For one thing, you don’t have a team to root for there isn’t much reason to watch or care. Also, the aspect of rooting for a team, through winning and losing, is fun. You share both the comeback wins and heartbreaking losses with friends and family, you discuss, and it is fun. It is fun to root for a team, largely illogically. It is fun to cheer and jeer in the stands. And the losing makes the winning that much sweeter. Baseball gives people something to do, something to talk about, and something to care about.
“what makes the Braves’ laundry so compelling that I should forego the pleasure of watching Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley and Stephen Strasburg?”
Since when does being a fan of a team mean you can’t enjoy watching players on another team?
I don’t really understand what your point is in this piece. You titled it “Liberating Liberated Fandom” yet you don’t liberate anyone. You continually ask why we can’t or shouldn’t stop rooting for teams and just enjoy players, but you never present an argument as to why we should do that. The closest reason I can find that you give is that rooting for a team will sometimes lead to unpleasantness.
Yes, you can make the analogy that rooting for a team is like rooting for laundry, and that therefore it’s illogical, but isn’t that kind of the point? We’re human, not robots. Just because we have and use logic does not mean that being completely logical at all times is mentally healthy for us. Emotions are important, yes, even the bad ones. There’s a cathartic release when we become emotionally attached to a team as it struggles, and it makes the joy of their success that much stronger. Why is this bad to you?
My favorite team is the San Francisco Giants, my favorite player of all time is Craig Biggio. I didn’t have to stop rooting for the Giants to enjoy watching the way the he played the game and skills he brought out there every day. Why do you feel that I would need to? Why do you feel people should stop rooting for last place teams? Why do you feel we should abandon what we like simply because it doesn’t always meet our expectations?
Comment by Daryl Boston — August 3, 2010 @ 1:20 pm
The point with the Braves example was that Braves fans could be dismissive of players from divisional rivals – just like as a Giants fan, you may not think that Clayton Kershaw or Matt Kemp are anything special.
And I’d say it’s a rare fan who truly enjoys watching a bad team play ball. In the recent past, Posnanski did the article that inspired this post, and Bill Simmons railed against the Red Sox for being boring. Now, Simmons is kind of an idiot for that column, but what I’d tell him is that if he finds it so displeasing to watch the Red Sox, well, then, don’t.
I guess I just don’t get the feeling where suffering through bad times as a fan of a team makes the payoff of a championship any better. Intersport example: I wasn’t a Blackhawks fan when all their home games were blacked out; I couldn’t be a fan of a team that I couldn’t watch. But just because I – and thousands of other Chicagoans – jumped on the bandwagon between 2008 and 2010, I didn’t enjoy the Stanley Cup any less; champagne was still consumed and parades were still attended.
Ultimately I suppose I just find it more…fun to watch games from all over the league than to devote myself to Braves games. I’m not saying fandom has no place in the game; it is, on occasion, nice to have a team to ground yourself to. But I think that self-limitation to that team because of birth or something is to do a disservice to all the other great baseball being played – something that divisional rivalries and such do tend to dissuade.
I agree that divisional rivalries do tend to dissuade the enjoyment of players from those teams (although really, Matt Kemp isn’t anything special, unless by “special” you mean a drama queen and a timer in the field, I can admit Kershaw is), but is missing out on the extra hype and enjoyment of participating in a divisional rivalry worth expanding your player pool from where you can derive enjoyment from 725 to 750?
Great post, and it echos my own sentiment exactly. There’s teams I follow more than others. (Philadelphia and Atlanta since my youth. Atlanta due to TBS, much like yourself. Now I just happen to live in the area.) However, I approach sports as an objective fan and enjoy watching good players play as well as watch good games unfold.
If the Royals and Pirates are playing a great game, I want to watch it. If Stephen Strasburg is pitching, I want to watch it. If Albert Pujols is up, I want to see the outcome. If given the choice between the Braves in a blowout and a 1-1 game in the 11th, I’m watching the 1-1 game, no matter who the opponents are.
With Free Agency, it’s very rare for a player to spend their whole career with a single team, so I can’t see going from rooting for a person to hating him just because the shirt he wears.
With Fantasy sports and the increased viewing opportunities available for all sports, I think you’ll see more sports fans progress to following players versus teams. Personally I think it’s more enjoyable that way.
I’m 32 years old, and I’m a Reds fan. The past decade, it hasn’t been much fun to be a Reds fan. But despite living abroad, and being witness to some very good teams in Arizona, I couldn’t change over–even when my disgust with the team’s management, etc, hit its maximum.
I may have wanted to change teams, or just disavow fandom altogether like you advocate. But I couldn’t. I think, in the end, it’s part of my personal identity to be a Reds fan. The Reds are home. They’re family. No matter they frustrate me, act stupidly, or otherwise make a mess of things, I think they’ll always be my time.
This year is the first time in my adult life (post-undergrad) that they’ve been worth following. Hopefully the start of a new trend. It’s a lot more fun this way.
I disagree completely but I’m a Yankee fan. I say without hesitation that my favorite Yankee team if all time is the ’96 team. I still get emotional watching that win. I know the reason is that it’s the first championship i have memories of. I was alive in the 79s but too young. I remember 1981 and it hurt. Bad. I waited 16 solid years of baseball cincsiousness for a title, and it was so damn sweet!
On the flip side the pain of 2001 still lingers. Feeling like another title is in the bag and watching it disappear with Mo in the mound was a real shock to the system.
Believe me I know I won the lottery in ending up a Yankee fan, and I could see a fan of KC saying, “I give up!”. But true fandom is like breathing. If the right circumstances occur when you’re little to lock in your love of a team, there’s ni way to break that bond. Neyer, posnanski l, etc. had their formative year with George Brett. Totally understandable that they are stuck to the Royals like glue.