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Is a professional team nothing more than a uniform?

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by polypheus, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. polypheus

    polypheus Member

    Dec 3, 2002
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    Imagine that pro sports were played by identical robot athletes. You assemble a bunch of robots and dress them in uniforms, say, "Rockets". Then you assemble the other team and dress them in uniforms, say, "Jazz".

    Okay now, in this thought experiment, with the exception of gambling interest, why would you care or feel for either the robot "Rockets" or "Jazz"? Well, the answer is none except the fact that their wear different uniforms.

    Of course in pro sports, teams are in fact made up of real unique human beings with distinct skills and personalities. But still, that still begs the question of what makes us care about certain teams more than others. Or in other words what makes a "team" a meaningful concept apart from the players themselves.

    I say this because in this day and age we see the following:

    (1) Free Agent Players
    (2) Free Agent Coaches/Management
    (3) Free Agent Owners
    (4) Free Agent Teams!

    So with all this movement of players, coaches, managers, owners and even teams themselves, what is there intrinsically about a team except its name and uniform? Well the answer really is none! Consider when Cleveland Browns became Baltimore Ravens or when Houston Oilers became Tennessee Titans. Many people were fans of Browns or Titans then suddenly when these teams moved, suddenly many people no longer were fans of them. But what has changed except their name and uniform and playing in a different city?

    Of course if you actually lived in those cities, you might be upset and also want to follow a team you can see in person so I understand you might not want to follow teams that move out of town. But what about if you were an out-of-town fan? Shouldn't you then follow Ravens or Titans since these are the continuation of the players and coaches you rooted for? Well of course some did. But for those that didn't, then what reason could there be other than rooting for a piece of clothing or logo?

    Because the concept of being a loyal follower to a piece of clothing and logo really doesn't make too much sense. Sure teams are different and some teams are more interesting and exciting to watch than others. But then that means that we should become Free Agent Fans, not fans of pieces of clothing and logos but of a specific assemblage of players and management at a particularly point in time switching our loyalties as time goes by. Just like players, coaches, owners and even the teams themselves do!

    A Free Agent Fan
  2. JJ

    JJ Member

    Jul 6, 2001
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    Seinfeld did a bit on this about 15 years ago.
  3. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

    Feb 14, 1999
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    That was the best apologetic for fair-weather fandom I have yet seen.

    However, I think you've already touched on the difference-maker for many loyal fans -- the city. I, for example, am a Houstonian and will root for Houston teams because they are my representatives in the world of sports. So, if a team picks up and moves, they lose their old support which was really for the city and only for the team's connection to that city. So, yeah, if we had a robot league where every team was precisly the same, but one represented Houston, I'd root for the Houston one. The personalities are irrelevant (though JVG was really pushing it when he signed Oakley).

    The important issue here is the loyalty of the team to the city. You do see cases of teams leaving, but really it's rare. If teams switched cities as often as players switched teams, it'd kill the league.
  4. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

    Feb 15, 1999
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    Exactly. That's also why I choose to check out and occasionally root for teams from other cities where my family lives like Chicago and the Bay Area (Cubs are excluded, of course).
  5. Rivaldo2181

    Rivaldo2181 Contributing Member

    May 30, 2003
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    I route for the Rockets b/c of a bond I have built with them over the years and because they represent this city. Houston is home and if I were to move elsewhere I would always route for the Rockets because of the emotional, time, and monetary value I have invested in them throughout the years. This is an interesting concept that you bring up but if there were a bunch of robots playing basketball I would NOT watch even if they wore the Rox old school red and gold. It has nothing to do with the jerseys. People still routed for the Rockets when they wore those hideous pinstripped dildo with teeth jerseys. I think the uniforms are just a symbol or identity of the team. Like when I see yellow and purple, I know it's the Lakers or when I see the yellow jersey with blue shorts on a soccer field my first thought is the Brazil national team.
  6. Rocket Fan

    Rocket Fan Member

    Mar 17, 1999
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    I am a fan of the city of Houston, which results in me being a fan of things in the city of Houston :)
  7. Isabel

    Isabel Member

    Feb 15, 1999
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    polypheus - great post. I agree completely... while "loyalty" is good, make sure it's done with some sort of reason in mind - city, players, coach, something - and not just the name.

    Look at our own Rockets. I was one of the "bandwagon" fans who just got interested during the championship years. Other than maybe the city and the front office, what is the same? Not the players, of course, 10 years later. Not the coach. Not the arena or the uniform. We've even cycled through two new uniforms and about three new "eras" in terms of the main players on the team. Compare this team even with the one three or four years ago. None of that stuff is the same. And I lived in Houston then, but I don't now.

    So... why should I keep up with the Rockets, philosophically speaking? Would I have liked these players if they weren't "ours"? I remember hating on a lot of these guys back when and never believing they would wind up in Houston (the latest one being Strickland... it's just so weird). I live in Spurs territory right now and they're actually pretty likeable. The hometown I grew up in also has a NBA franchise now, which it didn't in the mid-90's.

    My main reasons for following the Rockets at this point, other than tradition and blind loyalty, are 1) Yao is cool, and 2) (most importantly) this site and this bbs. I may root for the Spurs and Grizzlies when they're not playing the Rockets... but I would never be disloyal to the bunch of people on this bbs after all these years. :D
  8. swilkins

    swilkins Contributing Member

    Mar 5, 2003
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    Hey, I take exception to this statement.:mad:

  9. 3814

    3814 Contributing Member

    Aug 4, 2002
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    i'm from vancouver. i root for all vancouver teams: BC Lions, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Giants, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Ravens, Vancouver Canadians, and used to cheer for the Vancouver Grizzlies.

    When the grizzlies left, i was a fan for sale for around 2.5 years before settling down as a rockets fan, because, well - mostly of this site - but i don't know - i just felt myself cheering for them all the time. They became my b-ball team.

    NFL however is much more to me than just a bunch of robots in a uniform - since Canada obviously doesn't have NFL teams - I choose teams I like because of style and personality. Therefore for the last 5 years I have liked the Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, and any Terrell Owens team. So yeh...to me they are more than robots wearing a uniform.
  10. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

    Dec 5, 2001
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    Most Tim Duncan fans who buy his stuff are from San Antonio. People despise the Lakers and Yankees, but generally don't care about the Clippers or Mets. Personality and the city makes the team.

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