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“We”
By Matt Mitchell

The team I support is my team. I root for them, cheer for them, I feel pain when they lose, I feel glee when they win. They are my team, I am their fan. They require my support to compete, financially and they need the enthusiasm I provide. They have a home-field advantage because of me, because of what I bring to the table. I hate their opponents more than they do sometimes. I wear my team’s colors. I purchase their memorabilia and authorized merchandise. I study their history. Do I love them? Yes. I do. They are my team. So why is it that some people have a problem with me referring to my team using possessive pronouns? As when, during a game, the team is losing I might be heard to say “We need to score more points!” I’ve heard people say (Doug Gottlieb, who played basketball with Oklahoma State and says that it’s a pet peeve of his to hear fans refer to their team possessively) that I can’t claim the possessive because I’m not on the team, I’m not a coach or a player, so I have no right to the possessive pronoun use, that I should stick with ‘they’ and ‘them.’ But there’s a problem with that thinking: If I stop cheering possessively I’ll lose some of the passion that I have for my team. It’s much more difficult for me to urge ‘them’ to score than it is for me to urge ‘us’ to score. By contrast, I can watch a game that I have no emotional interest in and pick a team and support that team, hoping they win, cheering when/if they do. But it’s a detached enthusiasm; I have nothing vested in a win or a loss. But when it’s my team… by removing my possessive passion you’re removing part of the passion that all fans have for the game and the team, thereby shooting yourself in your own foot.

Now look, I don’t call the head coach “My coach” and I don’t pretend to be a member of the team or coaching staff. But I feel a kinship with the players and coaches of my team. And while they may not be “my” coaches or players they certainly are our coaches and our players. I am a little bit envious of them, a little in awe of them, and when the time comes I do not sit on my hands, I stand up and cheer and I wear my team’s colors with pride. When I use possessive pronouns when I cheer/root/pull for my team, then I am in my own way emotionally involved, and I am actively channeling every bit of emotion I have toward you, to lift you up, to raise you above, to empower you, the team and the players, to succeed. If you don’t think that’s valuable, then I’ll stop, but I warn you, it’s going to be difficult for me to be emotionally supportive of a team who I comment during the game: “Man those guys need to score some points,” because I lose the emotional investment I’ve made for the team. Is that the kind of detachment you want from me as a fan? If it is, then you must be the type of person who wants a cathedral-type setting at football and basketball games, where all the onlookers keep quiet and watch, discussing the play of each team.

Football ain’t tennis, and it ain’t golf. Football is football, and if you want the fans to be detached then you are willing to also say goodbye to that precious commodity known as home field advantage, because the fans, and all their incalculably supportive glee, are ON YOUR SIDE, and they want to win as bad as you do, which is exactly why they cheer for you the way they do.

In closing I’ll just say that I’m not a fair-weather fan. I don’t only support the team during the good seasons. I’m an Alabama fan, I have been since the day I was born, when Paul Bryant was alive and well and still had a few more National Championships to win. But we’ve had plenty of down years lately, and I’ve weathered them all. And after we lose a game, I don’t chastise them then, either, because I win with you and I lose with you. You are my team.

Here’s hoping we beat the hell out of Ole Miss this weekend. ROLL TIDE!!!

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