On Fan-hood (and why I am a Hornets Fan)
Here is my honest confession: I am a die-hard sports fan, I love my hometown NFL team (I began rooting for them when they were 2-14 and never stopped even when they were cover-your-eyes awful), and yet, were it not for the commercials, I may not have watched the Super Bowl. How does this add up? Well, before you judge me, it helps to know that I am from Cincinnati, not New Orleans. The 2-14 team I fell in love with was the Cincinnati Bengals, not the Saints. So, unlike everyone in the Crescent City, I had no vested interest in the game. As it turns out, I am not a fan of the NFL – I’m a Bengals fan who follows the rest of the NFL to be able to scout the team I love.
The same is true of my love for the Hornets. I am not a fan of the NBA. I love basketball, but the league holds no claim on me. I grew up watching Xavier Musketeers games in the nosebleeds of the Cincinnati Gardens with my dad (and was in the stands at the Cintas Center when David West dropped 47 points and 18 boards on the Dayton Flyers his senior season). I became a Hornets fan the day they drafted West. Before he came to the team in 2003, I had no idea who Bobby Phills was. Now, I can list every Hornet player on the roster from the past six years, and I make the trip to watch the (awful) Timberwolves whenever the Hornets come to Minneapolis, my new home. The rest of the league, however? I could do without it. You will never catch me paying for a ticket at the Target Center if the Hornets are not the visiting team. If the Hornets are not in the playoffs, you won’t see TNT or ESPN on my TiVo list. Does this make me a bad fan?
Here’s my question: Do I have to like the rest of the league to be a good fan, or can I simply be passionate about one team? Do I need to care when Nate Robinson goes off for 50, or is it enough to enjoy the team I support? What is it makes a fan – and will you forgive me if I skip the championship games if it’s Kobe and Co again this year?