Now we’ve all heard this before. And yes, I meant to say we. I’m grouping us into a group. We, in this case, is the fan. The fan which is short for fanatic. That’s what we are, right? We’re all sport fanatics. But there’s something that we aren’t. We aren’t a part of the team that we cheer for.
Call me picky or call me clueless.
But you are a fan and that’s all.
“We can’t run this play. If we lose this game, it’s going to hurt our playoff chances.” – Oh really? Tell me when Mike Tomlin has gone to you before for advice.
“Why did Clint Hurdle leave Clint Barmes in the game. He’s killing us.” – Killing is a whole other topic, but no, no he isn’t. His play is hurting the Pirates. Your favorite team. Not you.
“The Ravens are our bitter rival, but if the Niners win, they’ll tie us in Super Bowl rings.” – Congratulations. I had no idea Mr. Rooney gave you a ring. May I see it?
The correct word here is they. Yes you love the team and yes you want to have that connection that you’re on the team. I get it. But in reality, you aren’t.
Ask the players who are making millions of dollars because they were training since they were four years old to get where they are. They are the ones risking their health night in and night out. Not you.
“We are the fans, where would this team be without us?”
I’ve heard this one on Twitter from a follower after I went on a rant before and I think many feel the same way. Yes you buy their merchandise, watch them play and your money goes indirectly to the team. You are absolutely right. If you want the truth though, without you, they’re still a team.
They are the Miami Marlins, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Rays, Florida Panthers and Miami Dolphins. They are still teams that are playing and they still exist. Every athlete says they love playing in front of fans and they genuinely mean it, but in a technical sense, they don’t need you to exist.
What about paying taxes for the stadiums or arenas? Does that qualify you to say you’re part of the team? No. Simple as that. Unless you’re Jay-Z or have stock in the publicly owned Green Bay Packers, then no.
What about college teams? You pay the tuition. You go to that school. To me, it’s a gray area. I personally still don’t agree with it, but I’m not as quick to say something.
As ESPN writer Chris Jones said, apply the ‘we’ to other forms of entertainment. Apply it to books, movies, TV shows and music. Sounds wrong doesn’t it? Well that’s exactly what it sounds like when you do it with sports also.
Then there is the sense of community. I absolutely love going to a Penguins game and seeing the unity between the fans (until the parking lot that is). Cheering “Let’s Go Pens” and slapping high fives every time there is a goal. Or let’s take a look at the heart and soul of Pittsburgh. It’s, of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The six-time Super Bowl champions. They ARE Pittsburgh. The fans ARE Pittsburgh. No matter what, they are their team.
While it won’t happen with the Steelers like it has with other teams, re-location does happen. Look at the Atlanta Thrashers, Montreal Expos, Quebec Nordiques, (soon to be) Sacramento Kings and Seattle Supersonics. Ask a true fan of those teams. Not a casual one, but a true fan. When those respective teams went to Winnipeg, Washington, Colorado, Seattle and Oklahoma City, those fans couldn’t stand that team anymore. Cleveland hated Baltimore when the Browns turned into the Ravens.
Some loyalty eh?
Not saying that’s wrong at all and truthfully, I’d probably feel the same way.
There’s nothing wrong with loving a team. It allows us to escape from the harsh reality that we call real life. Sunday is a day for us to forget our 9-5, forget our debt, our struggling marriage or what have you. It’s a day for us to feel connected and cheer for our favorite team.
Maybe it’s just me, but if the Jets ever win the Super Bowl (don’t laugh) in the near future, I don’t think one of the first concerns of any of the players will be how happy this makes Fireman Ed. It’s about those 53 men on a football team, the 23 players on a hockey team, 12 men on a basketball team or 25 on a baseball team.
As much as we celebrate it like we won, in actuality, they did. They’ll reap the benefits while we just have bragging rights of what our favorite team has done.
That’s what separates them from us.
Photo Credits: Getty Images