Why We Root For the Teams We Root For
Here's an essay I wrote for English just now, if any one is interested.
Psychology of a Fan
Sports are a big deal. When one opens up nearly any newspaper, they will see a business section (because people love money), a news section (because people love to be informed), and a comics section (because people love to laugh). And, finally, one will see a sports section because sports are an integral part of culture. People, both in America and around the world, love sports, and I am no exception by any means. Where two parties are engaged in athletic competition against one another, I will be interested; however, though I hate to admit it, perhaps I don’t appreciate sports. I say this because, when I sit down to watch a sporting event, I have to be rooting for one of the teams or competitors in order to stay interested. If it is a matchup of two great teams, but I do not care about either of them, then I will most likely change the channel due to lack of interest, rather than watch and simply appreciate a well-played game. But, most of the time, I do choose a team or participant to root for, so that I can become emotionally involved in the outcome of the match. Be it football, futból, tennis, or ping-pong, I will most likely latch onto one of the competitors and root passionately for them to be victorious. But why do I, and other sports fans, choose to root for the teams we root for? Is it because of a subconscious choice based on uniform color that dates back to early childhood, or is because of several more complex reasons?
Of course, my primary rooting interests are inherited from my father, who first taught me to love sports. These are the local teams, the Colts, the Pacers, and Purdue, and, in a game where a player or team with an Indiana connection is involved, I will usually support them. Across the nation, and the world, rooting for the “local boys” produces the most fervent of passions among sports fans. The home team represents the city, state, and region that it hails from, and its victories are a positive reflection on its city. It’s no wonder that the nationalistic pride that accompanies the Olympics usually surpasses fervor for any privately-owned professional team. Some teams even seem to adopt the personality of their city. The New York Yankees are thought to be brash, cocky, and larger-than-life. The Pittsburgh Steelers are thought of as “blue-collar”, always playing with a chip on their shoulder. And the Indianapolis Colts, particularly under the leadership of soft-spoken coach Tony Dungy, have a reputation for being a modest group of hard-working, bible-reading, “nice guys” who embody Midwestern values.
But beyond the normal passion for the home-town teams, there are several reasons why I may choose to root for a particular team in a particular game. Every sports fan wants to be entertained, and so a fan will often get behind the most exciting team on the field. A fan may root for a team simply because an exciting player is the star or perhaps the team as a whole has an up-tempo, flamboyant style of play. Because of this, it’s always easy to root for a powerhouse; however, it’s also popular to root against a powerhouse, as well. For example, my favorite baseball team (baseball being, in my opinion, an utterly boring sport that barely appeals to me) used to be the New York Yankees. But today, I can honestly say that my favorite team is whoever is playing the Boston Red Sox, the arch-rivals of the Yankees. My hatred for the Red Sox, though it may seem irrational, has grown and surpassed my love for any other team. In fact, many of the most passionate displays of rooting are based on hatred. In last year’s NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks’ fan base grew exponentially larger, not because they were a particularly lovable team, but because their opponent, the Miami Heat, is one of the most despised franchises in all of sports. Heat star Lebron James is the cause of much of this hatred because he is widely perceived to be an overpaid egomaniac who isn’t dedicated enough to lead his team to a title. But perhaps the biggest reason for anti-Lebron sentiment is the fact that the eight-time All-Star is the best. Throughout human competition, everybody loves to hate the #1.
But, when you think about it, the need to cheer on a competitor is not limited to sports. Take this fictitious example: two guys are watching the closing rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN after getting suckered in with hopes of catching a baseball or basketball game on the TV network that describes itself as “The Worldwide Leader in Sports.” (Is spelling a sport? That’s a question for another day.) The first guy announces his allegiance to “the red-haired kid with the glasses,” prompting the second guy to choose his own “horse in the race.” Though he was also pulling for the bespectacled redhead initially, it’s never any fun rooting for the same team as your buddy. So Man #2 decides to cheer on “the skinny Indian kid.” Soon, two testosterone-filled, middle-aged sports fans are on the edge of their seats, watching their personal champions spell. Finally, one man’s chosen speller misses a word (“Come on, Rishi, how could you forget the silent ‘P’?!”), and the other man’s chosen speller is victorious. After the two men experience irst-hand “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” they look at each other and realize how intensely they had been drawn into a spelling bee. A spelling bee, for gosh sakes! “Better not let the gang at the sports bar hear about this,” they think. And I believe that this scenario is entirely realistic because I’ve been there. I’ve watched the spelling bee, the putt-putt tournament, the pee-wee basketball game, the eating competition, the bake-off, and the Price is Right. And nearly every time, rather than staying impartial, I’ve found myself rooting for someone, for whatever reason. And this sudden partiality always gives the competition a new meaning and importance, and I won’t change the channel or leave the room until I know the fate of my new-found champion.
The NCAA Tournament, or “March Madness” has undoubtedly become one of the most popular sporting events in the United States. The month-long college basketball extravaganza rivals even the Super Bowl in its popularity. Based off of television viewership (Numbers Game), NCAA basketball generally lags behind the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, and college football in popularity; for it to suddenly gain such a massive following in the postseason, there must be something about its method of selecting a champion that appeals to the masses. Sure, it has a single-elimination format that makes every game do-or-die. But the NFL has the same format and its climax is its championship, the Super Bowl. It seems to me that, with the NCAA Tournament, the climax for most people is not the championship, but the first round, where 32 games are played in two days. It is this hectic series of upsets and thrills that earns the tournament the title of “March Madness”. In my opinion, the NCAA tournament is so popular because of the brackets that are filled out by people across the nation. Nearly 6 million brackets were submitted via ESPN.com last year (ESPN Brackets), many of which belonged to people who had never even seen most of the teams play. With a bracket, every game becomes important. A casual college basketball fan will be on the edge of his seat watching Wichita State play Virginia Commonwealth. With every correct pick, that person is one step closer to winning immense satisfaction and bragging rights, as well as the occasional cash prize. Fantasy football creates the same phenomenon. Before its creation, the football fan generally only cared about his favorite team, but now, he may have players on his fantasy football roster involved in several different games at once. Each game then becomes important to him, but, instead of rooting for the Detroit Lions, for example, he is rooting for Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson, hoping that “Megatron” will catch five touchdown passes. Sports gambling a practice that was in place long before the birth of fantasy football and bracket predicting, creates interest to the point of addiction. If you lose in sports gambling, you lose real, tangible money. Sports gambling and fantasy sports, whether they be college basketball, the NFL, baseball, or fishing (and yes, ESPN.com once offered Fantasy Fishing), generate interest for casual sports fans that no other creation has before.
Sports are fantastic, and there are few things that I would rather do than sit down and watch a tight basketball game, but I have found that they become exponentially more interesting when I have a team to root for. There are myriad reasons why one may root for a team. A local team or storyline, hatred of another team, an underdog, money invested, or simple gut reactions can lead a person to whole-heartedly cheer on the obscurest of teams in the obscurest of sports. It’s a strange thing, sports fanhood, but it’s what keeps me excited. As painful as it may be (I’m looking at you, Indianapolis Colts), sports watching is always worth the time invested, if one knows who to root for.
“2011 Numbers Game.” Sports Media Watch. http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2011/12/2011-numbers-game-100-most-viewed-sports-telecasts-of-the-year/
“Only 317 Out of 5.9 Million ESPN Brackets Were Perfect.” Business Insider. http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-03-18/sports/30009793_1_brackets-three-upsets-action
Maybe you should split it into paragprahs.
It was on Microsoft Word, but it didn't convert very well.
Not to be a d ick but you have WAYYYY too many commas.
Great essay, and an interesting read.
I can't say it entirely applies to me as really the only sports I like are Basketball & Tennis. If any other sport is on I will almost always change the channel.
But as far as the NBA goes it's right on the money, my first instinct is to root for the local team, however I'm European so I clearly don't have a home time. I tend to find myself subconciously rooting for the team with either the most impressive European player, or the most European players. It's not that I don't like American players, it's just a natural thing I subconciously do.
Rooting against "the enemy" is another thing I find myself doing, though I know Lebron is the best, and respect his game, I don't respect his character. Due to this I will openly admit if I see a Heat game on I will either root for the other team or watch something else instead.
When it comes to March Madness, I will always go for the underdog. Nothing is more exciting to me than Cindarella stories. I think being European it really helps me enjoy the game more, because I have no local bias.
Great writeup, should get an A, I always find myself rooting for the players I love, so Dirk, even Kobe because I love to watch that beautiful fadeaway, and Tim Duncan, and of couse my all time favorites Shaq and Yao. But as a fan of the game, I root for Lebron, because I simply want to see the games greatest take over the game like nobody ever has, but it's funny because I'm rooting for the Knicks right now but at the same time want Lebron to become a cold blooded killer.
Maybe you should split it into paragprahs.
The more likely outcome will be a full roster of 15, with the final two spots hired on a trial basis until the standard cut-down date in early January. According to Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss, the Lakers have had their eye on Sacre for some time.
The backup power forward job has largely come down to two relatively equal but vastly different players in Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. While both could end up in the rotation, these two guys will be competing for minutes.
If anyone would know about how being an a$$hole on the court can benefit your game, it’s Kobe Bryant. Kobe has the reputation of being one of the most competitive, driven and cold-blooded players in the league. That type of attitude has helped Kobe become of the best to ever play the game.
Dwight Howard seems to be soaking up all the game Kobe is dishing. If he can apply them to his game and not take offense to the criticism, the Lakers will be in good shape for years to come.
Boston Celtics guard Courtney Lee had a nice rebound game this past Sunday against Armani Milano, scoring 11 points. He played much better than his first game in Turkey and it was nice to see him feel more comfortable with his teammates. Lee struggled in the team’s exhibition opener, often looking uncomfortable on the perimeter.cvasdf
Jason Terry is much more comfortable in the sixth man role, so there is no need to mess with that. Besides him, there are really no other pure guards that you can count on as Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith are far too unproven to warrant meaningful minutes at this juncture.
I always felt Lee would be the type of player that would fit in seamlessly with a new team, especially a team with championship aspirations. He doesn’t always need the ball in his hands and has always been a willing defender, dating back to his days at Western Kentucky.
It was nice to see Lee have a solid bounce back game as he will need to provide a calming presence in the starting lineup to start the year.5y4y5w
Maybe two years, maybe three, maybe five years from now. Or maybe even at the end of this season if the Lakers win their coveted 17th franchise world championship—though it's unlikely Bryant would miss out on a chance to break the Boston Celtics' NBA record for most titles.
However, you can calm down Lakers fans. It's very possibly the last thing on Kobe's mind right now as he gets prepared for a crack at his sixth championship.
"I don't know why (the media) is paying any more attention to it now as opposed to two years ago when I said it," Bryant said quizzically. "It's the same old, same old. I don't know what caused it to get their attention right now.csgfdsd
"What I commented on is really no revelation." Kobe said about an internet interview he did last week. "It's my 17th season coming up and I've been fortunate to play that long. We'll see where it goes. (There's) a lot of basketball to be played."
And Bryant is very happy that the majority of that playing time will be alongside Nash.
The two-time NBA MVP has adjusted to his new Lakers teammates as if he has been playing with them for years. Which, in essence, he has, according to Kobe.uyi67
"He makes (my game) a lot easier. I can move without the ball and just trust that he'll make the right decision. It's as simple as that. I really don't have to work (as) hard to get opportunities. I find openings within the defense, and he makes the defense pay."
Center Dwight Howard verifies everything Bryant said.
"(Nash and Bryant) know how to play basketball," Howard said after practice."Being the guards, they understand how the offense has to run, and Steve has done an excellent job in finding the open guy. We're just going to play off that.wsrtf43342
"In the game the other night, he was throwing the ball between guy's legs, behind their back and making guys fall. He's making things very easy.
"He's Steve Nash."
Nash said after Sunday's exhibition game that he feels comfortable with Bryant on his side.u64564
When Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant finally emerged from the Los Angeles Lakers' locker room late in the first quarter, they got a standing ovation just for walking to their seats.
The Lakers' fans shouldn't worry. Their big stars expect to be out of street clothes and back in uniform very soon - and for much bigger games than an exhibition in the Inland Empire.
Damian Lillard had 14 points and seven assists in his first NBA action, and the Portland Trail Blazers ran to a 93-75 victory over Los Angeles in a preseason game Wednesday night.
The Lakers visited their avid fans an hour east of Los Angeles with just 60 percent of their projected starting lineup in uniform. Bryant sat out to rest a strained right shoulder, and Howard isn't playing during his deliberate return from offseason back surgery - although he was healthy enough to join in the ''Kobe! Kobe!'' chant that erupted in the first half.vsvsd
“Oh for sure,” Holiday said to HOOPSWORLD when asked if the 76ers can contend. “I think definitely because of what happened last year and what people saw. Heart goes a long way and just being able to fight. The pieces that we added have everything that we want and are good teammates to make us a good team
“I am here to help,” Kidd said. “To do whatever I can do to make the game easier for my teammates, watching from to bench or on the floor. Just things I am seeing and how our opponent is playing and hopefully that benefits leadership and hopefully that helps us win ball games.”
We’ll also throw out his dismal NBA Finals run last season, in which he failed to score in double figures in three of his team’s five games. Overall, he is a player who has improved across the board in each of his three seasons, and averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last year for the Thunder. He also shot 49 percent from the field, 39 percent from three and 85 percent from the foul line – all career bests. Those aren’t exactly Kobe Bryant or even Joe Johnson numbers, but they are solid, and they earned him the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award. Still, a max contract is not due a player with Harden’s stat line.