Fandom is transitory. That runs counter to the previously conceived and commercially popularized model of the “superfan” that pervades the sports ecosystem. Most fans’ attachment to their teams is tenuous, although you won’t often hear about that as it doesn’t make for a good Coors Light commercial.
This is especially today, when every major sports league broadcasts all games live over the Internet or satellite dish. Discerning fans can pick and choose games across the country. DVR and on-demand viewing mitigate time-zone difficulties that led to the so-called “east-coast bias.”
What does all that mean? Let’s say, hypothetically, your favorite teams was ripped by its roots and transported to a cultural wasteland. It means you get to pick a new one.
According to polling by Stephanus Tekle of the sports marketing agency Sport+Markt, cited in the book Soccernomics (which I just read), fans are migratory creatures. In China and elsewhere, a colleague supported Tekle’s data with several pieces of anecdotal evidence showing fans supporting a handful of rival teams at the same time. To paraphrase, the question is no longer which team do you support, but rather which teams.
Anyways, back to the point of the post. After a survey of the teams playing in the NBA right now, I have decided to pledge my allegiance to the Atlanta Hawks. This means almost nothing to the Hawks, as there is only a miniscule chance that I would ever purchase Hawks merchandise or attend a game. I probably won’t ever shell out any money to have access to their games, either.
However, the Hawks play the most exciting style of basketball in the league right now. They’re not the best team in the league, but they have athletic players at every position, a solid point guard, and fantasy staple J-Smoove. Two players are local guys (Jamal Crawford and Marvin Williams). They are underdogs – a quality I prefer.
Again, this means nothing for the Hawks. All it means is that I check their box score first. And I may change loyalties again. But I’ll be rooting for them in the playoffs.
In the end, the NBA is too fun not to have a team, even if it’s run by a corrupt dictator who likes making examples out of cities who don’t write him a blank check from the city’s tax fund.
I’m not sure this concept will fly with the co-authors of this blog, who were born Husky fans, are Husky season-ticket holders, and will hold those season tickets until they are shown with their wives after the first quarter of a Husky home game in 2062. They believe you only get one team per sport, and you’re stuck with them.
I think if you’re bitten by the sports bug early, then there’s really no chance to escape it. The co-authors tie Husky games up with other solid memories of their childhood. My only standout Husky memory (I grew up in Cougar country and my parents were both Zags) was listening to the Apple Cup at my friend Brendan’s house on a cold, cold Saturday on a radio in his living room with his dog Ellie. (If I remember, we played Nerf basketball during the commercial breaks.) But I was a Coug fan growing up.
Along those lines, I still follow some of the other teams that caught my heart as a youth – the Philadelphia Eagles and to a lesser extent, Liverpool (that happened in my 20s, but I was new to the EPL so one could say I was in my youth as an English soccer fan).
But the NBA presents a different problem. For those of us that grew up Sonics fans (which is just about every male who was an adolescent during the Kemp-Payton years), there’s a choice to make. We get to flex our rights as consumers in a free market to support the team that most closely aligns with our ideals. Or boycott the league entirely.
Of course nobody could stomach following the Thunder after what happened, but there are still 29 other teams to choose from. Of these, I’m taking the Hawks.