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The Process of Becoming a Sports Fan - Many Paths to the Same End


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Spun off from other threads. How did you become a fan of your favorite teams (or an individual in the case of golf, tennis, etc.)? Why do you like who you like? And maybe an add-on question: How likely are you to drop one team and move on to another team?

My fandom began with the Redskins. I was 7 years old and watching SB XVII with my family. My dad's a Dolphins fan and my Mom rooted for the Redskins after they moved the DC area about 8 years earlier. So, being a 7 year old, I said something stupid like, "I'm going to root for whoever has the ball." However, I couldn't fight it. I have some vague memories of Miami scoring some touchdowns, especially the kick-off return for a TD, and I don't recall any feeling of excitement. Of course, my one clearest memory from the game was Riggo busting free on 4th down and scoring the go ahead TD. I remember being excited about that. It moved me. I've never looked back or had any hesitation is which team I love. It's almost as if it was in me already and I just needed this game, and that moment, to make me realize it.

The following year, I remember being the only one left in the room watching the Redskins get ripped by the Raiders in SB XVIII. I remember fighting back tears so nobody would see me cry when they came back to the room to get an update. I remember the blocked punt, the INT returned for a TD, missing an XP in the early 3rd quarter after our only TD, and of course the Marcus Allen TD run. To this day, when that Allen TD run is on TV, I change the channel. But, really, I'm over it.

As for the Caps, Nats, and Bullets/Wizards, it's more that I just really like sports and my hometown. No single moments I can tie things back to...because those teams just don't have those moments at the level of the Redskins. I started following the Caps a few years after the Redskins, didn't get into the Bullets too much until the late 80s, and of course the Nats as an adult (I never cared about the Orioles).

If I were to move to another city, I think I could eventually switch teams in hockey, baseball, and basketball. I assume it would take a while and I'd fight it, but I think it would eventually happen. But I doubt I'd ever switch off the Redskins. Those championships in those formative years probably have too strong of a hold on me.

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I have a funny story about "becoming" a Redskins fan.  I moved to this area in the late '70's.  Before that I grew up in the NYC metro area and was a fan of the local teams.  I attended college and then spent some years working in Baltimore.  I became a fan of Baltimore teams, especially the Orioles.  There was a period I could walk to Orioles games (and I suppose Colt games) and I often did.

Now in the late 70's and and before that and after really you were overwhelmed with local coverage of sports and could get little coverage of other teams, including your home teams.   Clearly that opened me up to becoming a fan of first Baltimore and later DC teams.    But for the Redskins there is an extra twist.

I'm not sure of the year and the game but I believe I attended a Skins/Giants pre season game at RFK.   I got tickets with a local friend with something of a local football "pedigree" and who like me was someone who could easily tend to too much drinking.   Oh cr@p, we egged one another on.  (It could get ugly)

Somehow we made it into an entire weekend of drinking.  (geez--I could drink and party but as I learned and never again repeated not an entire Weekend).   We got blasted on a Friday night.   We did something other things and got blasted through Saturday.   Even with a hangover we did some Georgetown brunch heavy on the bloody's drinking (and eating) to start Sunday....went to the game and downed way too much beer....and after the game we ended up in Georgetown again still drinking...ran into some of the footballers he knew and then some Redskins.   I was totally plowed.   Completely!!!

During the game with the "liquor doing all the talking and cheering and yelling"....I found myself cheering for the Redskins.   After which I just realized and decided that with all thought and inhibitions gone...I must now (then) have become a redskins fan....and so its been without question ever since.

One other element to that weekend and the aftermath.   I had this very important meeting/interview for early Monday.   Cripes...I woke up that day with more than a hangover...I still had a drunk on.   During that interview I realized I wasn't on the ball.   Somehow with a lot of effort I picked up my "game" and landed the opportunity.   It was soooo dumb and irresponsible on my part.  I also learned later the interviewer was  holding this meeting as a sort of perfunctory necessity as he and other decision makers had decided to go with me.    But it was sooooooooo stupid of me.  Never again.

I remain a Redskins fan to this day.

Now dgreen you have spoken of attending Skins games;  at RFK and this stadium.  I too have been to both venues and I too valued that "urban setting" and the walk to the stadium with all the folks and goings on from either a parking lot or more likely metro to the stadium.   That was  a terrific environment.   On top of that RFK was always sold out and rabid.  It was a great place to watch games.

What about this stadium (with its name changes)?    Well this place is a great place for tailgaiting and that really adds a lot to an entire game day experience.  Get a group, get a grill(s), get a lot of food and preparation....tailgaiting is a fun addition to the day long experience of attending a football game in my experience.

Now recently of course Snyder has just killed the experience.  Its been years.  He is at the top of the owner/jerk list.   He might hold down the top 3 positions (in my experience) although there are some miserable doozies (Angelos up the road, and that uber arsehole who was required to sell the Clippers as examples).   But year after year Snyder has found ways to both screw up the team and franchise and act like an extraordinarily odious prick to all fans and (so I have heard more than once from different sources) to all employees.

The only thing i hold out on is that Snyder is evidently a complete local fan.  He does want the team to win.  Now he is evidently a super controlling lord over all boss.   It has taken about 15 years for him to realize he has no business being involved in the football side of things.   (so we are describing a super control freak--I mean 15 years...that is a long time to always be wrong).   Its not just that the Redskins haven't been winners, during Snyder's time they have been one of worst franchises year in and year out.

So maybe he'll give up total control on the football side.  Time will tell.  He'll probably still turn the visit into a fan unfriendly suck your money out experience...but possibly the team will start to improve.   Time will tell, and I'm not hopeful about seeing big changes in this year's record.

(Angelos, on the other hand, couldn't give a rat's ass if the Orioles become good or not or build a franchise.   He is like an infection Baltimore can't cure)

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When I moved here in 1985 there was no hometown MLB team. I never considered Baltimore my home town team, though I rooted for them, but not as much as my first love, Houston, which was my home team in SW Louisiana. I was a Houston Colt .45/Astros fan from 1962-2005, the year DC got the Nationals. I switched allegiance in 2005 completely. When Houston came to town, I was rooting for DC!

The Houston baseball franchise did not reach a single World Series until, you guessed it, 2005! And I had totally switched allegiances by then. Wished them well, but it was not my team anymore.

Hope I won't be waiting from 2005- 2048 before DC goes to the World Series! I will be starting to get old by then!

It's going to continue to be bad with "transplants" who live here for years and years, even decades, yet come to our ballpark and root and boo against our home team. Come to the games and cheer your "used to be" city if you must, but don't boo our home team, YOUR home team since you've lived here so long, is all I say.

(I don't know what the cut-off point for this is. I rooted for Houston over Baltimore for 20 years here, 43 years in all, then I totally switched. I guess it will differ for everyone).

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This is such a fun topic.

Baseball - I have been a Braves fan since I was 6.  We moved to the Atlanta area around that time, and my dad and I would watch the games together.  Sometimes we'd even get to go in person, back at the old Fulton County Stadium, even though it was a pretty long trek from the northern suburbs.  Also, we lived near (not in) a country club community where a lot of the players lived, so we'd frequently see them in the grocery store or at the gas station.  One of my best friends from childhood even went to church with Dale Murphy, so I got to meet him a few times.  This was all back in the days when TBS had the big TV deal with the Braves, so you could see their games no matter where you were - which is how my grandmother, a life-long Mets fan, started loving the Braves as well (our trips to in-person games usually coincided with her summer visits from NY).  So, even though we've lived 5-6 years in DC, and even though we plan to live here until we retire, I just can't get behind the Nationals.  Not only are they a division rival, but my grandmother would just roll over in her grave.  Being a Braves fan is such a huge part of who I am, and no matter how much they let me down, they always make me smile and think of family.

Football - I started enjoying football when I was in college at the University of Georgia.  I stayed in the SEC for law school (University of Tennessee).  I root primarily for the Bulldogs, though I'm certainly not upset when the Vols are successful (against other teams besides UGA, of course).  I started getting into the NFL when we moved back to Atlanta in 2008; I root for the Falcons (we were season ticketholders), but my fanhood there isn't as fervent as it is with the Braves.  If certain things changed with the Washington team (such as ownership), I might be more willing to watch and support.  Of course, Fantasy Football keeps me interested in the league as a whole, and there are certain players who I followed in college and who I now keep tabs on in the pros.

Hockey - My whole family is from NY, and my dad used to play, so I was raised a NY Rangers fan (and I was also raised on the ice - never played hockey myself, but I can skate far better on hockey skates than figure skates).  We tried to keep up with the Thrashers when we lived in ATL, but that was just a losing proposition from day one.  When we moved back to DC, we got into the Caps, and now we have season tickets.  My dad is, to say the least, very disappointed in me for not following in his Rangers-fan footsteps.  But, it makes the rivalry interesting, since he and my husband do some really good trash talking.

I love tennis because I used to play (poorly), but I don't really have any huge favorites.  I don't like the Olympics overall, but I do like watching certain individual sports, like track and field and swimming.  For me, other than the "big" sports like baseball/football/hockey, my level of interest has to do with whether I've participated in the sports myself - I feel like I understand more that way.

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Having been born and raised in Rhode Island (and with my parents and the vast majority of my extended family born and raised there), I at least nominally root for all the New England/Boston teams. Having lived in DC or the DC area since 1998, I also root for the Washington teams, except that I waver about the Redskins due to Daniel Snyder, the name, and the fact that they're big rivals of the Giants, which is my father's NFL team (despite having been born and raised in New England, he started life as a Giants fan (the Patriots didn't come into existence until he was a teenager), and he HATES the Patriots).

Probably of all the major sports I pay the most attention to and know the most about baseball, and of course I'm a Red Sox fan. Most of this comes from geography and family history, but the 1986 World Series (game six, Bill Buckner) also played a huge role. I was 13 and following every development of the season and the post-season. I was a paper girl, and every day as I delivered the paper I'd note the Red Sox "magic number" to clinch the pennant (I think that's what the magic number was?) as the regular season wound down -- this was on the front page of the Evening Edition (long since obsolete) of the Providence Journal. Then I kept tallies of the playoff series on the front of one of my school notebooks. I distinctly remember that game six and the ball dribbling through Buckner's legs and how heartbreaking it all was. From 1986 until 2004 I was a rabid fan and watched as many games as I could, even when I moved away from New England. Those playoff series against the Yankees in 2003 and 2004 were AMAZING (in 2003 in a terrible way and in 2004 in a wonderful way). Oddly enough, once the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 for the first time since 1918 my rabid fandom waned. I'm still certainly a fan, but I don't follow them like I used to, despite being married to a quite dedicated Red Sox fan. One of my friends described me as a foul weather fan. :-) In 2013 I got married in Vegas, and my husband and I watched playoff and World Series games in Vegas and all up the Califormia coast from LA to SF as we drove the Pacific Coast Highway for our honeymoon. We considered the World Series Championship that year to be the Red Sox's wedding gift to us.

Funnily enough about the Orioles, they used to be a non-entity to me, despite them being the Red Sox's AL East rivals. But then I think partially because the Nats came on the scene (I consider them my NL team and am glad there's not much conflict between rooting for them and rooting for the Red Sox) and partially because the Orioles celebrated like they won the World Series when they eliminated the Red Sox from the postseason in either 2011 or 2012 (even though the Orioles didn't make the postseason that year either) I can't stand the Orioles. Makes for some fun trash talking with some of my fellow Marylanders.

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When my grandfather emigrated to the US he spoke no English. His family landed in St. Louis and in time he learned English listening to Cardinal's and Brown's games on the radio.  My mother developed her love early.  Meanwhile, in Utah, my father was listening to Cardinal's games as they were the Western most team in the 1930s.    I don't think I had much of a choice in the matter!  I did like the "Clubbies" for a bit when I was 4 and 5 but I got over that pretty quickly. :-)

In college I started doing Rotisserie baseball and that is eventually how I met Mr. BLB.  Who is a Met's fan... (Sigh...)   I became an Orioles fan because it was baseball, and Cal Ripken and Camden Yards was a great place to see a game in the 90s.

We tried really hard to be Nat's fans.  We bought season tickets.  We promised we raise BL-3rd grader as a Nats fan. But he is a die-hard Cards fan.

I've fallen away from most other sports and what passion I had for tennis apparently started and ended with John McEnroe (although we did see Andy Roddick play Agassi when he was just a punk kid and run Agassi ragged...That was one of those moments when you know you were seeing someone special.)

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The first time I became invested in a sports team was probably when I started watching Yankees games with my grandfather in upstate NY. My love of the Yankees continued for a few years until my early teens. I remember a couple of seasons where I watched every minute of the MLB playoffs. My heroes were Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Bucky Dent, etc. By my early teens I no longer lived in NY so I lost interest.

I started playing tennis as my interest in baseball waned. My primary opponent was a big John McEnroe fan while I was all about Bjorn Borg. I even got my mother to spring for the expensive Donnay tennis racket he used and promptly broke it in a fit of anger on the court. My buddy and I watched every Breakfast at Wimbledon for a few years even though I couldn't stand listening to Bud Collins.

Now, in my old age, I'm a Nats fan and I also watch the tennis majors. I enjoy afternoons watching golf and snoozing on the couch. I wasn't a football fan until a friend got me hooked on Fantasy Football a couple of years ago. The thing with FF is that you don't really develop a loyalty to any one team, you're just interested in certain players. My first year I finished last, last year I lost in the league super bowl, and this year I'm convinced I'll win. After all I drafted both Le'Veon Bell and Matt Forte! Bell plays tonight-- wish me luck!

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