The blog has been “live” for about a week or so, but I wanted to put something out there before we get much further. As with any free-speech forum, when you speak your mind, you run the risk of overgeneralizing and/or stereotyping both sides of the argument. If you don’t believe me, just listen to the rhetoric of the Republican and Democratic parties lately. So when we talk about Red Sox Nation or the Yankee Universe, to whom are we referring?
It starts with fans. Now there are good fans and bad fans, die-hard fans and casual fans. Some are civil and some are rowdy. There’s a wide variety out there, just like cuts of jeans. (My goodness, when I was growing up, there was only one kind: blue.) If your support of a team helps define you, then so be it. But what does your method of support say about you?
I can remember being a sophomore at Duke, back in the day, way back before the internet (yes, the internet was just a twinkling in Al Gore’s mind). I was watching a Duke basketball game on TV with some fraternity brothers. Our opponent’s point guard was killing us; whatever he threw up found the bottom of the net. I could feel the game slipping away. To win we would need to stop this guy. Midway through the second half, the point guard and a Duke player got tangled up going for a rebound, and the guard came down hard…and stayed down, grabbing his leg. Before I knew what was happening, I jumped up and yelled, “Good! I hope he’s outta the game.” The room got extremely quite as I slowly turned to face my friends. “Scott, what’re ya doing? You rooting for a guy to be injured?! ” I had crossed the line. My emotions had gotten the better of me. I was not cheering for my team; I was wishing something negative upon the opponent. We won the game, yet I felt awful. Not a clip for my life’s highlight reel. But I’ve never forgotten it.
So jump ahead to the Patriots winning Superbowl XXXVI. The parade winds through Boston and the players start to address the crowd, thanking them for their support during the season. And from out of the blue a bunch of fans start chanting “Yankees Suck! Yankees Suck!” Are you kidding me? It’s football season! The Yankees have nothing to do with it. (If anything, the chant should have been “St. Louis Sucks!”) Not only that, but if you felt the need to cheer about baseball while Tom Brady is holding the Lombardy Trophy above his head, couldn’t you cheer “Let’s go, Red Sox” or something along those lines?
My point is not that some fans sometimes forget who they’re cheering for. It’s what they’re cheering for. Fandom should be fun, not vindictive. If you like a team, you should cheer for the team positively. This is what makes a rivalry: two teams and their fans believing that they are the best. It’s about bragging rights, not sophomoric insults.
So when we reference fans in Red Sox Nation or the Yankee Universe, we will try to be specific (e.g. fans on the radio, the media, people at the ballpark, etc.) and not make broad sweeping comments about an entire population. Heck, some of my best friends are Red Sox fans. And I mean that in the most positive way.
It gets late early out there.