Let me preface this by saying that not every team or fan base falls into this argument. However each city and each team in every sport is known for something in a sense. My question is whether or not these two things go hand-in-hand to a certain degree. First off, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. As an example, Pittsburgh is a tough old blue collar town. As much as we may dislike them, does that not describe the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Pittsburgh Penguins? (I suppose that the Pirates wouldn’t fall into that category though). The Steelers have always had tought teams composed of guys that “brought their lunch pails to work” everyday. So in that sense perhaps the team(s) take on the persona or moxie of the people. (Notice that I’m using the term fan base as opposed to community; with sports being much more national than in the past, your main fan base might not necessarily be isolated to the local area.)
On the other hand, take a look at the San Francisco 49ers. California is an extremely laid back kind of place. Over the past few seasons, the 49ers have almost played so relaxed that they didn’t seem to realize they were competing. Even when they were winning the Super Bowls they never seemed to play with the fear of God in their eyes. We all remember the story of Montana eyeing John Candy in the stands at the Super Bowl. The New York Yankees are another one; New Yorkers as we know can be fairly arrogant if they want to be, but they generally pack a pretty mean punch. The Yankees seemingly carry a quiet arrogance about them (which generally ticks the rest of us off), and they back it up on the field. Go up the road to Boston…they were lovable losers for so long, and suddenly they win a few world series’. If you say something bad about the Red Sox their fans almost seem to get militant in defending them. The team seems to play with a chip on their shoulder to the point that if you look at them wrong they’re ready to come out with their dukes up. New Orleans is a party town…the Saints didn’t really seem to stop celebrating their Super Bowl victory until the 2010 season kicked off.
Again, these attributes can be both good and bad. How can you go wrong by celebrating like the Saints? By doing so I think you run the risk of becoming the Boston Red Sox who seem to treat every home run like one might a world series win. (Yes Kevin Youkilis I’m talking to you who likes to tackle guys in the dugout to celebrate homers.) I suppose that what I’m saying is that even if you’ve never been there before, act like you have. To keep with the Boton motif, we all know that the fans there can be brutal in that they expect nothing less than success. How many times has Bill Belichek been (justifiably) criticized for running up the score on someone? The Red Sox seem to enjoy doing the same thing when they get a lead. I agree with Belichek in that it’s not his job to stop his offense, but there’s a right way to win and a wrong way. The same could be said to the Steelers, who didn’t seem to want to take out their starters with a 30+ point lead in the fourth quarter.
Here’s a sensitive one for me personally: the Washington Redskins. I’ve been a Skins fan my entire life, an I’m a season ticket holder. But I do see some less-than-desirable qualities in my fellow fans. While the Redskins are noted for having loyal fans, I routinely see people bringing their friends to games who happen to root for the team the Redskins are playing that day. I also routinely hear “down in front!” when you so much as get up to get a soda during the game. Unfortunately many people see Redskin games as entertainment rather than as NFL games I suppose. Furthermore, I’ve had people at games tell me that the fans shouldn’t make noise when the other team’s on offense because not only is it unsportsmanlike, but it makes it all the more sweeter for that other team if they win. Um…excuse me?! (I’ve also seen fans buy beer for opposing fans because for some reason if you come all the way from wherever to see your team play on the road you deserve a free beer.) Two weeks ago the Skins had a 17 point lead on the Houston Texans in the 4th quarter…and lost. Granted this sort of contradicts what I said about Boston fans (with regard to running up the score), but while you don’t need to rub salt in the wound you don’t want to totally take your foot off the gas either. However if there are fans that act as I just described, couldn’t you argue that the Redskins take on that persona?
So do Baltimore’s teams take on the persona of the fan base? I would say that similar to the Steelers, the Ravens tap into that blue collar nature of the city (although Baltimore is a much more afluent place than Pittsburgh). Baltimore also likes to party…Orioles Magic anyone? All of these arguments are matters of opinion, however I think it’s an interesting concept. As I said, this isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Take it or leave it.