Last July, in the afterglow of the Men’s World Cup, I posted here that I was picking an English Premier League team to follow for the year. At the time, I chose Newcastle, the Oakland Raiders of the EPL.
What I did not take into consideration in trying to choose a team that way is the fact that love cannot be scripted. You cannot set out to fall in love with something, you just do… often in spite of yourself. Try as I might, I just did not “fall in love” with Newcastle in the way that I once fell in love with Daryle Lamonica and Oakland Raiders or the 1972 Oakland A’s.
A large part of this is age, I know. No adult loves a team as unconditionally as a pre-pubescent boy or girl loves their teams. But over the years I have fallen in love with many teams: 1984 Cubs, Jordan’s Bulls, 1987 & 1991 Twins, 1989 Minnesota Gophers Men’s Basketball Team, the 2003 & 2004 Gopher Women’s Basketball Team,….
And now as I lay out the teams I have loved best and most fervently I see the obvious pattern: I have always loved winning teams.
I grew up in a part of the world that did not have an obvious “local” team to root for. The closest MLB, NBA, and NFL teams were far away. It gave me the freedom to “pick” my teams. And winning teams were broadcast and written about much more often than losing ones. It was easier to follow the Orioles and A’s in the late 1960s and early 1970s then it was to follow the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox. And it was a lot more fun.
Following winners becomes a habit it seems. When the local teams do well here in the North Country, I follow them closely. When they do not, I turn my attention to other teams with amazing ease. Let’s face it, when the going gets tough for this sports fan… I just move on.
So to those of you who stick with your team through thick and thin, I say: “I admire you.” To those who are more like me I say, “While rooting for losers probably builds character, it is certainly more fun to root for winners…. AND Go Team USA!”