Origins of teams you cheer for as kids, adults
October 21, 2011
What makes some of us cheer for the Minnesota Vikings, some of us cheer for the Green Bay Packers, and some of us cheer for the Chicago Bears? The obvious answer is where we grow up geographically. But is that the only reason? Obviously it isn’t. For example, I grew up just outside of Milwaukee and while being a Brewers fan, which made Sunday tough, I am also a diehard Indianapolis Colts fan, which made Sunday even tougher. A big reason for how we pick which teams to root for is our upbringing. My dad grew up a Colts fan, which slowly trickled down to me as well.
A broader example are the Chicago Cubs fans who overpopulate Wisconsin, especially in the Milwaukee area. However, it makes sense that there are so many Cubs fans. Until 1970, baseball fans in Milwaukee only had the Cubs or the White Sox to cheer for. This again creates the trickle down effect, which explains the amount of Cubs fans in southeastern Wisconsin. The trickle down effect, conversely, is responsible for the hatred of teams as well. The closest example to that is right over in Minnesota, as far as I know, with the departure of the North Stars to Dallas. An even bigger example is the hatred which the people in Baltimore have for the Colts. After the Colts unceremoniously left the city, not a soul in Baltimore remained a Colts fan. To this day, so I’m told, fans in Baltimore who weren’t even alive in 1983 hate the Colts because of the fact that their parents did.
There is one more factor in how we choose our teams as kids, although this one seems to have trouble sticking later in life. As kids we tend to lean towards the teams that we see winning. Let’s face it, as kids we were all bandwagon fans. When I was a kid just getting interested in sports my favorite teams consisted of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Red Wings, Charlotte Hornets, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. An odd assortment of teams, I know, yet there is a reason for most of them. The first time I remember watching football was the 1996 Nflplayoffs. In these playoffs the fifth seeded Jaguars knocked off both the Buffalo Bills and the top seeded Denver Broncos. As a 5-year-old kid, I thought the Jaguars were unbeatable so they naturally became my favorite team. I actually rooted for them until about eighth grade until I saw the light. I have never watched much hockey, but when I did, as a kid, the Detroit Red Wings won two consecutive titles, which made them my favorite team in a sport I didn’t care about. My rooting interest in the Diamondbacks stems from a simple hatred towards the Yankees. I, like most people, grew up hating the Yankees, which made any team playing them my favorite. After the 2001 World Series the Diamondbacks were far and away my favorite team for dethroning the evil empire. Then there was my rooting interest in the Charlotte Hornets. That is something I simply can’t explain.
It is worth noting that, now that I have matured, I have fallen for all the simple reasons we root for certain teams. My dad is a Colts fan and now I am too. I live in Milwaukee and the Brewers are my team. I don’t care too much about the NBA, but if I had to pick a team it would, unfortunately, be the Milwaukee Bucks. As for hockey, well honestly, no one in eastern Wisconsin cares about hockey. If they do, the Blackhawks are their team. I don’t have a favorite hockey team. I assume most of you cheer for your geographical favorite, but I hope this article inspires you to look back and remember when you were just a little bandwagon hopper too.
Benjamin Lamers is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during fall semester 2013.