Saturday, July 14, 2007

Favorite Team/Marriage Theory

Based on my limited understanding of the marriage system in India there are two kinds of marriages. First, there is the most common kind: the arranged marriage. This is where the marriage is "arranged" by the parents and the bride/groom have little to no say in who they are going to marry. Second, there is the less common kind: the love marriage. This is where the bridge and groom pick out each other. Most Americans should be familiar with the idea of a love marriage since that is by far the most common kind of marriage in America. In fact I am sure that most Americans are horrified by the idea of an arranged marriage. For more on the difference between love marriage and arranged marriage see below:

How does this relate to sports one might ask?

The reason I bring this up is because I feel like true sports fans treat their favorite teams with the same if not more loyalty than most Americans treat their spouse. It is not too much of a stretch to say that a sports fan "marries" their favorite team. Once a certain team is your favorite team then it is your favorite team for better and worse. It isn't a far reach to say that a fan's relationship with a team is a Sports Marriage.

Now there are the same two kinds (arranged and love) of Sports Marriages as there are in real marriages. Here is an example of both:
  • Arranged Marriage: A son grows up in Cleveland, Ohio with a father who is a huge Browns fan. The son receives Browns pacifiers, shirts, and posters since the day he is born. The son not surprisingly enough is a Browns fan.
  • Love Marriage: A son grows up in Bismark, North Dakota with a father who doesn't particularly care for sports. The son starts to become a basketball fan when (like most North Dakotans) he grows to 6ft 9 and becomes a good basketball player. He follows the Nba because of his new interest in basketball and falls in "love" with the way the Golden State Warriors play. He starts watching Warriors games and he even buys a Baron Davis jersey and has it shipped to North Dakota.
Now most fans don't even really care if there Sports Marriage is either an Arranged Marriage or a Love Marriage. All most fans care about is whether or not there team wins and the Sports Marriage is successful.

Now lets break down the Marriage Theory (3 of the 4 were provided by M) into 4 points that are commonly associated with a successful marriage:
  • Loyalty: A fan's loyalty with a team is probably the most important thing in judging the worth of a fan. A Fairweather Fan (someone who isn't a fan when the team is bad) and a Polygamist Fan (someone who likes multiple teams) are looked down upon on by the sports community. The thought is that once you choose a team (a spouse) you need to stick with that team for better and worse. Maybe it would be easier to be a fan of a younger, more fun team like the Phoenix Suns, but if that fan is already a fan of the New York Knicks then that person is a Knicks fan forever. A fan can admire another team, but there is a fine line where a fan knows not to cross or otherwise it is considered cheating.
  • Trust: A fan must trust his team to make the right move and do the right thing. This is imperative for the relationship to work out. For example my relationship with the Dolphins is not as good anymore after they drafted Ted Ginn Jr (a kick returner?!?) instead of Brady Quinn. However, if you trust your team then it makes it that much easier to be a fan.
  • Love: It seems obvious, but it is necessary for a fan to love their team. However, who hasn't been around fans who do nothing but sit around and complain about the inadequacies of their team? The thing is there really is no difference between complaining that your team is soft in the secondary and complaining that your wife is soft in her abs. It is necessary for a fan to feel a certain affection towards his or her team in order to make it easier being their fan.
  • Respect: A fan must respect their team in a manner that you give the team the benefit of the doubt. A good example would be when the Patriots selected Logan Mankins in the first round of the 2005 draft. No analyst had him going in the first round and even in his wikipedia page he was said to be considered a "reach." However, fresh off a Super Bowl victory over the Eagles, Patriots fans respected the decision and stuck by it. On the flipside, one could definitely argue that Atlanta Hawks fans no longer respect the opinion of their management team after the team passed over Chris Paul and Deron Williams to take Marvin Williams.
If you look at the above 4 points it makes sense that one's favorite team in a sport is comparable to a marriage. Now whether or not the marriage is successful or not then that is another question for another time. The fact of the matter is that is is clear that the average fan has a relationship with their favorite team(s) that is like a marriage. A Sports Marriage.

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