Here’s my response:
Look, I got hammered by my fellow Islander fans when I said I was pulling for the Rangers to win the Cup last year. I didn’t wear any Rangers gear, or anything like that. But they were playing the Penguins, Flyers, Canadiens and Kings on the way. I’m going to root for them?
Part of it was doing some freelance work for SNY.tv last year, writing about all of NY’s teams, and writing about the playoffs is more fun. But it’s more than that.
Having lived outside NY, and seeing how other people feel about NY, I’ve become very pro-NY, even with the teams I’m not a fan of. I can appreciate these other fans’ love for their team, but trash-talking other fans is, well, juvenile.
I was at a Jets game in 1983 to watch my Atlanta Falcons at Shea Stadium; I wore my red Falcons helmet and my Steve Bartkowski jersey. Now I didn’t hate the Jets, I actually liked that team (especially Bob Crable, had his jersey), but the Falcons were — and are — my team. Grown men jeered, cursed, threw food and screamed at me — I think I was 14 — as Jets built a 21-0 lead. As the Falcons came all the way back and finally won 27-21, it was pretty awesome. Bartkowski threw a couple of TD passes, one to my fave William Andrews the other to Billy “White Shoes” Johnson — who also had a 70-yard punt return TD. But I didn’t say a word. I didn’t dance or scream, or throw anything back at the grown-ass people who didn’t know me. I didn’t have to. My guys won.
I’ve had similar experiences, like the year the Jets mauled the Falcons at the Meadowlands in 1998. Poor Steve DeBerg started because Chris Chandler was hurt. I took a lot of heat that day too. Yet, when the Falcons went to the Super Bowl and the Jets didn’t that year, none of my Jets fans friends got a “suck it” call from me. I don’t do that.
See, I’m trying to teach my son about how to be a good sportsman, to avoid the Sportscenter mentality as he grows as an athlete and as a fan. Be better than the grown-ass people who cuss and taunt women and children at sporting events. When your team wins, treat people who lost like you’d want to be treated.
Sure, I have enjoy my debates with Rangers/Devils/Nets/Yankees/Giants/Jets fans, but ultimately they love their team, as I do mine. The only teams I truly despise?
The Chicago Cubs
The Philadelphia Flyers
The New Orleans Saints
The Miami Heat
Well, most of the time, I ignore the stupid fans. Sometimes, like today I will call out people for their bad form. They don’t get it either, but I make the effort for people I like who are being petty.
But, ultimately, most of the time I will know more about the teams you root for than you do. So, yes, I have a problem with negative energy. I pull for New York teams.
This is Gotham Nation after all, isn’t it?