of a concerted effort to regenerate the drug-fuelled war zone that is downtown Detroit.

For those unmoved by baseball, there is a ferris wheel, a carousel, half a dozen restaurants on top of the huge number of concession stands dotted about the place, and any number of other attractions that fill the many gaps between the action.

To purists, this probably seems like an unnecessary diversion but anybody who has had to spend time at an unglamorous slum like St Andrews in Birmingham would probably think they had died and gone to heaven.

At the other end of the sporting scale from Comerica Park is Michigan Stadium, the home of the University of Michigan Wolverines American football team, where on Saturday 109,432 turned up to watch the home team narrowly overcome the San Diego State Aztecs.

The stadium, known locally as the Big House, for obvious reasons, is a soulless no-frills concrete bowl furnished only with uncomfortable plastic benches.

But when full, it comes alive as the Michiganders, and their passion for their college and team, give the Big House its energy. It is an extraordinary sight to behold, particularly this season when the must-have fashion item is a violently yellow T-shirt that proclaims, with some accuracy, that “there's no football like Big House football”.

There must have been 50,000 such shirts on display on Saturday, a good half of them crammed into the students' section. From that mass of yellow came manic chanting and at one stage, a Mexican wave so creative it would defy the descriptive powers of Henry Blofeld.

Aside from some health and safety issues that in the UK would result in the closure of the stadium quicker than you could say “Hillsborough”, the organisation was once again immaculate, from the tailgate parties on the adjacent golf course to the staggeringly efficient traffic flow around the stadium. The Tigers have to work harder than the University to keep their attendances up they have neither alumni nor students but what both organisations have in common is that they understand the importance of inclusiveness.

Keep the fans involved and happy particularly when the team is doing badly and they will keep coming back and buy hot dogs, frozen daiquiris and ugly yellow T-shirts.

There is, of course, a degree of commercial cynicism, or realism, involved. All this adds up to keeping one organisation in half decent third basemen, the other in football scholarships and both in greenbacks.

But the fans are happy and the organisations are wealthy, so everybody wins. It seems a simple lesson, but there is no shortage of sporting organisations out there that would benefit from learning it.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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