I live in New England, so I have to constantly put up with fiercely loyal sports fans. Now, I have some strange hobbies, and I’m not one to begrudge another person a hobby of their own, but people do seem to take their fanship a bit far. I mean the Patriots lost a game last night, and there are some people at work today who look like their best friend was killed!
Dee is among the bigger sports fans we have around here, and she and I got into a discussion about “American football” and team loyalty. My contention was that, since free agency, nobody associated with a given football team has any loyalty, so why should the fans. It’s even rare to find that a “local” team has any local players.
She started thinking about it, and wrote:
So how can we be so loyal or patriotic (pun intended), to a team or a sport that is really just a money making business where none of the players are actually New England natives? To be honest, whether they are New England natives or not, doesn’t really matter to me much. I guess I care more about the make-up of the team and less about their place of origin.
I like to watch football because it is an athletically and a technically difficult game. However, the real reason I enjoy watching New England sports so much, is because it is how I grew up and I find it comforting. It was a way for me to bond with my Dad, brothers, my uncles, friends, boyfriends, and now with my husband.
Fair enough Dee. I will never stand up against something that brings family and friends together. Hey, I’m not terribly religious, but I still like Christmas because it’s a great reason to see my family and have everyone get together. The experience holds the value to me; Not the holiday.
This still does not explain why one team is picked over another as a place to invest one’s loyalty. If, indeed, the players are essentially interchangeable parts to a larger NFL machine, than the only plausible reasons to become â€œpatâ€riotic is that you either like the team logo, or have become friends with the team owners.
Since most fans seem to agree that team owners tend to be evil, and simply liking a team based solely on their logo seems more frivolous than a teen magazine article about Ginger Spice, I can only assume that these reasons do not apply.
NFL teams move an amazing amount of money and I could get behind one of them if their winning made me some money for myself, but beyond that, I utterly fail to comprehend where fan loyalty comes from. Like I said, I completely understand how coming together to watch the game is fun and rewarding, but why one would pick one team over another seems irrational. Not the players, not the coaches, not even the owners stick with one team with the same loyalty of the fans. Loyalty to an institution seems misplaced when the only thing that is stable about it is the logo.
I guess it just makes it more fun when you have picked a horse, but since there is no such thing as a local team, picking one seems as arbitrary as throwing darts at a board.