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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
What Makes a Fan?
On this morning's episode of Rick and Bubba, the guys interviewed Jason Spires. Spires is a passionate fan for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the L.A. Dodgers and the L.A. Lakers but has found himself missing one aspect of the rabid fandom in his life--an NFL team. So, he decided he'd pick one and began a quest to do so, including a web site and sending a letter trying to get various NFL teams to tell him why he should root for them.

He says that he started the web site for himself, his family and his buddies, but now he's got interest from several national media outlets, including the Evil Empire themselves, ESPN. In fact, he appeared yesterday on Outside the Lines to discuss his quest.

Listening to Jason talk about what he was looking for in a team got me thinking about some things that have been rolling around inside my head this past week--especially in light of how poorly my pro teams have fared so far this year.

The most interesting question is, what makes you a fan of this team over that team. For example, how did I come to love the Redskins and Titans so much and, at the same time, despise Dallas, Baltimore and San Francisco. As I've stated before, my love of the Redskins was born when my family lived near D.C. in the mid-80's and the team was making its first run under Joe Gibbs. My passion was lit when the Redskins won the Super Bowl for the first time and it's never really waned in that time. So, of course you can see why I'd choose to dislike the Cowboys so much since they are the natural rival to my favorite team.

Which brings up my relatively new love for the Titans. I'll admit this one took me a bit by surprise because when the Oilers came to Tennessee, I really didn't have much interest in them. I would watch games and I was happy they beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but it was really their first season as the Titans that my interest began. That was the season they changed names, moved into the Coliseum and won a lot of games, including earning a berth in the Super Bowl. And while you can see a common theme here--teams going to the Super Bowl--I think it's deeper than that. Otherwise, I'd pick a new team every year and there is no way on this earth I will pull for the Patriots or Cowboys if they're in the Super Bowl. I think part of what endeared the Titans to me was that they embraced their new home and also realized they didn't need to compete with the college game for fan love and loyalty in the South. I've been to a few NFL games but the Titans is the only one that comes closest to capturing the spirit of going to a college game. I think their embracing that has helped a lot...plus they've got Mike Keith who is the best play by play guy in the NFL.

If we could clone him so he could call UT games on Saturday, I'd be really happy.

But back to my point...

Of course, an integral part of being a fan is loyalty to a team. For one thing, have you seen the price tag on the various articles of clothing for teams these days? That's one reason I can't see how band-wagon fans can afford to jump from team to team each year. Also, I don't see how they can really enjoy and savor your team being good if you haven't been through lean times. As incredible as the Titans' run was last year, it was even more fun for me because I'd watched a lot of games where we weren't very good and had a down year. It's the same feeling I hope to get someday again with the Redskins, though right now it's not looking too good.

In listening to Jason, he said that what he wants is to be loyal to one team and be a rabid fan for them. Which is why I pray he doesn't choose the Cowboys because the last thing we need is one more idiot Cowboys fans out there.

But it also raised another question for me--one that Clay Travis' book "On Rocky Top"raised. What is it about these teams that makes us care so much? Why do we get so up when they win and so down when they lose?

Why do we let three hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon cloud our outlook on the rest of the week?

And is Jason condemning himself to this when and if he picks his NFL team?

I'd certainly love to make a case that he should choose the Titans or the Redskins, but I hate to tell him that no matter who you pick, at some point they're going to break your hearts.

I just wish the Titans and Redskins could find a way to stop doing it every Sunday. Or at least that's how it's seemed this year...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/30/2009 02:00:00 PM | |
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