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Team sports...I don't get it.

I lived in Chicago, and now I live in Wisconsin. The Packers played the Bears for a spot in the Superbowl, and I see the Packers won.

I suspect my ex is currently crushed. I almost sent him a teasing email about the Packers winning, but really, I know he takes it far too personally for me to be able to even remotely tease.

When we were in couples counseling, this whole sports-fan thing was one of the issues where I simply couldn't get it. I do not understand this whole routing-for-teams-based-on-geography thing. It does not compute. The whole sport thing says that I'm from Buffalo, so I should care about the Bills. I don't. Why? Well, not only because I don't care about football (which I don't...maybe I inversely care) but because the team has little to do with the city. Probably less than I do, since I lived there for 18 years and my parents are still there. Most of the players probably aren't even from there. I think by virtue of living in the city that houses a team, the fan doesn't do much in connection with the team. The fan doesn't train the players, doesn't know them personally. They don't send them money. They don't chat with them on LJ.

Also, it seems counterintuitive to me to route for a team based on the city they purportedly "represent." If you love the game itself (which is what every fan will tell you, but it's a lie) they should love either the most skilled, or the most innovative players. They should love the athletes who play well, or play artistically in some way. But, no. It's usually just that their home town or home state or their college or their country is emblazoned on the uniforms.

I guess I just think the geographical team-thing is a stupid construct. There, I said it. Now if they restructured the teams to have something to do with idiosyncrasies and values, sort of like the house-system in Harry Potter, maybe then it would be cool. People align with Gryffindor or Slytherin not based on geographics, but based on values or self-image. I could maybe understand if NFL teams were like that, and people got so wrapped up in whether they won or lost.

The geographic-team construct is, in fact, creepy to me. Slap a label on it, say it has something to do with "my" city, and I'll rabidly defend it. No thanks.

Reading is like my fantasy team ideal more or less, right? You don't usually pick an author based on the city they're from. You pick them because their work resonates with you and you admire their skill or craftsmanship.

The whole sports-fan thing disgusts me, too. What do "fans" think they actually do for teams? Not the fans who travel to opposing teams' cities and route them on in person, the fans who sit on their barstools and watch them on network TV. How is that helping or supporting the team in any way? It's disturbing to watch people take pride in something they didn't do, didn't achieve, didn't have any part in at all.

But watch a fan spaz out when their team wins and ask them what they actually did to merit the sense of satisfaction and be prepared to be treated like an alien.

Readers, on the other hand, support their authors by leaving reviews on Amazon, by turning other people onto their books, and by sending personal emails or messages or tweets or whatever to the authors they enjoy.

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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
andy_slayde
Jan. 24th, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
You don't even want to know my exes super fan mentality. In short it has put me off baseball and football. Well I am rooting for the Jets - I liked 'em way back when, when they needed divine intervention to make it to the play-offs. But that's as far as my being a fan goes.
I prefer soccer - German (St.Pauli)or English(Liverpool), not American.
I am also a Slytherin ;o)

Now, watching football live is awesome. But that isn't possible to do, it's too costly. Watching a game on tv is showing pride in a team you happen to follow. Do I think my yelling at the TV actually does anything other than raise my blood pressure? No I don't. I watched the World Cup - there is a certain pride when the team you like does well.
The average fan will buy merchandise and in certain areas PPV to watch the games - that money in some way supports the team.
cdn_tam
Jan. 24th, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
I'm not a huge sports fan but I am a fan. I see the geographical breakdown of sports teams just another level. First you cheer for your country (aka the Olympics), then you cheer for your state, then your city and maybe even your neighborhood if you get into a high school/community level. If we had inter-planetary games I assume we'd cheer for Earth over Mars in the big play-off. It's a sense of belonging to a group with similar goals, even if you don't contribute directly. I'm proud to be Canadian and root for Canadian teams and yes, I buy Canadian Olympic mittens and sports themed t-shirts, money of which funnels back to the teams so even if I don't get out there and scrimmage with them, I'd like to think I contribute to morale if nothing else. Really, how awful would it be to do something and no one gives a damn? What is the point? Sports is the same. Sure there is fun in playing it for your own pleasure, but if no one cheers you on or cares, that novelty will wear off soon.

I don't understand rabid fans, those who get into brawls defending their team or even those who spend thousands of dollars to follow a team, but there is a camaraderie amongst fans, you instantly find someone in life you have at least one thing in common with, so I don't find it really all that odd to have local pride in some that is front and centre. Something everyone sees that represents your city/state/country. I cheer for my hometown boys because when they go out into the big wide world they have my city on their chest and I want them to represent us well. Does it make sense? Not likely but it seems to work for me.
ali_wilde
Jan. 24th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
I want some Pittsburgh Penguins merchandise. Am I from Pittsburgh? LOL, no. Have I ever watched a game of ice hockey in my life? No. I think it has a lot to do with the mascots.

The mentality you describe is also big here. In Sth Aust you have two local AFL teams to support if that's what you want to do. You can support one of the many teams from across the border, but be prepared to be ostracised. Fights do break out, abuse is hurled. And that's just the players.

The fans are identical, though. Sitting at the game, at home or in bars, they'll yell at the ref, at the players - like the coach doesn't know what he's doing - and each other. It lets out a lot of aggression, though, and that must be a good thing.
andy_slayde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
Gee, I'm a Penguins fan too
And speaking of the AFL - I'm a Swans fan and Port ;o)
I'll have to find some Penguins merchandise - a quest!
I root for teams I like for whatever reason, doesn't have to be my country, state or town. Though I did like my college's football team - the Danes
ali_wilde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
Gee, I'm a Penguins fan too

You are? Awesome. Will you be my friend?

Just imagine, if Port had used their brains, they could be the Port Penguins instead of boring old Port Power. Ah well, we don't watch AFL for the team's brains...
andy_slayde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
Port Penguins
Let's start a petition!
Don't you have little blues in the area?
ali_wilde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
Little blue whats?
andy_slayde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
Little blue aliens.
"The Little Penguin is the smallest species of penguin. The penguin, which usually grows to between 30 and 33 cm tall, is found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand..."
andy_slayde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
<<<< A Little Blue or Fairy Penguin
ali_wilde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
Fairy pengys, yep. None where I am though, they don't like the suburbs. :D

Honestly, the only ones I've seen were in the zoo. So cute.
gaycrow
Jan. 24th, 2011 09:07 am (UTC)
I've seen (and heard) those little fairy penguins on Kangaroo Island. They used to come up from the sea at night and nest in the garden behind the house we rented.

And I LOVE the idea of Port being called the Penguins. Alternatively, they could just go by the name Fairies. Ha ha!
egret17
Jan. 24th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
I love the idea of teams structured like the houses in Harry Potter.
jordan_c_price
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
Sorting helmet. It could work.
ali_wilde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
On another note, how many female fans actually watch games for the actual sport? I know, with AFL anyway, where the guys aren't all padded up and only wear shorts and jersey, I do like watching some nice bodies.

Sexist? Hell yeah!!
andy_slayde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
Oh yes. When I get to watch an AFL game it is very nice. Such a slashy sport. Probably why I like soccer, shorts, little padding.
ali_wilde
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:53 am (UTC)
You want to actually be there. That way you get to see what doesn't make it to the TV.
andy_slayde
Jan. 24th, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
I would love to see a game with you :o)
ali_wilde
Jan. 24th, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
We'll go and see the Port Penguins thrash any Victorian team.
lou_harper
Jan. 24th, 2011 04:44 am (UTC)
Men and their balls... I don't get it.

Football (the US kind) is probably the most boring sport ever invented by humankind. I'd rather be watching curling.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 24th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
I LOVE MY SABRES
Don't care what you say. Let's go Sabres. Guess who I am?
jordan_c_price
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)
Re: I LOVE MY SABRES
You are clearly some insane woman from Buffalo. Who is related to me ;-)
gaycrow
Jan. 24th, 2011 09:08 am (UTC)
I have nothing to add other than "Go the Crows!". ;p
cynbaby
Jan. 24th, 2011 09:17 am (UTC)
Part of it is hometown pride. I don't follow baseball too closely, but I kind of have to root for the Red Sox, being a born and raised Rhode Islander. They had the whole underdog history, and are usually a team of misfits.

Plus, them winning means the Dropkick Murphys will give a free concert. ;)
josephine_myles
Jan. 24th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
Interesting point of view. I've always felt the opposite about team sports - I can never understand why people all over the UK who've probably never been to Manchester can support a team like Manchester United, then ignore their local team. To be honest, I think much of the UK could do with a bit more civic pride.

I guess things must be very different over in the US!
deborak
Jan. 24th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
NFL Football is the only sport I (occasionally) watch, and I follow a team from a city I haven't lived near since 1978. Oddly, when I did live there, the local team wasn't my favorite. In that sense, and in the fact that I hate the team I live nearest to now, geography doesn't play much of a role for me.

I think team preferences are often about associating one's personality with a brand. For example:

"I drive a Prius which shows I care about the environment."

"I like the Cowboys which makes me patriotic because they're America's team."
(Deleted comment)
jordan_c_price
Feb. 5th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
That makes a lot more sense to me than picking based on geography. I think it says something about me getting angry over people feeling proud of themselves when "their" team wins, when the fan has done nothing whatsoever to be proud of except tune in to the game and eat some Doritos.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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