Last year, in response to a post on Will Leach’s newsletter, I created my list of the sports teams I root for–in the order of my fan intensity. This is getting easier to do as I grow older, as I have become that kind of fan I loathed as a kid. The kind of fan that doesn’t watch every game. The kind of fan that just checks the scores and makes a mental note of how the team is doing.
The internet makes this quasi-fandom very easy: game recaps are highlighted on Facebook and Twitter. You can be totally informed about your team’s performance almost instantaneously.
So, to update . . . my sports allegiances (in order) are as follows:
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Syracuse U. basketball
These two teams dominate my sports world. They are truly the only two teams whose success really matters to me. I watch their games, read about results and ponder rosters, game strategy and upcoming games. Both are also incredibly successful and most often in contention for playoff spots and championships. Both teams are also intimately tied to memories of my father, the person who introduced me to sports and whose passing made my fandom of these teams more poignant.
My dad took me to games at Fenway Park when we visited my grandmother during summer vacations at her home on Cape Cod. I remember the upstart Sox getting to the 1967 World Series, convinced that buying their yearbook earlier in the summer at a small Cape grocery led to their success. I grew up a Red Sox fan in the middle of Yankee country–teased and taunted by my classmates. I earned my residency in Red Sox Nation.
I pestered my dad for a couple of years to get season tickets to basketball games at the old Manley Field House–he didn’t really like basketball, he was a football, baseball and hockey fan. But I finally wore him down. And when S.U. basketball lost the 1987 NCAA basketball tournament on a last second shot by Indiana, it was my father who grabbed several glasses off the table and hurled them into the fireplace, shattered glass flying everywhere!
3. Syracuse U. lacrosse
4. Syracuse U. football
The hometown team. I also have memories of watching these games with my dad. I saw lacrosse and football with him way back in the day–when lacrosse was played on a small field with no stands next to the pre-renovation Manley Field House and football was in the ancient outdoor Archibald Stadium.
My parents, proud S.U. alums, had season football tickets–but I only got to go when it was bad weather and my mom didn’t want to freeze! They brought a handsaw to the final game at Archbold and I now have possession of the wooden seats they sat on at the games.
5. U. Of Pennsylvania basketball
6. U. of Pennsylvania football
I am the proud alum here. My freshman year (78-79) Penn went to the NCAA Final Four and I piled into a beat up Impala with four other friends and we drove for 42 straight hours to Salt Lake City for the games. We lost by 34 points in the semi-finals to Michigan State and since they still had the consolation games we played Depaul and lost by 3 points. I did get to see the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird championship though. Home games in the Palestra, one of America’s great arenas, were a blast. Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!
7. New York Knicks
I was a little kid, and I idolized Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The classic Knicks teams of that era won the NBA Finals in 1970 and 1973. They came within a last second John Starks shot (blocked by Hakeem Olajuwon) in Game 6 of the 1994 of winning another. It’s been a long drought–filled with terrible owners, worse general managers and sometimes befuddled coaches. But hope springs eternal and the new wind of change is encouraging.
8. U. of South Carolina football
I spent about a nanosecond at law school in Columbia, S.C. in 1983–but long enough to soak up an admiration for the at times struggling football team. I was in school and at the game when the new East upper deck seats of Williams Brice stadium were bouncing along with the fans getting down to the song “Louie Louie” being played during a time out. That led to the famous quote by Coach Joe Morrison (rest in peace) “If it ain’t swayin’. we ain’t playin'” U.S.C. has moved into the SEC and has had some success in the past decade. (oh, I learned to hate Clemson too! Serves me well now that S.U. football [see #4 above] plays in the A.C.C.)
9. Boston Bruins
I loved the old Bobby Orr teams (and my grandma once gave me a black Bruins logo notebook for Christmas) but that’s about the extent of my fandom. But if they get into the Stanley Cup playoffs–I startt to again pay attention. In fact, I will sort of root for 5 of the original 6 franchises of the NHL (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and New York.) As long as any of them beat the Montreal Canadiens. My least favorite teams of all time really only numbers three: N. Y. Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and the Canadiens.
10. N.Y. Giants
The Giants have fallen to the bottom rungs of my fandom list for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve watched them win the Super Bowl four times–once in each of the past four decades. There is no urgency left in my fandom. Secondly, because of my concern over the NFL’s shoddy treatment of past and current players regarding traumatic brain injuriesand theleague owners’ blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick because he protests police shootings of unarmed African Americans rankles me as well. So now, the only NFL I watch is the HBO series Hard Knocks, the NFL Films treatment of one team during training camp. If the Giants make the Super Bowl I will probably watch–but otherwise I will not waste my time.