Sunday, September 23, 2012

Team loyalty

This weekend, while watching football, I came to realize that I am becoming less of a New York Jets fan. This realization bothered me.

How do you become a fan of a team? I grew up mostly a hockey fan and a baseball fan. My father wasn't really a sports fan so I don't know how that really happened. Why those sports over others? I don't know. We did have a then minor league hockey team near by, the Long Island Ducks. It was more of a "Slap Shot" type of team that folded once the Islanders were created. I could never watch the Islanders since you had to pay extra for that channel on cable and that wasn't happening in my house. The Rangers, in contrast, had more games on free TV. In college, I went to Hofstra University which was across the street from the Islander's Nassau Coliseum. We watched the games in the local bar and often I was the only Rangers fan. That was fine by me then. They were my team.

Baseball is more obvious. My grandfather was a die hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I don't think that he ever got over them leaving for Los Angeles. All this happened before I was born but he remained a baseball fan so he had to find a different way to root without team loyalty. He hated the Yankees. He couldn't have any sort of allegiance to the Mets as they were a "sand lot" team. His solution was to watch the Game of the week and every Yankee game on TV. Yankee game? Yes, but he rooted against them. Every game. He wouldn't even call them the Yankees. They were the "Prima donnas".

I was a Mets fan but it became hard to root for them in the Vince Coleman/Bobby Bonilla era so in the 1990s, if you asked me, I would have probably said that NHL hockey was my favorite sport. In 1991 I bought a share of season tickets for the NY Rangers with 5 others so it worked out that I went to a game every few weeks. I somewhat religiously watched the games on TV and sometimes even listened in on the radio if I was in transit. I was in MSG when they won the cup. I had a wardrobe that was further enhanced by many of the 94 Stanley Cup champions. After they went on strike the last time, I told them to keep their tickets. I haven't watched a game since. Now they are on strike/lock out now. I don't miss it.

I am still a Mets fan. Yes, they do not have a good record but that doesn't matter so much to me. I realized that while results count, how they go about their business is important to me. Why? I don't know but I want to be able to see they are trying their best, that they are honorable to the fans and themselves, and they care.

I do like watching pro football on Sunday afternoons. I watch the games while I putter around the house or sometimes on the bike trainer. MNF is too late for me and I never got into college football (my college doesn't field a team any more). I'm finding the professionalism of the NY Giants is making the Jets look bad. This has nothing to do with them winning the Super Bowl last year but compare that the all the flash backs to the Jets melt down last year hurt. The Tebow situation doesn't help either. They say "ground and pound" but that isn't how they are playing. It appears that they really don't have a well thought out plan or approach.

I am going to stop watching them? Not yet but I find myself wearing my Jets jersey less and less. I'm afraid of a trend happening here and hope they do something to right the ship. The biggest problem I have is that I don't think the Jets think this is even a problem. That will kill my (and others) loyalty to the team and it could take years to recover.

Doubt this? Ask the NHL.


TriMOEngr said...

Growing up in a household that held hunting and fishing to a higher standard than any sport, I never became much of any kind of sports fan. But HS football was pretty big (the "in" thing to do on Friday nights to walk around the track that surrounded the field and "see/be seen") - only paid attention to the actual game a few times including 3 of 4 years going to state championships which we won twice (late 80's/early 90s). University of Missouri was big in lots of sports, but I can count the number of any games (football/basketball) on one hand - and can't bring myself to pay post-SEC prices (I'm a rotten alum). Living half way between KC and St. L, I had moments of awareness of the Royals during the George Brett era and Cardinals during the Ozzie Smith and Mark McGwire eras - but still not a huge fan. And the baseball strike a while back didn't help. Have never seen a NHL game. Still occassionally go to a HS football game because now it is my kids that want to go see their friends and at $16 for all four of us, it is a pretty budget friendly way to spend a Fri night (which we did this weekend - our team won in a absolutely lopsided game). Short version - guess I don't really "get" being a sports fan.

Ransick said...

I'm a big Steeler fan. My folks are from Pittsburgh so I grew up with being a Steeler fan being as important as being Catholic. I'm no longer Catholic, but that's a different story. Always found baseball boring, and never really had hockey on tv since we only had three channels growing up and weren't in a major hockey market. After moving near St. Louis many years ago, I started watching hockey and became a Blues fan. Love the sport. I am disgusted with the lockout like I am with most pro strikes/lockouts. It disgusts me to see the filthy rich arguing with the really rich about who should be more rich. Disgusting.....

Unknown said...

I am a die hard 49er fan. It doesn't matter if they are having a good or bad season. I am like a loyal dog. I also have other teams that I like, for instance, I like the Vikings because my cousin used to play for them and I like the Houston Texans because my same cousin played for them too. But if the Niners play the Vikings or the Texans, I always root for the Niners. I don't really remember how I became a 49er fan. It just happened while I watched as a kid and it stuck.

Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily find myself falling out of favor with a team, but the sport itself. For example, when I was younger I was a big baseball fan. Now, I couldn't care much, but I still track my favorite teams and hope they win.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I still root for all my teams religously, although being a lions, tigers, pistons, and redwings fan, my expectations are low based on how bad some of them have been. The only good consistent team I root for is locked out, figures.