When you’re a sports writer, you’re supposed to avoid choosing sides. I only covered high school, though, and thereby had secret favorites. Mainly that was due to coaches who gave me good quotes and cooperated whenever there was a story to write. It’s easy to like a good story line.
Choosing your pro teams is a sight more mystic and complicated. Sometimes I envy people who grew up in Boston or Atlanta, where they have a handful of teams built in to root for. Living in a non-pro team city does have its perks. You’ve got an open field. You can put as much (or as little) thought into it as you want. Some people opt to support the nearest team, which is all fine and good…except when you consider that the New Orleans Saints were the teams nearest to Mobile when I was growing up. That’s just asking to wear a brown bag on your head.
The first team I ever cheered for was the Atlanta Braves. I know, sounds totally bandwagon, and thus in violation of The Sports Guy’s 20 Rules for Being a Sports Fan. But when you throw in the fact that I have watched the Braves since the Dale Murphy Days (capitalized because Dale was the only good thing about that team), it gives legitamacy to my sports fan-dom. I still like them, because win or lose, they do a hell of a job getting homegrown talent, most recently Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann. By the way, if you don’t read Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy, you need to. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll go crosseyed trying to figure out his logic.
The other three teams I support came from my move to Nashville. The Titans were a given, considering their underdog status at the time. They’ve since fizzled and are trying to rebuild off of an atrociously bad decision to stack the cap a couple of years ago in order to get a ring before Steve McNair’s knees ground down to a pile of white dust. But I’ll keep supporting them, no matter what. Although I am waiting for the news that Pacman Jones has knocked over a convenience store.
I have never been a hockey follower, but after I heard owner Craig Leipold talk about how he wanted to build up the Nashville Predators over a period of time, I was impressed. Even before the new NHL, Leipold said he refused to go out and get big stars just to be super competitive right away. Instead, he opted to build talent from within and stay within a modest budget. Then after the strike, when the Preds finally had the money and opportunity to go snag a big fish, they didn’t mamby pamby around, they got the biggest fish they could find in Paul Kariya. Leipold and Co. pushed the family atmosphere of Nashville and the chance to be the biggest star on a little team. Bingo.
My NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies, was adopted after my buddy Matty took me to a game. Matty is a video guy for the Grizz, and his enthusiasm had me convinced. My English Premier League team (which I picked while living in England) also came from a friend. I watched some Liverpool games with my Brit friend Hannah, and I was sold.
Now I’m faced with a bit of a dilemna. I’m moving to the West Coast. I’m thinking about picking up another baseball team to go along with the Braves. I know, sacrilege, but I think a lot of West Coast teams get screwed because no one can stay up that late to watch their games. Plus, I’m within three hours of Los Angeles. I’ve always liked the Dodgers, but they are in the National League. Maybe the Angels. I know, it’s in violation of the Fan Code mentioned above, but I’ve always been one to break the rules.