Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I take being a sports fan seriously. I know it’s silly, but I do. I get annoyed (and sometimes offended) at others haphazard ways of being a fan. I don’t even like it when people wear a team’s hat because “they like the colors.” That one makes me nuts.
I believe that there has been unwritten rules to being a fan for years. An understood code between knowledgeable sports nuts, but they haven’t been written. Well, I’m about to change that. I propose that the following be adopted as the official rules of being a fan. A sort of Sports Bigamy Manifesto. I honestly feel that I am just the nut to do this. Who else would take this seriously?
These rules are basically like the Constitution of the United States, while the tenets are inspired and well thought out, they are subject to change and/or amendment. Let’s get started.
1. The teams you loved as a child are your teams for life. You cannot jump teams due to wins and losses. The guys 10 years ago whose favorite teams were the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees, those better still be your teams. If you have jumped to the San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox, I think you should have your toenails pulled out by a pair of rusty pliers. If you have grown up in an area that does not have major sports teams, you can adopt a favorite club. However, if you grew up in Montana and decided that you are a Lakers fan, you better still be a Lakers fan. The teams you chose as a child, you are stuck with them forever.
2. You cannot wear a teams hat or jersey because you like the colors. Absolutely not. If you do wear another team’s jersey, it must be a “throwback” jersey of a player who is no longer active. For example; me wearing a New York Knicks Earl “The Pearl” Monroe jersey would be okay. Me wearing a New York Knicks Nate Robinson jersey would not be okay. Even though Nate played at the University of Washington. (U-Dub to the hip impaired.) Larry Bird, Bob Cousy and Ted Williams jerseys are fine. But unless you are from Boston, Tom Brady, David Ortiz and Paul Pierce are not. (The hip-hop community is a major violator of this rule. Who’s your favorite team there Snoop Dog?)
3. If your team is eliminated in the playoffs (or they stink so bad they weren’t even invited to the party), you can pull for another team to win. You may not purchase the others teams gear and you may not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE refer to another team as “we” or “us.” It is far more acceptable to root against a team than root for a team that is not yours.
4. It is okay to refer to your teams as “us” or “we.” Fans do matter, ask any professional athlete, they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s not called “home field advantage” for nothing. The phrase team extends beyond the lines of the playing field.
5. In an established rivalry, you cannot like both teams. You cannot like Duke and North Carolina, the Yankees and the Red Sox, Michigan and Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame. You just cannot. You must prefer one and hope the other loses every game in a blowout.
6. It is in bounds to criticize or question your team’s management, coaching strategy or player performances. It shows you are knowledgeable and that you care.
7. You should not be a fair-weather fan. While you may not be as engaged when your team is good and winning, you still must hang in there with them when they are struggling. Los Angeles fans are the absolute worst when it comes to this rule. When the Dodgers are losing, nobody will even admit to following them. But if they’re winning, you see flags flying from every car. It’s ridiculous. Clippers fans are even worse. There are also those who flip back and forth between USC and UCLA depending on who is more trendy at the moment. And you wonder why the second largest city in America doesn’t have an NFL team.
8. You may not leave a ball game early to “beat the traffic” unless the game is an absolute blowout. Your team must be down 7 runs in baseball, 25 points in basketball and 3 touchdowns in football. Beating traffic is not important to a true fan.
9. If a player from your team leaves, these are the rules.
A. If he is traded, and seemed to not want to leave, you may still pull for him to play well unless he is playing against your team. For me, Gary Payton was a good example of this. I still love The Glove.
B. If the player signs as a free agent for more money, you hate him. Especially if that player has gone on the record as saying that his new contract will not be a money decision. There is a reason that Washingtonians hate Alex Rodriguez. There is a reason there are signs in the crowd reading “Pay-Rod” and people showering the field with phony money when Pay-Rod is up to bat in Safeco Field. I hate him for good reason. I stood in the Mariner locker room as an intern for KOMO 4 holding the microphone and listened to Alex repeat his “Will not be a money decision” mantra. I wish him a severe case of jock itch.
C. If the player signs with a RIVAL team for more money, you can hope his career is ended by a tragic groin pull. See Johnny Damon for this one.
I feel that violations of these rules should be a punishable offense. Maybe we should have a committee to decide to the severity of each violation. I would be Chairman of the Board of course.
Punishments could go something like this:
Minor Offense – No Sportscenter for three months.
Medium Offense – No cable/dish for one year.
Major Offense – One year in a minimum-security prison facility. While there you would be forced to watch tapes of WNBA games every day. The Supreme Court may rule that as cruel and unusual punishment however.
Years ago, right before I moved to New York, I sat down with my 93 year old grandmother to tell her I was leaving Seattle. Keep in mind that I was scheduled to move to New York the week of the 9/11 attacks. My move was delayed a few weeks. So, with the country racked with fear and New York having just survived the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in our history, my Grandma only had one question. She looked me right in the eye and asked “Honey, you’re not going to become a Yankees fan are you?” No Grandma, I am not. Hand to heaven I am not going to become a Yankees fan.
Now that, my friends, was a sports fan.
Chairman of the Board