Sports fans support individual players instead of professional teams
March 23, 2012
When the Milwaukee Brewers began Spring Training it was with great excitement that Ryan Braun would be able to play. In the Brewers first Spring Training game Braun failed to impress and didn’t register a hit. That, however, is not the point. See, the game was against the San Fransisco Giants. What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Well, obviously when Braun was up to bat the Brewers fans cheered him, but the Giants fans booed Braun. Obviously, this is in no small part to the fact that Braun tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) but managed to win his appeal before Spring Training began. The interesting point is that Braun was booed by Giants fans who, only a few years ago, were more than happy to cheer on Barry Bonds, who I think we all know was on steroids.
Sports fans are hypocrites. There is really no way around it. It all depends what team you are cheering for. The example with Braun makes that clear. Giants fans were willing to look past what Bonds had allegedly done, but were unwilling to do so when it came to Braun. In the same way, I distinctly remember Brewers fans booing Bonds during his home run chase and, obviously, cheering Braun when he returned for Spring Training this year.
Fan hypocrisy is also relevant in football. For years Brett Favre had dominated the Minnesota Vikings, making it almost impossible for the Purple People Eaters to have any success in the division. Vikings fans were not all too fond of Favre. However, when Favre signed with the Vikings he instantly became a Minnesota sensation. At the same time, he was also vilified by the Packers fan base. Amazing how quickly fans’ views can change.
A more recent example comes in the form of new Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. For 14 years Manning, outside of Indianapolis, was labeled as a choker and someone who could not win when it really counted. However, the second he was released by the Indianapolis Colts, 12 different teams contacted Manning about his services. Fans of teams were a buzz hoping they could get the legendary quarterback to come to their team. Suddenly, someone who couldn’t win when it counted turned into a player who could win a Super Bowl with a better team.
Manning and Favre open a whole different can of worms as well. Player fans. These are “fans” who cheer for a certain team, mostly the local team, then switch when their favorite player switches. For Manning this is less of an issue because the Colts and Broncos have no real interaction.
However, with Favre going to the Vikings there were major problems. I remember reading a news story about a life-long Packers fan, from Ashwaubenon, Wis., who bought season tickets for the Vikings when Favre signed. Really? In the world of sports that isn’t OK. You do not cheer for a rival team because of one player. A real fan sees that player as the enemy.
Regardless, fans never see anything in the same way. I’ll admit that I hated Randy Moss as a member of both the Vikings and the New England Patriots. However, when the rumor surfaced last summer that he might be coming to the Colts, obviously he didn’t, I was all for Moss coming to town. In the end it all comes down to wanting our team to win. And most of the time we want to see it done regardless of what players are leading the way.
Benjamin Lamers is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during fall semester 2013.