BobLee:.. Sports Fans: College vs Pro and…
In my latest Life Quest to find topics that are not politically-toxic… or at least not lethally so, I am choosing today to discuss the differences between “college sports fans” and “pro sports fans”.
For the past year I have participated in a St Louis Cardinals fan site. It is not part of any national website network designed to mine for clicks and loaded with obnoxious ads… Those attract a decidedly unsavory faction of the human species. I was a columnist for one of those for several months last summer. As Robert Wuhl’s character in Bull Durham said about “working at Sears” …
“Sears sucks, Crash. Boy, I worked there once. Sold Lady Kenmores. Nasty, whoa, nasty….”
My opinion of current humanity was already dangerously low. That, albeit brief, experience almost nuked it altogether.
Anyhow this other Cardinals site has 6,000+ “members” who hold daily referendums on how stoopid the St. Louis Cardinals’ Owner, GM and Manager are. Also any player who dares to go 0-fer two games in a row… or, God forbid, a reliever who is not Mariano Rivera 2.0.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’ve always said what is “unique” about the Triangle-area Hated Rivalries is their geographic proximity. Unlike tOSU / Michgan or Alabama / Auburn or ECU / SMU (Huh?) is that the bulk of the fan bases share the same regional media as well as sharing cul-de-sacs, church pews, civic clubs and area sports bars.
If Familiarity Breeds Contempt was ever on-point it is the college sports fan rivalries in the Triangle… but I think my over-arching premise holds true even beyond this particular situation. Especially in the SEC where each fan base has its own aberrant stereotype.
That premise IS…
For college sports fans the focus is on rival fan bases.
For pro sports fans the focus is a team’s roster & management.
The “obvious” Incompetence of the idiots are that are responsible for putting that roster together… or knowing how to employ it properly during the course of each inning of 162 games. Inning by inning referendums on a manager’s future are quite common.
HOW DARE they not field a championship team EVERY YEAR. If one’s personal and professional life is pretty much in the crapper “my team” winning is my only vicarious hope for getting thru a day…
NOTE: MLB teams have not discovered that “the key” to competitiveness is, of course, a $35,000,000 IPF. Maybe I should share that fact with those 6,000 Cardinal fans.
St. Louis has a long-standing tradition as “a great Baseball Town”. The locals have turned out faithfully for 70+ years… and been rewarded with 11 World Championships and umpteen post-season games. Cardinals fans refer to themselves as BFIBs – Best Fans In Baseball.
Over the past decade the top home attendance in MLB has consistently been Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants. Part of that can be attributed to 40,000+ seat stadiums. Red Sox and Cubs consistently sell-out significantly smaller venues.
The Cardinals “incompetent management” has consistently fielded very competitive teams in “the modern era”… among the top 3-5 performers in MLB viewed over 20+ years.
Other than a bitter rivalry with The Hated Cubs most Cardinal fans have little/no interest or knowledge of the other 28 teams in MLB. They play their NL Central rivals 19 times each season but profess limited knowledge of their players.
St Louis and Chicago are 275 miles part. St Louis and Kansas City are 250 miles apart but in different leagues. They do play each season as inter-league rivals. There is some amount of cross-pollination among residents of those cities… but it’s Not Personal as it often is with college fans.
Many life-long Cardinals fan go their entire lives and never encounter fans of 95% of MLB. Unless one counts the imaginary world of the Internet… and who does that?
Cardinals fans, of course, consider Cubs fans to be “all abuncha ______”. The same convenient broad-brush that all fan bases use to denigrate every other fan base.
The Cubs recent rise to prominence – The Theo Era – has been especially difficult for many Cardinals fans.
That famous BobLee line… “The Best of us = All of us… The Worst of them = All of them” does hold true at the pro level too.
All it takes is one flaming jack-ass on a fan site to create the stereotype for millions of his fellow fans. That’s kinda scary when you think about it.
Luckily, not a lot of “thinking” goes into such matters.
ADs on the college level = GMs on the pro level. In either case, 94% of any fan base is convinced he/she could do a better job… assuming, of course, that they are allowed 20/20 hindsight re-dos on all coach hirings and player trades et al.
Having to make critical decisions involving “somebody else’s” millions without that hindsight is far too risky. YIKES!
The Cardinals currently have over $40,000,000 /year invested in three very unproductive contracted players. The prospects of “eating” much of that to free up roster spots for “productive” players has to be a tough call to make to the “stoopid owner” who signs those BIG $$$ checks.
It is not a Cardinals specific problem. It is epidemic across MLB.
Much of the free agent yadda yadda this past off-season was a reluctance to commit mega-bucks to aging players past-their-prime.
Pro sports fans can’t do a darn thing about how rosters are put together except bitch a lot when Player X goes “0-fer” or walks a guy in a late-inning.
College sports fans can / do complain about rival fans 24/7/365. Even if their team(s) have down years on field/court “those _____ fans are all still a buncha _____!”
One glaring similarity with Pro / College fans…
They ALL agree that ESPN “hates our guys” and continually praises (insert “hated rival”)… sound familiar?
I have a rhetorical What If for your contemplation… regarding Kaeper-kneeling and the National Anthem…
Obviously the National Anthem Issue is nowhere near over. However NFL players chose to respond to the NFL owners new policy… “it” is an issue.
IF… you attend your team’s (college or pro) game and someone in your immediate proximity (but not anyone you know) chooses NOT to stand for the National Anthem thereby showing their support for whatever is being protested that day
…. What, if anything, would your reaction be?
- Assuming you would not physically confront the protesting fan… would you mutter your disapproval in a stage whisper? … convey disapproval via “a gesture”?
- Would you evaluate the protesting fan’s overall appearance and behavior and assign a political affiliation to him (or her)?
- OR… Would you convey your support of his/her protest… and/or right to protest?
- If another fan in your vicinity chose to physically confront the protesting fan would you “get involved”?
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