Moving can be hard for anyone. You leave behind the people you know, the friends you have and even your favorite pizza joint.
But leaving behind a sports team? That’s like leaving behind your parents, your dog and your buddies all in one. You’ve cried with your hometown team, you’ve celebrated with your hometown team and, like any good friend, you have probably made a few mistakes along the way that you can hopefully laugh about later (I’m glaring at you Chicago Bears for drafting Cade McNown).
So, what are you supposed to do when you have to relocate?
My father was faced with this same situation in the early 1980s. After growing up in suburban Milwaukee and attending this fine university, he obviously grew up loving the Packers, Brewers and Bucks. But, after attending graduate school, he found work in Chicago and committed what some north of the state line may call blasphemy — he became a Chicago fan.
Of course, in the early and mid-’80s, it was a great time to be a Chicago sports fan. The Bulls had just drafted some guy named Michael, the Bears shuffled their way to a Super Bowl title and the Cubs weren’t that bad (which is saying something). So, my dad jumped on the bandwagon and has been riding it ever since.
While my dad may have received a fair-weather gust to point him in the right direction when he relocated, it does not mean he made the right decision. Moving may take you away from the team, but it doesn’t take the team away from you.
Since changing allegiances is not an option, what can you do when you move?
To me, there are several plausible answers to this daunting question. One is to adopt a second team. Now, this may be tricky, especially if you are like my dad and move to a city with teams that rival each other as much as Chicago and squads from the state of Wisconsin do. If this is the case, you have no choice. You must stay loyal to your original team at all costs, no matter how much you buddies berate you, co-workers send you taunting e-mails or girls turn you down because you are “an effing FIB.” The joy you get when your hometown team wins against your new city’s squad is even greater than it would have been had you been home. In business terms, the benefits of victory far outweigh the costs of being the butt of countless jokes.
But, the case of moving to a neutral city can present a whole different set of circumstances. In this situation, it may not be so bad adopting your new city’s squad as your second team. By this, I mean you still root for your hometown squad (even if it means staying up until midnight to watch the late Lakers game on your parents’ Slingbox from the west coast), but you can also put some time and effort into casually cheering for your adopted city’s team.
Sure, it is OK to maybe buy a new ball cap or even a jersey that calls your new city home, but, of course, there need to be rules. For example, if your new city’s team and your hometown squad happen to play each other, under no circumstances can you cheer for your new team just to escape some criticism that you may receive later. Also, it should be considered a cardinal sin hoping for “a good game.” That is just like calling a game a tie, which is only for stupid NFL rules and little league play. But, as soon as the game or the series is over, it’s OK to go back to rooting for both teams equally.
While it may seem OK to adopt a new team, there are some downsides. First, if your new and old city both have football teams, who do you watch on Sunday? What if they are both noon games? What happens if they play each other in a championship game? You can’t celebrate if either team wins. That would just be silly.
The other problem with adopting a new team is it takes way too much emotional strength to cheer for two teams. Living and dying each week, game by game, for one squad is hard enough, but for two? It would be enough to put me on Prozac. By the end of it, you would be one of those guys who end each week in a mild mood because you can be happy one team won even if the other faltered.
To me, there is no real option. Especially with today’s technological advances (the miracles that are MLB.tv and NFL Sunday Ticket and Slingbox) it makes it a lot easier to be a Celtics fan on the west coast or a Cubs fan in the desert. Even if the bandwagon does come along, I’ll still keep my trusty ride.
Ben Solochek is a senior majoring in journalism and history. An out-of-stater? Where do your allegiances lie? Tell him at firstname.lastname@example.org.