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Why do you root for those guys? You’ve never lived there!

Dec 30, 2011, 1:45 PM EDT

Braves Fans

Even though he called me and my ilk “underwear guys” the other day, I still read George Vecsey in the Times. What can I say? He’s good. And he’s just about done, so no sense in boycotting him a day or two before his retirement.

Today he tackles a subject close to my heart: rooting for a team from a geographic area with which you have no connection.  It vexes him and he’s curious about it. He starts by talking about Cardinals fans who are not from Cardinal country, then moves on to other sports:

In New York I run into Packers fans who have never lived in Wisconsin, Canadiens fans who have never lived in La Belle Province, Celtics fans who admire Russell and Bird and Pierce but have no trace of a Boston accent. The cable brings sport into our homes and bars, causing fans to pick a team from outside their natural habitat … If you root for a team not from your region – or know somebody who does – can you give some details? How does that work out for everybody?

As I’ve said countless times around here, I’ve never been to a game in Atlanta. My Braves thing is because they were the only baseball I could watch after I moved to West Virginia in 1985 and they just grew on me. I suppose for a lot of people there’s a front-runner thing too (I’d guess there were fewer Packers, Cowboys and Bulls fans around the country in the 1980s than there are now).  But there are countless other reasons too.

Neat topic. Almost so neat that I am willing to forgive Vecsey for saying that bloggers have ruined the fine art of reporting just as he publishes a column in which he’s basically crowd-sourcing like a lot of bloggers do.

  1. stlouis1baseball - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    The primary reason the St. Louis Cardinals have some many fans is because for years St. Louis was the West Coast team. Still one of the primary reasons their road attendance ranks among MLB’s leaders year-in-year out.

    • SmackSaw - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      KMOX has a lot to do with it. I have driven extensively across the Midwest and have always been able to catch a Card’s game.

  2. sultryabyss - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    I’ve been a lifelong SF Giants and I’m from Northern Indiana. It started when I got a 94′ Bonds card with his hat on backwards. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever and I’ve been a fan through thick and thin. I think it all comes down to what catches your eye when you are young and it sticks with you.

  3. mike8016 - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    I met someone who is a Celtic, Steeler and a Yankees fan. Talk about a Bandwagoner

  4. Gonzo - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    What I don’t understand is, why do people get so upset at other fan’s team of choice? I live in Philly and there are tons of Cowboy fans. Go ahead and root for them. As long as you’re not a jerk, I’m not going to judge you.

  5. Rob - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    The guy that wrote this “Adolphic’ article must have some of Hitler’s DNA in him. Very nice of you tell Americans who to love and support?

    Forcing people to follow a team that they don’t like is phony. I guess everyone who lives in West Florida( Tampa-St Pete) should all adore and follow the Rays?

    Would you follow the Rays if you lived in Tampa? Especially when you have the New York Yankees training in your backyard.

    Follow the Yankees or the Rays? A staggering choice. I guess being an American is being told what to do rather than choosing on our own freewill.

    I think I will take the purity of the Yankee franchise as opposed to the Teletubbie mantra the Rays dawn.

    I follow a team because I like them, not becaused I’m forced to. You sir should be deported along with your 5×7 photo of the Gestapo.

    Go Yankees!(without any NY connections)

    • cur68 - Dec 31, 2011 at 2:26 AM

      So Godwin’s Law in 6 words is it? Dang, man. Did you read the article before you spouted out this wall of text or did you intend to intentionally invoke The Law to kill the discussion? I fail to see how you came up with all of this because neither George Vecsey or Craig Calcaterra demand that anyone do anything in any way shape or form. They’re recounting stories and inviting a chat about non-local sports interests. Jeez.

  6. foreverchipper10 - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Get down to Turner Field and grab some Chick-Fil-A and be smug about life. Seriously. I did it and you can too.

  7. yahmule - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I laugh when I see people who believe there’s only one way to follow a particular sport to be considered a real fan. The number of reasons a person might want to root for a team from another city – or against the home team – are numerous and are not limited to a desire to “root for a winner”. These are the same moral crusaders who believe roto baseball violates some sacred rooting trust. Just a narrow-minded and imperious viewpoint, in my opinion.

  8. bowens3181 - Dec 30, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Being from Montreal, where we only have one major league professional sports team (Expos were awesome while they lasted, but they’re gone), me and my friends have all been forced to adopt teams that we have no geographical relationship to as our favourite teams. For example I like the Cubs in baseball and that Nuggets in basketball. I go to Maine every summer for vacation and thats how I developed my love for the Patriots. However, and this drives all my friends crazy, my most beloved sports team is not the one that calls my city home, the Canadiens, my favourite hockey team, and my favourite sports team in general is the Philadelphia Flyers. I have never been to Philadelphia nor do I have any relatives or connections to the area. I have simply always loved their rough style of play. There is more to choosing a sports team then the region you live in.

  9. offseasonblues - Dec 30, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Why do you root for those guys? is exactly the question I wanted to ask the owner of the car ahead of me on the highway a couple of days ago. The first bumper sticker I noticed was Packers. I checked the plates and they were the same as mine – NH. Ok, so maybe they moved here from Wisconsin. Then I looked at the other stickers: Penguins, Thunder, and NYY.

    There’s got to be a story there.

  10. Lucas - Dec 30, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Craig, I can do you one better…not only have I never been to an Atlanta Braves game (not in Atlanta anyway), I’ve never even BEEN to ATL and I’ve been a huge Braves fan since 1990 (essentially when they brought up David Justice, I just really, really liked him as a player, not to mention the fact that I watched them daily on TBS). I’m a Cubs fan by birth (North Chicago), I’m a Tigers fan by blood (mom went to the 1968 World Series even) and a Padres fan by location (because I’ve been stationed out here for almost 13 years now). I’m a Braves fan, and have been for 20+ years, and that’s all by choice.

    And, yes, for those who think I’m a bandwagon jumper, that year they brought up Justice they were still horrible. It was the following year that they did that “worst-to-first” thing and made it to the WS.

  11. mgflolox - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    I’m from the East Bay, so I’ve always been a fan of the A’s, Raiders & Warriors going back to the early ’70’s. Certain teams come along once in a while that have players that are so much fun to watch (mid-90’s Mariners and Indians come to mind), that I develop a definite fondness for them. But no matter what, I always come back to my local guys.

  12. mattjerr - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    George is an Aye Hole. If never lived in LA, but why shouldn’t I be a diehard Clippers fan?

  13. raftershostmom - Dec 30, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    I was born and raised in Youngstown, OH…south of Cleveland and slightly northwest of Pittsburgh. My family was always a fan of the Steelers. Had more to do with the fact that many generations of my family worked in the valley steel mills rather than the fact the the Cleveland Browns just stink. But when it came to baseball, the Cleveland Indians were all I cared about.

    Now I live in central Wisconsin. My closet is full of Indians and Steelers T-shirts and jerseys. Doesn’t make me very comfortable living here surrounded by cheeseheads but, having been raised in Youngstown, I’m holding my own.

  14. jdd428 - Dec 30, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, I grew up a WSox/Bears/Blackhawks/Bulls (not a big NBA guy though) fan. But as I grew up, I detached from all but the White Sox. … In the late 80s/early 90s I became a big fan of Warren Moon & the run-n-gun Houston Oilers and grew indifferent about the Bears ever since. When Moon left the Oilers, I changed as well – latching on to the newly christened Carolina Panthers, and they have held my allegiance ever since. Around that same time, I also began admiring Pavel Bure and the Vancouver Canucks (cursed 94 Rangers!) and have remained a Canucklehead to this day (cursed 11 Bruins!) – but I wish they’d stop trashing the city when they lose in the finals.

  15. RickyB - Dec 30, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    I grew up just outside the Chicago city limits, and rooted for the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks. But baseball, while I like both the Cubs and White Sox, I am a Yankee fan. When people ask me how I ended up that way, I simply tell them, “My dad raised me right.” Not a bandwagon thing, though the Yanks did win the Series when I was 6 and 7. Granted I was 25 by the time they won it again, so much of the first quarter century of my life was spent rooting for a team that gave me great heartache, which I know is hard to believe these days.

  16. ta192 - Dec 30, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    I’m one of those people. And my loyalties go back many years to before TV changed everything. My original rooting interests didn’t coalesce until the mid-50’s when the family moved out of DC to southern Florida. At that time, I became a fan of the LA Rams, the Cinncy Reds, the St Louis Hawks, and the LSU Tigers. Primarily it was the presence of one or more players that I really liked on these teams,, but it was more than that. Had that been the primary reason, I would have been a Bosox or Cardinal fan. There wasn’t then and there isn’t now anyone I liked better than Ted Williams, and Stan Musial was a close second. It had something to do with how they played the game and how much entertainment value the teams brought to the table. Later, I added the Oakland Raiders and the Arkansas Razorbacks (not much later) and that’s pretty much my rooting lineup circa 1963. It seemed that geography had absolutely nothing to do about it, but when the franchise moves came along, with the Rams and Hawks moving, I lost interest in them. My ardor for the Raiders even cooled when they moved to LA and hasn’t really come back to original levels since they went back to Oakland. So there, figure it out, I never have, but I’ve never felt the need to. I just root for who I like, and screw anyone that doesn’t think it’s appropriate…

  17. ta192 - Dec 30, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Oh, and I forgot to explain, I became an LSU fan in high school, and an Arkansas fan in college, while attending school at RIce. Later, I did tours at Yale and Florida, but it never changed my loyalties to LSU and Ark…just to further add to the confusion…

  18. mjagosports511 - Dec 31, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    ive lived in NJ for my entire life, yet for some reason i love teams like the Orlando Magic, and USF Football…im a general Yankees, Jets fan but how those florida teams for there is a mystery to even me

  19. saintssince8 - Dec 31, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    I am a Saints, Spurs and Astros fan…I grew up near New Orleans and have been a saints fan since I was 8 years old. Later in life I lived in San Antonio and lived there when the spurs won the championship in
    ’99. I also lived in Houston off and on for the past 20 yrs ’til moving to Missouri a year ago. I never grew up with hockey, but now that I am in Blues Territory, I will probably become a Blues fan eventually. One thing is for sure…once I pick a team as a favorite of mine, I stick with them. Even if I do not like your team, if you tell me that you have been a die hard for many years, I must respect that. To be a fair weather or frontrunner type fan, while you have that right, I believe you are cheating yourself out of being a true “dyed in the wool” fan…aka not a true fan. If you DO have a geographical connection, it means more to you than if not…

  20. deathmonkey41 - Dec 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    I’m a Yankees and Devil’s fan because I grew up in North Jersey almost smack dab between the two stadiums, but I’m also a Rams fan in the NFL (yes, I know they are awful). Not to date myself, but I was actually an L.A. Rams fan.

  21. localbandhero - Dec 31, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    My whole family hated the Cowboys when I was a small child. Naturally, I rooted for them just out of spite. 20 some odd years later, 1 playoff game win in about 18 years…and the Steeler fans still call me a bandwagoner. Pretty crappy wagon if you ask me.

    Then the city of Dallas just grew on me, and I root for all Dallas teams. Except baseball, I like the Indians simply because I live near Cleveland and can go see em 20+times a year.

  22. denny65 - Dec 31, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    I root for the Mariners because, hey, they’re the closest thing we have to professional baseball here in Alaska.

    (Although truthfully I’ve never computed the mileage to Japan. Oh well, I don’t speak Japanese, anyway.)

  23. agelardi - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    My situation may be even weirder. I grew up in New York City and none of my childhood friends & I rooted for the local football teams. I’m a Dolphins fan as was 1 other friend, I was friends with 3 brothers who were Redskins fans, knew 1 Eagles fan and 1 Cowboys fan. All of us born & raised in NYC.

    I can’t speak for the others but, growing up in the 80’s, the Jets stunk and Marino to the Marks brothers was amazing to watch. Plus I really liked the Miami uniforms as a kid. I have to admit, the Giants were/are my secondary team to root for. While I don’t live & die by Giants loses, I am glad when they win.

  24. Angry Orange Man - Jan 1, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    There are a myriad of reasons people root for teams outside their area. I assume that mainly it is front running because a lot of people who like teams away from them like the Yankees, Cowboys, Bulls, Niners, Steelers, Lakers etc.

    On the other hand I am a NYG and NYY fan and root for the Cubs and Dolphins in the NL and AFC. Cubs because they suck so bad and had players I liked in the late 90’s and the Dolphins whom my Uncle likes and had Dan Marino who was in Ace Ventura in the late 90’s.

  25. anybodyinhere - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    Kind of an interesting dynamic here in Baltimore. When the Colts tucked tail and ran, fans here gravitated towards the ‘Skins, Eagles, and Steelers, depending on whether they lived north, west, or south of the city. Many could not buy into Baltimore doing unto another city that was done unto us, so some of those loyalties remain (though I believe a greater percentage of Steelers fans did not embrace the new home team. I’m guessing that has a lot to do with the rivalry that used to exist between Pitt and Cleveland, but there is that element of bandwagon fans as well.)

    I also think there’s an element of people identifying with the fan base that comes into play as well. Want to identify with threatening psychos, be a Raiders fan. Want to be a down-to-earth small town guy, be a Packers fan. Want to be someone who thinks people are afraid of yellow dish towels, be a Steelers fan…

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