When is your team no longer your team?

A recent post on the Seattlest starting me thinking about sports team loyalties and when it is appropriate to change those loyalties.  Wednesday’s entry (lamenting the arrival of Boston fans for the Sox-Mariners series) read:

GO (HOME) SOX: Today’s a great day to ditch work and watch a ball game. Regardless of the the M’s record, any opportunity to witness Boston lose in a stadium full of Red Sox fans needs to be taken. Whatever happened to rooting for the home team? It doesn’t matter if you grew up in Cambridge, your dad’s from Boston, or your cousin is the guy from Good Will Hunting that didn’t make it out, ditch the Brady jersey, you’re a Seattleite now.

There are many issues raised in this quote, but for now I am going to focus on just one.  Assuming you are a legitimate fan of a team and you move to a new area, should you change team loyalties?  That is what the Seattlest is requesting here, “ditch the Brady Jersey, you’re a Seattleite now.” 

Perhaps this hit home since I had spent Sunday celebrating the start of a new football season and a bright Patriots outlook by wearing my Tom Brady jersey.  (When the Pats play at home, it is hard to tell us apart, Tom and me.  We’re totally twinsies.)  But I’ve always been a Pats fan.  I grew up in Connecticut and honestly, I remember the Pats being bad.  To me being a Pats fan was a badge of honor – sure they are not so awesome but we still love them.  When I went to law school in St. Louis I was the only Pats fan at a Rams Super Bowl party – wearing the team colors and then quietly sneaking away after Vinatieri kicked us to victory.  I am a Pats fan and have no intention of changing, after all I have decades of being a fan behind me.  But the Seattlest thinks that since I have lived in Seattle for 12 weeks, I should shed this part of my upbringing and personal history and cheer for the Seahawks. 

Many people, knowing A and I were big sportsfans, asked us if we would start cheering for the Seattle teams when we moved here.  We gave it careful thought and determined that we just didn’t have much room for a new team.  We have our NFL teams (Pats and Skins), our MLB team (Go Nats), A cheers for the Wizards (and I wish the NBA season were much much shorter) and do not even get us started on our college allegiances.  But we didn’t feel bad about that.  After all, it wasn’t like we were moving to Seattle and deciding to now cheer for the Oakland Raiders (more on our unnatural need to cheer for Jason Campbell to suck less this season in a later post).  We were sticking with the teams that we had loved long before Seattle came into our lives and it just seemed like the proper thing to do.

So when is it ok to change loyalties?  Marriage?  A and I have finally reached a detente in our sports cheering – because they are in different divisions, we can cheer on the Pats and Skins without concern that it will effect our own team.  Of course, when they play head to head, we cheer for our own team.  In college, we’ve reach an agreement that we will not openly cheer against the other person’s team.  (Trust me, that is still a work in progress, but I think my amazing Carolina BBQ shows how far I have come.)  While in our marriage we have simply expanded the circle of fandom, others choose to maintain the loyalties they brought to the marriage and still others split sports (I read recently that a friend had decided in a Chicago/St Louis marriage that she got the Cards and he got the Bears.  Seems fair to me.) 

If a team moves, do  you follow the franchise?  Are Expos fans now fans of the Nats?  Or do you hold a grudge against the abandonment and never cheer for a team like the Colts again? 

The big question in our marriage is what will happen when the children choose their own teams?  If our child attends Wake Forest or, gulp, Syracuse, will we cheer for their school or will our own team prejudices make us be those people wearing the team rivals colors at the Parents’ Weekend game?  (A friend from Boston once retold the story of her baseball loving four year old who very seriously asked her if he one day played for the New York Yankees, would Daddy still love him.  Some fandoms run deep.) 

What I think all this pondering leads to is that there may be an appropriate time to change team allegiances – a compromise in marriage, a team that leaves town, a child who is the starting pitcher for the NY Yankees.  However, I do not think the Seattlest’s declaration that you must “ditch the Brady jersey” simply because you have moved to a new town is one of these appropriate times.  In the end, I think if I am the sort of fan who would ditch my Brady jersey because I am a 12 week old resident of Seattle, then I am not the sort of fan that the Seattle sports teams should be recruiting.

ETA:  OK, we are fans of one Seattle pro team and that is the Seattle Storm.  I love them because they have 3 UConn players on their team (and I in fact still wear my UConn paraphernalia to the games so there has been no jersey ditching).  Oh and because of that train thing.  Which. Is. Awesome.  So this post on Seattle sports would be negligent if I didn’t say CONGRATS STORM!!! on sweeping the championship and being undefeated at home this season. 

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Comments

  1. Well said.

    And the kids will cheer for Duke/Skins/Other DC teams…I thought we had agreed on that.

    Kidding aside, I've always thought less of fans who choose their teams for any reason other than the geography of their birth/early years, and educational institutes attended. So by my own (judgmental but let's face it, spot on) criteria our kids should be Seattle fans. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I wasn't exactly joking with the Duke/Skins/DC Sports teams bit above. Which would make my kids less than ideal fans based on my own criteria for proper rooting interests. Which…I'm not quite sure how to deal with yet.

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