Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fans: Born or Bred?

It is the off-season for Penn State football, recruiting notwithstanding.  And the Steelers don't play until tomorrow night.  I am bored.  So I thought perhaps I would blog to pass the time, but what pray tell should I blog about?

Penn State wrestling is hot right now, but to be brutally honest, I simply cannot get into that sport.

The men's basketball team is not as bad as usual--winning a couple games against ranked Big Ten opponents, and coming up just points short of upsetting OSU and Purdue.  But alas, basketball is a sport I cannot sink my teeth into, at least not without double dribbling all over my self.

So a friend of mine from high school sent me a link to his blog today, imploring me to read it.  It was titled Steelers Fans, My Family and Friends.  I can sink my teeth into that.

Basically, he attempts to explain that while he doesn't loathe the Steelers, he isn't a die hard fan.  He struggles to find an explanation to such a simple and easy question as, Are you a Steeler Fan?
This dilemma has nothing to do with whether or not I will be rooting for the Steelers. It has to do with … ‘The Question’! What is the question? It goes something like this, “Ready for the Steelers’ game, George?” OR the ‘other question’, which is worse … “So, are you a Steelers’ fan?”

When answering the first question, I can (and at times do) take the easy way out by responding with something to the effect of, “Sure, always ready for football!!!” And yet, there are times when for whatever reason I feel that I must elaborate and add, “But, I am not a diehard Steelers’ fan.” It is during these times that I see some of the dirtiest, confused looks on people’s faces. What can be worse are the situations when I must answer the second question. I will share my polite answer, but you must know that it does not always get me very far. When asked if I am a “Steelers’ fan”, I most often choose to respond with, “Not the way most people around here are. But I respect the team, everything that they have accomplished as a franchise, the Rooney family, and they way they seem to have done it with as much class as possible in an ever changing societal atmosphere.” As you might imagine, that answer often gets me out of further explanation.
To be perfectly honest, had you asked me before I read this blog if my friend was a Steeler fan or not, I would have said most certainly he was.  Why wouldn't he be?  But I am surprised.  Just like when I found out my neighbor was a Pitt fan.  Honestly, they look so normal sometimes it can be very deceiving.

My friend goes on . . .
“I am a HUGE NFL fan, but I just don’t have a favorite team. I tend to root for teams who have players or coaches whom I like and enjoy watching.” Most of the time, that type of answer will do it, especially if I immediately turn and walk away. It is simply not a very satisfying ending for me.
I can live with an answer like that.  I don't understand it, but I can live with it.  This is a very common fan type as I will discuss below.  But then he drops this bombshell:
The true response is that I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, bleeding silver and blue all over the place, crying my eyes out at 14 years old IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE when they lost yet another Super Bowl to the ‘Stupid Steelers’.
OMG.  This is akin to finding out your first grade teacher was really a satanist.  You suspected it back then, but would never have believed it years later when she was caught sacrificing animals on an altar in her livingroom, even if it had been posted on Youtube with several million hits.  This is simply shocking. 

Just in case my first grade teacher is still alive and has taken time from her satanic rituals to read this blog, let me just say I made all that up.  But it would be shocking, wouldn't it?

My friend and I grew up in Altoona, Pa., the very heart of Steeler country, (and Penn State for that matter!)  In the 1970's, during our young formative years, the Steelers were the dynasty in the NFL.  Dallas was the Evil Empire, although the Raiders were worse, by virtue of having to face them in the play-offs so often.

So how is that a normal healthy boy in central Pennsyltucky grows up to be a Dallas Cowboys fan?  How can you not like Art Rooney, Chuck Noll, Terry Bradshaw and the Steel Curtain???  It's obviously not something in the water.  And this is not an isolated finding.

People who have never gone to Notre Dame, are not Irish, Catholic, or Irish-Catholic, and live nowhere near Indiana nor have ever been in Indiana root for Notre Dame.  People who can't even spell Notre Dame, root for that school.  These people also shop at Walmart at 3 am, but the significance of this information deserves more study than I can devote here in this blog.

Is it genetic?  Was his dad a Cowboy's fan?  Is there a gene with the lone star embedded on it?  I would like to believe that there is some explanation beyond just free rational choice to explain such a poor choice.  After all, if we can blame drug addiction as a medical disease and exonerate the individual of all personal responsibility, can we not do so for decisions like these???

But alas, I fear some of this may just be youthful rebellion.  I have a friend, who was once a cheerleader for Penn State, whose son now wears Notre Dame shirts as if that is a perfectly acceptable thing to do in public.  Another friend, who had seats right behind the Penn State bench (and lost them due to relocation for disability seating) has a son who wears . . .please forgive me God . . . an Ohio State shirt.  I KNOW!  I strongly suspect he does it just to irk me, but his parents don't know how to handle it either.

My own son, flesh of my loins, is a Flyers fan.  We are (Penn State!) Penguins fans.  This just dumbfounds me (and embarrasses me to no end in public.)  I don't know how to handle the situation either.  I do blame this on genetics, though, as my wife's family is from Quakertown and they are all Flyers and Eagles fans down there.

Now we are talking real fans here.  I am not talking about fans who "claim" to follow and support a team, but then allow life to go on normally after "their" team loses.  How can that be?  If you are a properly and emotionally invested fan, you simply can't shrug and say, "better luck next time." 


Would we be here today if God had lost to chaos and the earth was never created?

Who lost to Polk in the presidential election?  If you know, big deal.  You are probably a history teacher, an idiot savant, or a seriously deranged intellectual.  Or you just Googled it, cheater.  Normal people don't know that!  Heck, normal people might not even know Polk was a president--I don't know, somehere back in the 1600's--but I know he must have won.  And no one cares about the LOSER except the LOSER.  In the case of Polk, we barely even give a hoot about the winner.

What in the bloody hell was I talking about before I digressed?



They are a nice alternative to air conditioning on a hot summer day.  Thank you for your participation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Penn State fans shopping at 3am at Walmart would be a step up. Go Irish!