Good Team, Bad Town

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Editor’s Note: We’re introducing a new writer. Welcome Brian, to the theSportsGeeks.com. Enjoy his first post:

The first step is to admit you have a problem. My name is Brian, and I’m a Lions fan.

It sucks to be a fan of a perennial loser. It’s worse to be a fan of a perennial loser, and live in a city with a contender…but hey, I grew up in Detroit during the Barry Sanders era. The guy was the entire franchise, and was unstoppable in Madden ’92. What was a young man in his formative sports years to do?

I was born in Indianapolis. I moved around to different cities growing up, but I came back to begin my senior year of high school, then got a job here after college. Indy is, all things considered, my hometown. I really like the city, as it offers a lot, but doesn’t suffer much from big city problems like crime or bureaucracy. All that said, it has a major fault.

It’s a terrible sports town.

To walk into any sports bar in Indy today yields colts flags, jerseys, and shirts with the Colts pseudo-official slogan this season that demand you, “Make it Personal” (whatever the hell that means..). Every radio commercial is a bank or store that promises to give away Colts swag with every new account, or announces the team’s third string running back will be available for autographs. The local “news” is inundated with Colts updates during the offseason. Families name their dog “Peyton” and put stickers on their minivans. Heck, even my office has “blue Fridays”, allowing the sporting of jerseys around the workplace. It sure seems like Indy loves it’s team…that is, as long as it’s 14-0, or at very least somewhere in the neighborhood. The part of this story that is usually left out is this: this city goes long, long periods of time without caring about its franchises.

I was a season ticket holder during the ’96-97 season. The Colts, by all accounts, weren’t a bad team. They finished 9-7, and made the playoffs, following a season in which they made a memorable if not improbable run to the AFC title game recently named one of the NFL’s Greatest Games by NFL Films. Despite all this, they still had a hard time selling tickets, and ran right up against the deadline to sellout on more than one occasion. Nobody in town was obsessed with the Colts. I found myself becoming a bit of a closet Colts fan, as it was easy to get behind the gritty play of Jim Harbaugh. Living in the city of a playoff NFL team? Surely there would be others like me…

But it wasn’t to be. There were some fans, no doubt, but for the most part, I found apathy. All anybody cared about were the playoff-bound Pacers. The city was crazy about the Pacers (take the picture I painted previously and substitute blue and white for navy and gold). They used to announce the scores of playoff games over the PA system of grocery stores. You simply did not see all these raving Colts fans.

Fast forward roughly a decade, and the fortunes of the two franchises has flipped, as the Colts enjoy an era of unprecedented success, yet the Pacers now find their tickets slightly more in demand than swine flu vaccine. The Pacers have a deal where you can get 4 tickets for $40 to certain home games, but a city that fancies itself the self appointed “home of basketball” can’t ever seem to attend. Every city has its bandwagon fans, and that I understand, but I’ve never seen it on such a large scale.

To this end, I submit a desperate plea to you fans of contending teams the world over: your team is good. They were not always this way. There will come a time when you find yourself at the bottom, as sports are cyclical. Many of you will not stick around for these lean years, as it’s easier to pick a team up during periods of success. And you know what? That’s ok. That doesn’t speak to your character, or make you less of a person. I’m not a better human being for sticking with a joke of a franchise. That said, people that follow sports continuously find it ridiculously annoying when you use your newfound bravado to insult our bad team (think HEAD ON commercial mixed with fat chick that thinks you’re hitting on her). Be a good person, and let me punch myself in the neck over the Lions and Timberwolves in peace.

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  • The_Pip

    Well said! I grew up in Boston in the 80's and did not think I'd see anything that good ever again. And I survived the 90's when all 4 teams sucked, I still wish pain and suffering upon those responsible: Rick Pitino, Dan Duquette, Harry Sinden, and Victor Kiam! I know the amazing decade I just witnessed cannot last.

    The single best part of rooting for a shitty team is that each year they get lucky and put up a win against a good team. You get to laugh mercilessly at that team and their fans. Second best thing is the lack of stress. Every loss is expected and every win is special. (I'm also a long time Bengals fan, I know losing!)

  • aftertaste

    I think this goes along with all of America. I love this country, but America is Branded. You are only supposed to buy whatever is made “hot” by celebrities and icons, anything from dogs to clothing (including football appearal) and once one style or fling is out, once a team is no longer a winning team, its like they never cared in the first place.

    So in a country that is constantly dropping one “fad” from another, this comes as no surprise.

    You loyality is sorely missed by those in indy that remember Colts football pre Payton Manning.
    God Bless you, Happy Holidays!

  • aftertaste

    I think this goes along with all of America. I love this country, but America is Branded. You are only supposed to buy whatever is made “hot” by celebrities and icons, anything from dogs to clothing (including football appearal) and once one style or fling is out, once a team is no longer a winning team, its like they never cared in the first place.

    So in a country that is constantly dropping one “fad” from another, this comes as no surprise.

    You loyality is sorely missed by those in indy that remember Colts football pre Payton Manning.
    God Bless you, Happy Holidays!

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