For the past two years, friends and family have asked me what teams I am a fan of or what my favorite team is. This is the response I give them.
“I grew up a Yankees/Giants/Rangers fan, but I am trying to be neutral for the kind of careers I want to pursue.”
But why do I respond in this manner? Does it have to do with the careers that I’m interested in or is there something underneath the surface that only I know about? That’s what I am going to answer to the best of my ability.
Writer’s note: I still root for the University of Connecticut Huskies and my high school teams. This Coleumn is meant to be about the major sports leagues.
After college, I want to become a sports broadcaster like Joe Buck and Kevin Harlan. If you have been listening to them on the radio or watching them on television, you notice that they call the game with an unbiased attitude. Part of the reason for that is because the games they cover are nationally televised, but their jobs would be on the line if they showed bias toward one team.
Suppose I end up covering games for a single team like Greg Brown does with the Pittsburgh Pirates, then showing support of the team is perfectly fine. However, local broadcasters have to be impartial during the game when the opposition takes the victory or when an opposing player has a great performance. It’s more than just the career that’s impacting the teams I support.
Oct. 9, 2020, former Tampa Bay Rays infielder Mike Brosseau hits a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series, winning that game 2-1 and eliminating the New York Yankees. If you had to ask me the exact day and moment that I vowed to become an impartial sports fan, that would be my answer because I couldn’t deal with the pain anymore.
Growing up a Yankees fan means feeling the relentless postseason pain that they’ve experienced since 2009. Since the Yankees won their 27th ring, they have not won a single pennant and have won a combined three games in the American League Championship Series. Every other postseason appearance has resulted in an elimination in the ALDS or a loss in the Wild Card Game.
I may feel the pain of the Yankees’ postseason failures, but what about the other teams I liked growing up such as the New York Giants and New York Rangers? It’s more of the same. The Giants have been a different story altogether, and although I enjoyed watching them beat the New England Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, everything since 2012 has been trending downward. They have been to the postseason once and even that loss, a 38-13 smacking by the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Round, was painful.
The Rangers are a bit more complicated. They went to three conference finals in four years, but have had their playoff shortcomings like the Yankees. The only reason I don’t root for them anymore is because I told myself I would be a neutral sports fan across all leagues, not just baseball.
You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned a NBA team yet and the simple answer is that my parents influenced who I rooted for. My parents did not root for an NBA team, thus the reason why I don’t show a passion for one team or know all the players like I do with MLB and the NHL.
In addition, there’s also a level of stress that comes with passionately rooting for a team. I want to live a long and healthy life, and although there will be stressful moments, I don’t want sports to be a reason why I die prematurely. When a team that I like gets eliminated, the playoffs become less stressful because I don’t have to root for them anymore; it’s why I sometimes want the teams I like to get eliminated sooner rather than later. This makes the playoffs more enjoyable and I don’t have to worry about the results every day.
For the longest time, I have also worried about superstitions. For the past few years, I would implement my own superstitions on my social media use (such as not checking my social media during games) or in the videos that I watch just so a team would win. By not rooting for a team, I don’t have to worry about these superstitions and I can check the score when I feel like it.
By no means does this make me a bandwagon fan. I’m not going to suddenly disassociate myself with a team when they start losing, nor will I immediately consider myself a fan of a winning team because there are some franchises that I have supported even through their darkest hours. Rather, I consider myself a closet fan of certain teams, such as the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Rams, while showing neutrality to everyone else.
I don’t mind being an impartial sports fan. I’ll show my support for the teams I grew up a fan of here and there, but not being heavily invested in a team helps me enjoy the game while understanding why some teams are likeable and others are not. It’s allowed me to increase the number of teams that I root for while hoping for the best results.
I may be an impartial person when it comes to the sports teams I like, but do not be surprised if I am at a sporting event as a fan and passionately rooting for the home team, especially a UConn men’s basketball game. Sporting events are exciting to watch in-person, but I just want both teams to win.