Some time in the early 2000’s Bill Simmons wrote a fantastic article, titled, “Rules For Being A True Fan.” It’s a masterpiece. Seriously.
Before going any further, in this post, read the article, in its entirety and then come back over. Done? Good.
What I loved about his article is that it truly got to the heart of what being a fan really means. It’s about loyalty, tradition, history, suffering, celebrating, misery, hope and faith. It’s also very logical. Being a fan, is not the same as being a fanatic. The true fan roots for his/her beloved Cubs, but knows they aren’t winning a World Series, this year. A fanatic throws logic out the window and proclaims, this is the year, the Cubs win it all.
Over the years, I’ve referenced Simmons’ article often. It’s the perfect mic drop for having a debate with another sports junky. In recently re-reading it, I realized, that while still a masterpiece, it was dated. It needed to be updated to reflect the modern sports world that we live in.
I think it needs some updates to reflect the modern sports environment. Specifically:
Bill’s Rule #1: “You can’t purchase a “blank” authentic jersey from your favorite team with no name on the back, then stick your own name and number on the jersey … well, unless you want to be an enormous dork.”
Kmiec’s Rebuttal: With free-agency, one and done and players being traded left and right, I think it’s actually better for a fan to get a jersey with their own name on the back or to buy a retro jersey of a player that’s iconically tied to that team. For example, a throwback Bird jersey never goes out of style. As a Bulls fan, while Scottie got traded to the Rockets and Jordan left for the Wizards, the reality is, I never stopped being a fan. But, updating your jersey collection to reflect the current roster of a team, could bankrupt you these days. A Bulls jersey with my name on the back, never goes out of style and it always reflects that I’m a Bulls fan, for good and for bad.
Bill’s Rule #13: “You can follow specific players from other teams, but only as long as they aren’t facing your team. For instance, it’s fine to enjoy the Brett Favre Experience if you’re a Jaguars fan … just don’t get carried away and start making a scrapbook, collecting all his football cards and so on. That’s a little sketchy. And you can’t purchase his jersey under any circumstances.”
Kmiec’s Rebuttal: We need to broaden this rule. You can’t say, I’m rooting for my team in the playoffs, but I also hope another team does well, just because I like a player on that team. For example, as a Bulls fan, I can’t both root for the Bulls in the playoffs and root for the Spurs, because I like Duncan. One team. That’s it. This become woefully apparent, when you’re both rooting for you team and an opposing player, because you like him.
Bill’s Rules 18/20: “If you live in a city that has fielded a professional team since your formative years, you have to root for that team. None of this, “The Bengals weren’t very good when I was growing up in Cincy, so I became a Cowboys fan” crap.” and “If you hail from New York, you can’t root for the Yankees and the Mets. You have to choose between them.”
Kmiec’s Rebuttal: A slight modifier is needed. If you live in a city that has multiple teams in the area, you can pick none of the above. For example, let’s say you live in the NY/NJ/PA tri-state area. It wouldn’t be crazy to think that as a south Jersey resident you could root for the Eagles or as a Central Jersey resident, you root for the Rangers and so forth. The reason I’m pushing for picking none of the above, is it allows you to play the role of the heel. And we all need a heel.
Simmons Rule 19: “Once you choose a team, you’re stuck with that team for the rest of your life … unless one of the following conditions applies:…”
Kmiec’s Rebuttal: We need to add a bullet that outlines what happens with a particular player causes such shame on a franchise, that it’s completely ok to abandon ship. Lets call this the BALCO rule. If you were a Giants fan, it’s ok to leave because of Bonds. Ditto with A-Rod. Or Pete Rose. Or what happens if your team drafts Winston? Electing to root for another NFL team, if you were a Ravens fan, following their handling of the Ray Rice situation, is something I could understand.
Beyond those edits, I’d like to add a key, new rule. I’m going to call it the Lebron Law. You can root for a team, that’s not your team, so long as it is with the intent of watching someone so hated/despised, lose. This works on a lot of levels. For example, rooting for UNLV against Duke, because you don’t like Laettner. Or rooting for any team, even a rival team, if they’re playing the Cavs/Lebron. Or, my personal favorite, rooting against any team Lindros was on, because he was a dick and you never want to see him get the satisfaction of raising The Cup.
You may be wondering, so who do I root for and why?
Baseball: I’m an Atlanta Braves fan. Some context…I was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1979. I was raised by my grandfather and my mother to be a Mets fan. My dad, being raised in New England was a Red Sox fan. I went to Mets games as a kid. My favorite player was Lenny Dysktra. I rooted for “nails.” I had a signed glove. And I cursed the Mets when they traded him to the Phillies for Juan Samuel, in 1989. By the time they traded Dysktra, I was living in New Jersey, but had not yet entered my formative years. As an angry 10 year old, I vowed to never root for the Mets. My dad, the Sox fan, asked who I would root for, then. The petulant and stubborn child I was, lead me to pick the worst team in the league, the Atlanta Braves. Surely choosing the worst team in the league would show the Mets how upset I was. How did I even know about the Braves? Well, if you recall, TBS had a huge deal with them and broadcasted every single game. It made becoming a fan, at 10, quite easy. I’ve never wavered since 1989. I lived with the Braves misery thru 1990, the breaking of my heart over and over from 1991 thru 2005, save the 1 World Series win in 1995.
Basketball: The Bulls. It’s always been the Bulls. Jordan was my favorite college player. He landed on the Bulls in 1984 and the rest is history. Ironically, I don’t have an MJ jersey, but I do have a throw back John Paxson one. Outside of MJ, he’s my favorite player.
Football: Go Giants. We grew up on Parcells, rooting against Montana, Loving LT, Simms and Bavaro.
Hockey: Rangers! Hated the Devils. Grew up on Gartner, Amonte, Graves, Leetch, JVB, Richer and couldn’t believe it when Gretzky joined us. I celebrated Messier bringing us the cup in 7 and long to see a cup raised again!
Taking Simmons’ rules, I pass the test. The only potential grey area would be by Atlanta Braves choice. Although, I’m taking his passage about “formative years” as the supporting rationale.
What do you think?