Sports fans and a "Sports Town"---how far is TOO far?

OK, this is my first original topic, so I hope I have this in the right area. I really don’t want to rant too much, but this topic is a hot button issue for me.

I come from a city that is not really big on sports. (Los Angeles.) I mean, there are sports fans, and all, and it is a big thing, but it is not that big a deal. L.A. didn’t seem to mind a bit when the NFL passed them by - not ONE BIT.

So, coming from a city like that, I recently move to this city in the midwest that really does treat sports like a religion. And I cannot reconcile myself with it. I think it is even a little sick at times! I mean, everyone wears the “team colors” on a game day (and every Friday) businesses have their employees dress up in team colors - they have “Team ice cream” and “Team pasta” and many other team-related products. People paint their cars up in team colors - A LOT of people do this, or put little dorky team flags on their cars. People decorate their entire houses with team stuff - or at least have a special room dedicated to the Team. This is quite common. I think it is scary.

A while ago, when the team lost some big game, the local news listed support groups to call that would help disappointed fans overcome the terrible blow. One time a Team player who messed up a game got death threats. Some people call in sick the day after a game - enough so that rush hour isn’t as congested in the morning. The local news media feeds into it all. I decided to stop watching local news because I could not stand hearing the sports news ALWAYS get the lead story, even if some important national news event (Bosnia, whatever) had just happened.

How common is this? Is this sick, or what?

I don’t have a problem with individuals being big sports fans - hey - it’s fun. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade - there’s nothing wrong with being a fan. But when it is a top priority for a whole town, and everyone is assumed to care deeply about the Team - how normal is this? Why do people get so obsessed? (I often hear that it is because the town is so dull that there is nothing else to get excited about, and I do think there is an element of truth to that.)

So, what do the rest of you say? Is this sick or “normal”?

I don’t really have time to answer right now. The Lions are 5-2 and on top of their division. Come on, lets keep our priorities straight!


I’m not a shrimp, I’m a King Prawn.

-Pepe the Prawn

Yup, sorry Y-babe. I gotta get home and watch my Vikes beat up on the Packers.


What? Did you say something?

Oh, sorry. I was watching Monday Night Football. And these are two teams that I don’t even particularly like.

By the way, is this fanaticism over a pro team or a college team? If it’s college, I think you live in my city. :wink:

It’s a pro football team.

I can see looking forward to watching the game - whatever game that strikes your fancy. But do you decorate your cars, your homes with team stuff? Do you eat “Team” pasta and ice cream? Do you have a whole wardrobe of “Team” clothing? Do you feel despondent (and in need of counseling) if the team loses a Big Game? These are the Big Questions I have…

I myself am a HUGE sports fan. By which I mean that I love to play many of them, watch more of them, and talk about them any chance I get. However, I own no team jerseys, decorate my car only with dirt and grease like, and have never painted my face for anything but the theater (well, for the symphony once but it WAS Halloween).

However, in the pantheon of fan behavior I find dressing foolishly to be amusing, becoming ill or depressed when the team loses to be (clearly) a sign of mental disturbance, and burning cars or looting stores when the team WINS to be moronic and criminal.
Go Bucs!! <and how sad is that!!>

damn – lost part of my tag line.
Go Bucs!! (and how sad is THAT)


I don’t find the behavior that you descibe any more unusual than being a fanatic about anything else…like religion, neatness, pets, car stereos, etc.

Everybody has their compulsions and with some people it’s sports.

No - it’s not the individual’s fanatacism that I am talking about - it’s the whole CITY, and the fact that the local media and local stores cater to it to such an extent that everything else takes second stage. The local atheletes are treated like gods, and can get away with rude and unacceptable behavior.

One person’s geeky fanatacism is fine. But a whole city? It’s overkill. It’s like it’s infectious.


You are right I suppose. A fine city like LA would never react the same way with movie stars.

They don’t. At least not in the same way.

Los Angeles is an “industry” town - they discuss and cater to show business because so many people are employed by the “industry”.

In LA the locals don’t stop everything to cater to movies who want to shoot something in their neighborhood. They are often so unwelcoming, in fact, that many film crews now shoot in Canada, or other areas.

I never in my life drooled or made a stink over a celebrity (and I’ve seen a lot in my day) the way that the locals in this football town do over their local atheletes. The “Team” in the Midwest town I am in now really does not employ that many people - it is not an “industry” the way show business is in Los Angeles. But the locals in this town have decided to focus on the Team, far more than Los Angeles does about show business. For instance, LA news does manage to put an important National or World news story before a local show business story - something this local Sports-obsessed town seems unable to do.

I am dying to know what city this is!
My guess would be greenbay, I can’t imagine any other city being so obsessed about sports that the next day would involve a decrease in rush hour.
I thought Philadelphia was sports jazzed.
Now, the thing with the news. Is this all games or just like big playoff games?


Now - I won’t be giving away my exact location! (I’m too paranoid for that!)

The most dramatic example of how the news media pushes important National news to the background happened 5 or six months ago. When the American Soldiers were captured and held in Kosovo. (sp?) It was the day that they were captured, and definitely BIG news, at least in my mind.

The local Midwestern news had a hasty 15 second blurb about “Soldiers captured in Kosovo…but first… let us tell you about this college football coach that resigned!” I am serious. The college that this coach resigned from was in a city about 200 miles away, by the way - it wasn’t even a “local” college. They had a “man on the scene” who drove down to the college to report on this first hand, they had their sports commentator come in and give a special analysis about this coach quitting. ALL THIS before we got to hear about our soldiers in Kosovo. There are other examples - I’ll just give you this one. After that incident, I swore off local news permanently. I will get local weather off the internet, that’s all I need to know.

To be fair, I don’t think that the locals go all out for every game. (Like, not show up for work after every game.) But they do the “let’s all dress up in team colors!” every damned week. When I told some geeky team-wearing co-workers that I did not think this sort of slavish devotion was common everywhere, they wouldn’t believe me. They would not believe that places like LA don’t do the same thing. Hmph. If they only knew!

The reason is simple:

Thank you. Gotta go… Sportscenter is on…

Yer pal,

Ah, Pat, I’ve been to Green Bay. They don’t have a rush hour. A small traffic surge, perhaps, but nothing like you would find in, say, Chicago. And Yosemitebabe, I’m glad you can’t see my computer room here at home. The Maize and Blue colors would probably strike you blind. I do think I manage to keep things in perspective pretty well, although I have caught my wife quietly collecting and hiding the sharp objects on certain autumn Saturdays.

Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.

-Tom Waits

I live in Cleveland, and the way people’s lives revolve around sports is just nuts. As a confession, I am still a big Cleveland baseball fan, and I used to be a huge Browns fan until they moved, but I must say the over attention the sports teams receive from the local news media sickens me. In 1995 when the Indians made the World Series all the tv anchors hosted their regular news shows from the ballparks while dressed in team regalia, and they did the same type of thing two months ago when the new Browns team played its first game. Similarly, when Cleveland hosted the NBA allstar game in 1997 or so, from the breathless way the local TV commentators and the mayor talked you’d have thought that having the game held here was the precursor to worldwide peace and harmony. Not that the local news shows normally cover anything really heavy anyway, just sensational murder trials and fires, but still you’d think they would have some sense balance.

There is no doubt that our priorities here in Cleveland are seriously out of whack. I think maybe we need a federal truth in labelling law when it comes to pro sports teams, so that the teams would have to be called the “Lerner Cleveland Browns”, “Jacobs Cleveland Indians”, “Jones Dallas Cowboys” and “Snyder Washington Redskins” etc so people get the idea that the teams don’t belong to them and that they are just being hustled for money. (And when I say “they”, I include myself in that group.)

PatrickM: Your city sounds a lot like where I am now. And you’re right - the news media goes WAY overboard when it covers sports, and it is sickening. I don’t find myself bothered so much by the individual fans - it is the whole city, the media, etc., that makes it overkill for me. The news is the worst to take, which is why I am much happier now that I don’t watch it.

As you can imagine, it is too much of a culture shock for me, coming from LA. I mean, when LA lost it’s two football teams several years ago, most Angelenos didn’t care AT ALL. (When I tell the local midwesterners here that, they just can’t comprehend it!)

It is called “Community Spirit” something that I guess those shallow LA types can’t comprehend.

Us Midwesterners consider it a good thing to try to find something to all pull together and be proud of.

BTW… we don’t really need grief counselors when our teams lose. That’s just a joke we tell all of the LA transplants to keep them wondering just how serious about this we really are.

Is it “community spirit” when local sports is considered more important than World news, like American soldiers being held captive overseas? That just sounds excessive to me…

“Shallow LA types”? Obviously you were not around when the '94 earthquake hit. We all pulled together quite well, thank you very much! There are all kinds of “types” in LA, from a myriad of countries. LA is many things, some bad, some good. It is not for everyone, but it certainly has it’s charms. Have you lived there for any length of time? Unless you have, you are just repeating stereotypes and cliches. I am not repeating stereotypes about this town - I am not saying anything mean about it, other than the town seems to be obsessed with sports, and the local media feeds into it and encourages it.

I’m sure you are kidding about the locals needed counseling after a losing game, but that was something that was seriously presented on the local news. I don’t think it was a joke.