Friday, January 22, 2016
Patriots Fans Have Earned Their "Arrogance"
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 11:00 pm
Are New England sports fans arrogant?
Yep - without a doubt. That's not exactly breaking news, though some (including columnists) enjoy acting as if this is a new phenomenon which they have just discovered.
That arrogance is embarrassing to some "sports elitists" who like to lecture fans on how they should act and think. I chuckle when I read or listen to someone making their living from the games people play opine that others are taking it far too seriously.
Recently, we were treated to the view that Patriots fans have been far too hard on poor Peyton Manning, the Denver quarterback and certain future hall-of-famer. New Englanders were accused of "star-bashing" and mocking the superstar, who is in the twilight of one of the greatest careers in professional sports history.
It was suggested we Pats fans might be acting out of guilt because of Spygate and Deflategate, that we might be overcompensating with "bluster." We were told we should "act like you've been there before".
Well, we have been "there" before. And while that does not give us the right to act irresponsibly, or wrongfully besmirch the reputation and character of anyone, it does mean we as fans have earned the right to enjoy it.
And if that embarrasses anyone - that's just too damn bad.
The expression "fan" is derived from the word "fanatic." Those who buy tickets or watch their favorite teams from the comfort of home often do so as an outlet, a form of relaxation or emotional relief.
It's not politics or government. There are no lives at stake. Economies do not collapse and countries are not overrun when a football team wins or loses a game, no matter how important.
So, if those fans want to scream at their TV, or call obnoxious sports radio talk show hosts and exchange stupid theories of why certain coaches or players do certain things - let them. These are games designed to bring about emotional responses, and it is universally understood that emotional responses have little to do with logic.
When done within the bounds of common decency, bashing the superstar on the other team is as American as apple pie and Chevrolet. I have done it - I admit it.
I have booed players on certain teams simply because they stand in the way of the organization I support accomplishing its goal. Yes - I have often "cheered for laundry," as the saying goes.
I am not one of those people who objectively watch sporting events for the pure appreciation of the skills exhibited by the participants. If that makes me arrogant or a bad person, I can live with that.
Perhaps others are right. Maybe I should sit around on Sunday afternoons and clinically discuss and appreciate the skilled athletes I am privileged to watch. Maybe I need to be more of a high-brow type of sports fan.
I could sip wine coolers with my friends, discussing the finer points of each game.
"Gee, that opposing quarterback certainly throws the deep ball exceeding well," one of us would note. "He just threw the touchdown pass that beat us, but you have to admire the skill he exercised in doing so."
But, I don't.
I yell and make unreasonable demands. I engage in stupid conversations about what plays should be run. I follow crazy superstitions, and when at professional games have been known to yell at players in an effort to distract them (like they can actually hear me).
I'm a fan of the Patriots and other local teams. I enjoy arrogantly teasing my New York friends (not Giant fans, for obvious reasons). This Sunday, I will call all my New Jersey friends and ask, "Hey, what time are the Jets playing today? Oh, sorry. I forgot."
I've followed my teams through the low points. I've earned this arrogance some speak about. And I see nothing wrong with enjoying the living daylights out of it while I can - within reasonable limits, of course.
Spare me the sanctimonious drivel about "bluster." I'm a fan of the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, and I want to watch them ease Peyton Manning into early retirement this weekend.
I hope that's not too harsh.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and 44-year Patriots season ticket holder. He can be emailed firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.