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Author Topic: How did you choose your sports teams?
Verily the Younger
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This may seem a stupid question to most people, but it's a subject of great fascination to me. I don't give a damn about sports to any degree. I don't despise them, like some elitist, but I don't care about them either. I don't bother to tune in to the Superbowl, even for the commercials; I don't have the slightest idea what a "seventh-inning stretch" is; I know who Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretsky are, but I haven't a clue as to whether or not they still play.

But I've observed (it would be impossible not to) that a great many people are fanatically loyal to whichever team they happen to support. They take their team's performance personally, and get very contemptuous about the supporters of rival teams.

What I'm wondering is how each person selects which team they will assign that devotion to. I mean, obviously there will be local loyalties. If you were born and raised in New York City, you're not going to be a Red Sox fan. But how do you decide whether you're going to back the Yankees or the Mets? And why does it seem to matter so much which one you choose? And if you live in a place without any local team in this or that sport (my state, Alaska, has no professional sports teams at all, for instance), then how do you decide which team from the entire nation (or nations, if it's a league that involves more than one country, such as the NHL) you're going to be devoted to?

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Tarrsk
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People chose their teams for all manner of reasons, ranging from the obvious (live in the appropriate city) to the arcane. One of my New Yorker friends supports the San Francisco Giants because his grandfather was a fan back when they were the New York Giants. To my knowledge, he's never even been to California, but he's an avid Giants fan nonetheless.

I personally got back into baseball (after playing it as a kid and then ceasing to care one way or the other for about ten years) after moving to Boston for school. So that's the origin of my Red Sox fandom. Of course, living about a block from Fenway Park admittedly speeded things up some. But that's why I chose the team I did. As a Bay Area kid originally, I also have some affection for the Giants and A's, although I'd root for the Sox over either.

Why choose a particular team at all? In my experience, it's just fun to be a fan. Supporting a team gives you a dog in the fight, so to speak, and makes the actual results of the games feel more meaningful. It's tough to care overmuch about a game when you have absolutely no investment in who wins and who loses. Most sports fans are perfectly aware that nothing they do will ever impact the actual game (nor vice versa, really), but there's just a primal energy that you get when you're part of a cheering or jeering crowd, and it's fun to be part of that in a situation where nobody in the crowd could actually get hurt.

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Belle
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I'm loyal to Alabama because my grandfather, mother, and many other relatives went there and I guess I was raised an Alabama fan.

As for other teams, I follow Duke basketball because I participated in their talent search program when I was in 7th grade and visited the campus, loved it and became a fan ever since.

Then there's the cold hard truth - people like to follow winners. You'll find successful programs tend to have a larger fanbase.

I have been loyal to 'Bama all my life, even through the years when we were on probation and losing to our arch-rival Auburn six years in a row *shudder* Pains me just to think about it. Now that we're playing for the national championship, I see a lot of fair weather fans coming out of the woodwork and it's annoying. [Wink]

[ January 01, 2010, 12:12 PM: Message edited by: Belle ]

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Carrie
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I... was brainwashed. You don't grow up in Green Bay, WI and come out of there cheering for anyone but the Packers - particularly not if you went to Vincent T. Lombardi Middle School the year the Packers won the Super Bowl (for the record, the Super Bowl trophy is called the Lombardi Trophy, after the Packers' coach who won the first two Super Bowls). My college football allegiance was similarly decided: I cheer for Wisconsin because I lived there and had a lot of family go there, including, eventually, me.

The rest of my sports allegiances? Mostly teams that strike my fancy. I cheer for the Patriots and Cardinals (NFL), and have for over a decade each (which, yes, is even before Tom Brady). I started cheering for Duke basketball when I was young because they were very good when I first came to any sort of awareness of the sport ('91/'92). When it comes to sports about which I have no clue (here, mostly, baseball), I go with the team of whose roster I can name more - hence why I cheered for the Yankees in the one WS game I watched this fall. I'll cheer local for hockey; though I pay no attention to MLS (or soccer!football in general), I do follow Arsenal to some degree, and ManU to a lesser extent.

When it comes down to it, though, how do I decide whom to support? Proximity, mostly, though I have been known to pay particular attention to more, ah, superficial qualities.

Look, fine. Tom Brady is hot. And you won't get me to root against the Patriots as long as he's there. Deal with it. [Smile]


quote:
Originally posted by Verily the Younger:
I know who Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretsky are, but I haven't a clue as to whether or not they still play.

PS - They don't. [Smile]
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Lyrhawn
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I grew up in Detroit, and anyone from Detroit knows how fanatical people here are about the Red Wings, so there's no question regarding my loyalty to them as my hockey team. Hockey is the only sport I follow and support with any zeal.

Basketball I'm not really a fan of. Baseball I'm a Tigers fan just because they're local, but more so because I liked the individual players on the team (well, until this year when a lot of the fan faves got booted).

And for football, well, it's Detroit, and who cares about the Lions? I'm actually a Saints fan for a number of reasons. I'm French-Canadian (well, my grandparents are from Quebec, so I guess I'm a second generation American on that side, but I consider myself of French-Canadian ancestry), so I feel like a team from New Orleans sort of has a French connection for me. I also really enjoyed watching them play right after Katrina, and I feel like they put more effort into that season than any other team, at a time when they really weren't spectacular but wanted to give their home city any reason at all to be cheerful about something.

I'm not a die-hard fan or anything, but I'll root for them against any other team if they're on.

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Tarrsk
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quote:
Originally posted by Carrie:
When it comes to sports about which I have no clue (here, mostly, baseball), I go with the team of whose roster I can name more - hence why I cheered for the Yankees in the one WS game I watched this fall.

Boo! Hiss!

[Wink]

quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Baseball I'm a Tigers fan just because they're local, but more so because I liked the individual players on the team (well, until this year when a lot of the fan faves got booted).

It's a shame about Granderson. He seems like a class act and a smart guy, though (not to mention a great player), so maybe he'll join the select group of Yankees that I can begrudgingly respect. [Razz]
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I grew up in Detroit, and anyone from Detroit knows how fanatical people here are about the Red Wings, so there's no question regarding my loyalty to them as my hockey team. Hockey is the only sport I follow and support with any zeal.

Basketball I'm not really a fan of.

And for football, well, it's Detroit, and who cares about the Lions?

QFT


I wasn't a big fan of any sport growing up, but my dad was, so I had at least some experience with sports teams growing up. I moved a few times, but most of my formative years were spent in the suburbs of Detroit.

I met Isiah Thomas in 1981-82, and he was really cool. My dad and I played basketball a bit, or at least shot shots around the court, so I liked basketball a bit, but meeting Isiah peaked my interest. My dad used to get free tickets to the Piston's games. Then, right around that time, they got good. Really, really good, and started playing the Celtics in the playoffs all the time.

I became a huge fan. I really don't follow basketball these days, but I still like the Pistons.

I loved hockey since the early 80's, back when Detroit couldn't play their way out of a wet paper bag. Joe Louis arena is a great place to see a game, and I went to 6-7 games when they kept losing in the quarterfinals. Stevie Yzerman was a great player, one of the best all time, and we got him right around the time I started watching hockey, so he is without a doubt my favorite player of all time.

I moved to MA in 1988, and hated it. I thought the Red Sox were a joke, and no one had laughed harder than me when Buckner had let the ball go between his legs in 1986. The Patriots were cellar dwellers, as bad or worse than the Lion's.

But I had to admire the New England fans of both teams. They were always hopeful, and really into their teams. AS I grew older I because less resentful of sports in general (Most of the issues I had with other people in High School were with "jocks"), and I gradually because a fan of both teams because of my friends enthusiasm.

It was years before either team won a damn thing, so it's not like I was on a bandwagon....and I had always hated the Yankees so it really wasn't too hard of an adjustment. [Big Grin] I love the Red Sox, and have been to a few games with Tampa down here in FL, and it was a lot of fun.

[ January 01, 2010, 02:19 PM: Message edited by: Kwea ]

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LargeTuna
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I'm a big sports fan and i'm from Philly. Never had much choice about what team's my loyalty lies with (Eagles, Flyers, Phillies). But the team I feal the biggest connection with and care about the most is Arsenal FC. An English soccer team based in North London. I've never been to England, but I am a pretty good soccer player, and even more of a soccer supporter.

I just think the way they play is the most entertaining to watch, and many neutral fans would agree. I like their youth policy where they develop more young players into great atheletes in the game than almost any other (except for the Clairefontaine and Barcelona academies to name a couple) They live within their means and don't just throw money around like most teams they compete with. Their manager has been with them since 1996 and they seem to have no plans of firing him even if he has a shaky season or two. I could go on and on, there's just som much i like about this particular football club that I don't see in any other team in England, that makes what teams like Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea are all doing now, and what Manchester United did back in 1991 look like trying to ruin the game.

To most people what I'm saying probably won't mean much, but i'm kind of an obsessive soccer fan. [Big Grin]

I even feel the rivalry they have with Tottenham hotspurs, who are team in very close proximity to arsenal. One of my family friends is from Tottenham and we can get in heated discussions. They usally get pretty jokey by the end though.

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Miro
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I grew up going to DC United (soccer) games, so my loyalty there is straightforward. For the couple years they existed, I followed the Washington Freedom (women's soccer). Any other sports, I'll root for DC teams out of hometown loyalty but I don't follow or care much about them.

Now that I live a couple hours from Seattle, though, I'm starting to get into the Seattle Sounders both because of proximity and the franchise and fans are so much fun. I went to the MLS Cup in Seattle this year and even though the Sounders didn't make it to the finals, Sounders fans (along with fans from the two teams that did make it) met up in Pioneer Square like they do before all home games, hung out, and then marched to the stadium with some of the owners and players from the Sounders.

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Tarrsk
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
I love the Red Sox, and have been to a few games with Tampa down here in FL, and it was a lot of fun.

I saw the Rays at Fenway during their "holy crap where did THEY come from?!" run to the World Series last year. They've become a helluva team - some real stars in Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford (among others) and a whip-smart manager in Joe Maddon. The AL East is crowded these days.
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theamazeeaz
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It's like religion usually, passed done from parents and community.
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Shanna
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Football is my sport. I used to hate watching most sports growing up but in middle school a friend took me a football playoff game that the local high school was playing in. I had an unbelievable amount of fun at that game. I went to tons of games once I was in high school myself. It helps that our school was one if the best in a state that lived and breathed high school football. I love the sense of community that comes with watching sports.

Now I'm a Saints fan since I now live just outside of New Orleans. And I have to say that Saints fans are a special breed of people which adds to the fun. Haha. Only other sport I follow but to a lesser extent is baseball. I grew up watching St. Louis Cardinals with my parents who are from that city.

But I don't know stats or really do much outside of watching the games of personal interest.

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FlyingCow
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I'm less of a professional sports person, to be honest.

I'm a big Rutgers fan because I'm an alumnus, for instance. I follow the football and mens/womens basketball teams.

As far as professional sports, in the NJ area you have a lot of options. I was a Mets fan until a friend took me to a Yankee game when I was 8 and Don Mattingly hit two home runs near my section. Of course, that was 1986 and a bad year to switch loyalties... but, it worked out well for the Mets, at least. [Smile]

As for antagonism between fans, a lot of that comes from historic interactions. Eventually, if two teams play often enough over time, there will be "injustices" each side feels their team has suffered at the hands of the other. Taunting escalates, harsh words are exchanged... and with enough close games and big wins on both sides, a rivalry develops.

The Duke/UNC rivalry is a huge one, with a storied history (wiki), for instance. UNC is a public university, while Duke is private, adding to the friction. They are only 8 miles from one another, too, which further increases the tension.

At this point, Rutgers doesn't have any strong rivals. We used to be rivals with Princeton, but we don't really play them in many sports anymore so that rivalry has cooled. Even so, Rutgers fans tend to be fairly negative toward Syracuse, UConn, Notre Dame, and Penn State teams/fans (for a variety of reasons).

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Verily the Younger
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quote:
Originally posted by FlyingCow:
As for antagonism between fans, a lot of that comes from historic interactions. Eventually, if two teams play often enough over time, there will be "injustices" each side feels their team has suffered at the hands of the other. Taunting escalates, harsh words are exchanged... and with enough close games and big wins on both sides, a rivalry develops.

Interesting point. I never thought about it that way. That would actually explain it pretty well; just as you can't understand the English/Irish hatred or the Greek/Turkish hatred without reference to history, I suppose the same would be true for sports teams. It always seemed silly to me that supporters of one sports team would, as a group, harbor particular irritation about a specific other team, but I guess if you know the histories of the teams it makes more sense. [Mr. Data]Intriguing.[/Mr. Data]
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Tstorm
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At best, it's a temporary distraction and cheap entertainment, for me. My interest in sports is definitely waning. I've been to many sports events, ranging from school events while I was growing up, to the events at the local community college (where I'm employed). At this point, outside of work, I don't attend or watch many sports events. In fact, if it weren't for work I'd probably just ignore the world of sports completely.

I usually wander into the gym over my lunch hour and watch basketball, without paying any attention to the plays or people. It's like watching fish in an office aquarium to me, anymore. I've seen countless basketball games and it's a sport I mostly despise, so I'm completely numb to it.

I guess I don't get anything meaningful out of watching sports events. Cheering for a winning or losing team is a fundamentally empty experience. Sure, it's much more enjoyable to watch a winning team as opposed to a losing team. I won't dispute that. However, at the end of the day, I'd rather have done something myself, built something, or participated in an activity myself, personally.


To actually answer Verily's question:
1. Cheer for the local college team (my employer).
2. Cheer for the hometown teams (in the rare event I see a game).
3. Cheer for the alma mater.
4. Cheer for the closest professional league teams, which means Kansas City.
5. Despise some schools because they deserve it, including, but not limited to...anyone who is routinely good at beating my teams.

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FlyingCow
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As an example of why one group of fans might dislike another, there is the relationship between Rutgers and Notre Dame fans.

Rutgers and Notre Dame both have very, very long football histories. Rutgers played in the first football game in 1869 and Notre Dame has played since 1887. Of course, their success in the intervening years has been as different as night and day (Notre Dame focused a lot of money and effort into football, while Rutgers did not until around 2001).

Currently, Rutgers' program is on the rise, and Notre Dame's is on the decline.

Notre Dame fans see Rutgers fans as upstarts who are too big for their britches, thinking they are good enough to play the "big boys" but really still the team they were 30 years ago. Rutgers fans see ND fans as has-beens that are relying on their former glory and haven't had a relevant program in nearly 20 years.

The last meeting between ND and Rutgers was a blowout in the 90s, with ND running up the score, which is a sore spot for Rutgers fans and a point of emphasis for ND fans.

RU and ND had arranged a home-and-home series of 10 games when RU was a bad/mediocre team, and ND backed out of the deal when RU became a good/mediocre team. They wanted instead a four game deal: two at ND, and two at a neutral site (they wouldn't play on RU's home field). RU declined.

Add to this that ND has the opportunity to "steal" bowls from the Big East (the conference RU is in) due to contractual agreements, and that ND is a member of the Big East in all sports but football (because they refuse to join any conference, due to school tradition/pride).

Throw in the smattering of private Catholic school vs. public school, east coast school vs. midwest school, etc, etc... and there is quite a bit of animosity.

And this is between two teams that don't even play each other!

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Farmgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by Tstorm:

4. Cheer for the closest professional league teams, which means Kansas City.

TStorm - then you're about the only person in Kansas who still does... [Wink]


quote:
How did you choose your sports teams?
Hot quarterbacks (Romo, Favre, etc.)

[Big Grin] [Wink]

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Tstorm
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Farmgirl -- Yeah, the numbers sure dwindle during a bad streak, don't they?

Well, I've already made my choices. Maybe in another life it will occur to me that I should pick teams that are already winning. Like some people I know... (not you, of course, just other people)

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Risuena
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I have a friend who was born in San Diego, so he follows the Chargers and the LA Clippers (who used to be in San Diego). He attended Florida, so for college sports, he follows the Gators. And he grew up in Puerto Rico, so he watches the Chicago Cubs - because WGN could be seen in PR, and WGN always showed Cubs games. And somehow along the way he picked up the NY Rangers as his hockey team. I have no idea how he did that.
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AGNK
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First post here. Decided to respond to something I am familiar with. [Smile]

I grew up in Arkansas so I am a big Razorback fan. But I describe my love of the Pittsburgh Steelers as chronological as opposed to geographical. I was eight years old when they won their first Super Bowl. My dad was a Houston Oilers fan and the Steelers were a rival for them back in the 70s (when the Oilers were still a franchise). My dad hated the Steelers so I took to them to form a rivalry between me and my dad. Whne they took that first Super Bowl when I was a kid, i was hooked. Have loved them ever since. And it had nothing to do with where they were, or where I was. It had everything to do with a kid wanting to back a winner.

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