Sports Team Allegiances

Having an “allegiance” to a sports team is one of those concepts that people give some of the most unusual reasons as to why they have them. But what’s good reasoning and what’s bad reasoning for rooting for a specific team? Take mine for an example. What’s reasonable and what’s not?

– I’ve rooted for the Blazers ever since I heard the letters “NBA”. It’s mainly because I’m from Portland.
– I’ve rooted for all the Pittsburgh teams (namely the Steelers and Penguins, but not the Pirates for their awful management) since my family started out in western Pennsylvania after they fled from Vietnam right after the war. So Pennsylvania has a place in my heart (even though I’ve only been there once).
– I root for Arsenal FC because they were one of the first teams I watched play when I started following soccer and loved their style of play.
– I root for the Braves due to the fact that they’ve had a lot of talent that’s come from their farm system and that’s resulted in a lot of their success.

Note #1: Pretty much all these teams are dependent on young talent as a building block for success as of late.

Note #2: I didn’t list UW because it’s an unwritten code that you root for your alma mater (though I don’t like UW football for reasons I won’t discuss here.)

But of all the teams that I’ve listed, Blazers seems like the only logical call because I’m from there. Why root for Arsenal when I haven’t even set foot in England once? Or why not the Pirates since I root for the other teams that are in Pittsburgh? It seems like pretty awful reasoning to say that their management sucks so I won’t root or follow them. Seattle fans especially hate the fact that I root for the Steelers. So let’s get into what’s good reasoning and what’s bad reasoning:

Rules for having an allegiance to a team.

1. You must have an allegiance to a team if they’re from your hometown.

This is probably the most logical reasoning for why you’d ever root for a team. Imagine if you weren’t allowed to root for your hometown team. For Mariners fans, this would be an instant relief.

2. You don’t have allegiance for a team because their state is cool… or their uniforms look awesome… or they have a hot player… or some thing nowhere close to related to sports or your hometown.

I’ve heard this reason before. There should be no correlation between a state being cool and the reason why you root for that team. If I were to say “I’m rooting for the Lakers because California is cool”, that would be a travesty. Or rooting for them because Ron Artest is “sexy”. Or the Lakers’ uniform look cool, which they aren’t by the way. UW doesn’t wear yellow and purple. It’s gold and purple.

3. You can’t switch your team allegiance because of a bad streak…

So when I was rooting for the Blazers, they were doing extremely well and got to the Western Conference finals a few times around the turn of the century. However, after that, they started to suck. Blazers finishing in the bottom five almost became a regular thing. But does that mean I say, “I give up on your guys. I’m going to root for the Sonics or Lakers now”? No way. That is what we call fair-weather fans. And fair-weather fans are bad for sports teams (and unfortunately, there’s way too many of them). Now if they were to not bother to try to get the team to be better after say 15 years… Then you may have reason to switch (going back to reason #3).

4. If you have no team in that sport in your hometown, you have the freedom to choose any team to have an allegiance to.

If you’re in North Dakota, you obviously have to root for… Well, you don’t really have a hometown team to root for… in any sport. So you should be able to root for any team that you so wish. I couldn’t root for any pro football team while I lived in Portland because there wasn’t one here. And no, Seattle does not equal Portland. Else, there wouldn’t have been a NBA team in both Seattle and Portland. So I don’t have to root for the Seahawks. 😛

Though, I root for the Steelers and Penguins, I don’t root for the Pirates since (1) management sucks but also (2) I’m not constrained to them because technically Pittsburgh isn’t my hometown. Portland is (as I was born there). But because my family was originally from there when they came over, one could say I didn’t abide by the rules for the Pirates. It’s definitely debatable.

5. You can switch allegiances if your team moves away from your city.

In the case of Seattle Sonics fans, this definitely applies. When their team moved from Oklahoma City, those that were in Seattle were pretty upset. Do they have to root them while they’re in Oklahoma? Nope. It’s not fair for those fans to have to root for their team that moved away from them because they just got screwed over.

6. You can’t have allegiances to two teams in the same sport.

It’s like being a fan of the Lakers and the Celtics. Or rooting for the Blazers and Sonics (when the Sonics were in Seattle). Doesn’t make sense. You may say you have reason to root for two teams if they’re in the same city, but it’s still the same reasoning. Intercity/interregion rivals is all the more reason you can’t root for two teams in the same city/area. Make up your mind and choose one.

7. If you’re moving to a city with a team(s) and have an allegiance to one already, you must choose one. If you choose the new city’s team(s), you must declare to all the end of your allegiance to the former team(s). It’s suggested that you choose the new city, but not required.

This goes back to #7. You can’t have allegiances in two teams. This is also for your own safety. Imagine if you were a Red Sox fan and you move over to New York, you must choose one. You can’t root for both teams. You should probably root for the Yankees though if you care about your physical safety since diehard Yankee fans will probably kill you if you were at a Red Sox/Yankees game in NY and were wearing Red Sox gear.

But then what about me and Seattle teams? Well, before I came to Seattle, I already had my allegiances (Steelers, Blazers, Timbers, Penguins, Braves). I had to make the choice of changing all to Seattle teams or keeping what I had. Obviously, I kept the latter, especially with the Steelers and Braves.

There’s probably a bunch more but I can’t think of any others. But you get the idea. There’s a number of rules with regards to allegiance. but the basic idea is: choose a team and stick with it through good times and bad. It’s like marriage. You ride it through good times and bad. You don’t just abandon them because of that. There may be changes to the way they look or their persona, but you stick with it. The only time this isn’t like a marriage is when you move away. (Can’t exactly do that with a marriage… Well, you could, but you’ll look like a jerk).

Sometimes, it doesn’t always work out though, but you gotta stick through it. For example, being in Seattle, there’s the Sounders, which is an MLS team. However, in 2011, there will be a new MLS team in Portland means that I’m going to be rooting for them, as they’re from my hometown. Granted, the Sounders are successful right now, my allegiances before the Sounders came into the MLS were with the Timbers (remember that they were both in the USL before the MLS). So I have to stick through the Timbers’ shortcomings and growing pains in the MLS. But that’s how loyalty to your hometown teams should be. None of this fair-weather fan shenanigans.

So what other rules to sports team allegiance are there?

One thought on “Sports Team Allegiances”

  1. 1. Thou shalt have an allegiance to the team that drafts your hometown hero.

    2. If a marquee or favourite player is traded from your favourite team, however, you’re expected to hate the destination team…

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