This started off as a Facebook status, but started to get way too long. Religion also somehow, like a typical YouTube thread, got tangled up into this. Then I remembered: I HAVE A BLOG!
If you know me, or have read an older post or two, you may know that I’m a huge baseball fan. It’s October, which means it’s playoff time. Specifically, the League Championship Series have both started. If you’re not a baseball fan, this one’s not for you…
For those out there complaining about seeing St. Louis and San Francisco in the NLCS, AGAIN…
Suck it up.
These are two exceptionally run franchises. They aren’t the typical big market teams that everyone is so apt to cry about. Even if they were, remember: every owner has the equal opportunity to spend money. Some choose NOT to. So ask yourself, why are you cheering for a team, if the ownership group is not committed to winning? For that matter, why are you even cheering for a team at all? I find I typically come across two rationals, behind longstanding fandom.
People always want to have some sense of civic pride; or at least they do in the sense of: “I can bash my city, but you can’t, ’cause you’re not from here”. The same seems to carry over to sports teams. People will lament their woeful squad, until a non-fan express the same opinion.
“Whoa back off man! They’ve been drafting really well, and we’re right on the cusp. You just like because you’re a bandwagoner man!”
Well, newsflash: you didn’t really have any say in where you were born. So supporting the team of the city you were arbitrarily born in, it’s kind of a weak platform. You can argue that was responsible for shaping your young mind, and contributed to the person you are today, therefore giving a strong reason for supporting civic pride. Except that, that pride is relative to the fact that you were born in that city. If you were born in a different city, you would be tied to a whole different team. Ergo, you’re a slave to the forces that conspired to place you in that city. Now you can make a case for people who have, of their own free will, moved to a city. Those folks are usually just caving to peer pressure; trying to fit in amidst the common-folk in their new town.
This is usually is born of civic pride (descended from your folks). Even if it’s not, it’s still something that was not a result of your own critical thinking. You’re cheering out of blind faith, for the team your family supports the most vocally, because it’s the only team you get exposed to. Or more aptly, it’s the only team you’re exposed to a reason to cheer for. Kind of like religion…except your mortal soul isn’t invested (well, that’s a matter up for debate to some). Conversely, some people cheer out of spite for their family ties. To be the black sheep, the antagonist (hello atheists); usually a major rival. It’s all very petty.
These are the two major arguments that I seem to come across most, when people are trying to explain why they’ve supported a team for so long. They also seem to be generally accepted logic to argue a “true allegiance”. People who use these rationales, typically like to harp on those with what they consider, “less legitimate” reasons. These include:
-Traditionally good team
The last two are typically labelled as “bandwagon fans”. Before I touch on those, let’s tackle the first three.
Sure, team colour/name seem frivolous, but at least they have some sense of personal attachment. I mean, you’re cheering for your dad’s team because why? Why not pick your team based on your favourite colours, favourite animal, or coolest sounding name? Especially for folks like me in the Great White North; outside of the NHL, there really aren’t many options for local ties. Plus, inevitably if you really enjoy the sport, you’ll get to know the players, the history, and all that fun stuff; it comes with time regardless of how your allegiance formed. Of course, if you’re a casual fan, it’s a built in defence mechanism to shut-up over-zealous fans, hellbent on proving their team loyalty.
Back to the bandwagon. I really don’t mind the casual bandwagon fan. I mean, let’s face it; don’t you want to share in the excitement cheering for a champion gives, rather than the dejection of a perennial loser? Especially when you’re young, it’s easier and more likely, that you’re going to gravitate to the most successful team of the day. Eventually that might lead to a longer standing appreciation for the team. My own favourite baseball team for example, the Minnesota Twins, gained my loyalty in the 90’s because they were really good. They were the best and most exciting team to watch, when I first started watching the sport. There’s a deep sense of nostalgia associated with the team; I may not have liked baseball as much if say, the New York Mets were the team du jour.
Now I’m not trying to say people should stop cheering for their teams. What I’m getting at with all this is, it’s a sports team. Your allegiance is probably trivial at best. Relax, appreciate when a great franchise has sustained success. After all, entertaining games are really what should be at the heart of the fan experience. With the fluidity of the market; players being traded and signing elsewhere, why should your fandom be restricted to a team? I mean, sure, I have my favourites, but I find myself gravitating all over the place due to the vast amount of talent across the leagues.
In any case, if you somehow made it through all this, I hope you at least can ease off the gas-pedal when it comes to extolling what a “super fan” you are. Just relax, grab some snacks, and enjoy the games. After all, this is prime sports time. Hockey has started, college and NFL football are in full swing, there’s NBA pre-season, FIFA football, and of course, the best of all: the MLB playoffs.
May the team that sports the best, get all the sports glory!