Sports fandom, and regional bias: a thought question

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#1
We've had several versions of this conversation derail other threads, in the past, so I just wanted to come out and ask the question directly. I am putting this in the #General folder, because I really don't want to make this about the Kings, or any particular team in northern California, but since the overwhelming majority of the people I am talking to are from northern California, that's going to border on the impossible:

As I have mentioned before, I quit rooting for the Kings, in part, because my particular upbringing means that I can't relate to the tribalism that is at the root of Team fandom. Like, I understand it, on an intellectual level, but I can't make my brain connect the dots, to grok the concept in fullness. Like, I was born in Charleston, SC, in 1975. If I were going to allow my sports fandom to be determined by where I was born, the closest professional sports franchises to Charleston, geographically, in 1975, were all in Atlanta. After moving around for my entire childhood, and the first half of my adulthood, I have settled in a suburb of Atlanta. If I were going to allow tribalism/regional pride to determine my sports fandom, I would be an Atlanta Hawks fan... except, I can't think of a single reason why I would ever do that?

So, two-part question:

  1. If you are old enough to have been a fan of a sport, before that sports league moved a team to your area, who did you root for, and why? For example, VF21 used to say that, before the Kings moved to Sacramento, she used to root for the Celtics, though I can't remember if she ever explained what her reasoning was behind that. Like, if you're a Giants fan, and you're, say, 65 or older, who did you root for, before 1958?
    • Alternatively, who did your dad/uncles/grandpa root for?
  2. For the sake of this discussion, stipulate that you had to take tribalism/regional pride out of the equation, Because of Reasons™. If you were required to make something other than geography the primary determinant for which sports teams you rooted for, what would your primary determinant be?
 
#2
I grew up in Sacramento, but the Kings didn't show up until I was 15. I was more of an NBA fan than a fan of a particular team up till then, but did lean towards the Warriors because I could listen to them on the radio.
 
#3
I was 9 or 10 when the moving talk began and 11 on the day the first game was played in Sacramento. I don't know that I had a basketball team at this time, but became a Kings fan right away.

I was drawn to Boston sports teams before I lived there but I *also* rooted for other teams in other sports. As an adult, I have:
a) favored the Kings always
b) kept the Boston teams and abandoned the others as my primary teams (save for SF Giants as I do prefer NL to AL outside of the Sox)
c) adopted the Portland Timbers as my present hometown team of choice.

Aside from that I root for Arizona despite going to uni in Boston because my pops and grandma went there (and occasionally Stanford as my mom went there).

Taking tribalism out of it: I rooted for Elway's Broncos for years, but that was partly due to Stanford connection. Washington Capitals because they were the first hockey team I ever saw and the St. Louis Blues because Brett Hull was nice to me in my first in person NHL game.

I like St. Pauli for soccer outside the US because of their left wing and DIY ethos. Liverpool is the only other team I semi-follow because there seems to be a Hamburg/Liverpool connection.

So I guess, if no tribalism/regional thing it would be the players?
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#5
Taking tribalism out of it: I rooted for Elway's Broncos for years, but that was partly due to Stanford connection. Washington Capitals because they were the first hockey team I ever saw and the St. Louis Blues because Brett Hull was nice to me in my first in person NHL game.
Who were the Caps playing that night, and why didn't you root for them, instead?
 
#6
Who were the Caps playing that night, and why didn't you root for them, instead?
They were playing Edmonton. I don't know why, these were Gretzky's Oilers and I guess maybe I wanted to root for the underdog?

I will say if I turn on a game as a neutral I almost always root for the underdog.
also notable for those under 25 or so: aside from the Celtics, Boston teams were mired in mediocrity/lovable loserness in the 80s and 90s. ESPECIALLY THE PATRIOTS.
 
#9
I started rooting for the Braves because they were on TBS and my grandpa used to watch them all the time. I was an A's fan when I was in my single digits, probably because I collected cards and thought Canseco, McGwire and Henderson were cool and they were local. I don't remember being able to see very many games on TV and after we got cable, I saw the Braves on all the time and started watching them with my grandpa and became a fan quickly.

I think it would be difficult for me to switch any of my sports teams. If the Kings left, I'd probably just still be a Kings fan. If the league completely got rid of the team, I can say with almost certainty that I probably would not have another favorite team and if I did find one, I wouldn't like them even remotely as much as I do the Kings.

Sort of a case in point, I used to love watching Nascar in the 90s. When my favorite driver retired shortly after, my interest in the sport dwindled to the point where it went from my #1 favorite sport, to something I'd only watch here and there if it was on TV. I never found another driver to root for and even though I liked some more than others, I could never be a real big fan again. I'll still watch it to this day but I don't really have a favorite so it's about 5% as entertaining as it was for me in the 90s.
 
#10
So, the first-ever hockey game you ever saw, was Gretzky versus Somebody Else, and you decided to root for Somebody Else?

Hey, respect.
Their goalie that night (Clint Malarchuk) was incredible in this game which I think finished 3-2, and I guess I thought their jerseys were cool too? I never had much love for those Edmonton teams even though I think adult me would like them because Edmonton is such an unlikely big-time city. But I did not like Mark Messier or Esa Tikkanen among other players at first sight, although I respect them now.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#11
So for Question 2, do you mean right now?
Now, or at any point, really. Trying to figure out how sports fans establish their mental hierarchy, absent the tribalism thing. Like, if you live in northern California, but you don't live in San Francisco or Oakland, how do you decide between the A's or the Giants? What's the hierarchy, there?
 
#12
Now, or at any point, really. Trying to figure out how sports fans establish their mental hierarchy, absent the tribalism thing. Like, if you live in northern California, but you don't live in San Francisco or Oakland, how do you decide between the A's or the Giants? What's the hierarchy, there?
We went to watch both teams when I was a kid growing up. Today the primary reason I chose the Giants is because I wanted to root for a NL team. I really think NL is more cerebral.
 
#13
Now, or at any point, really. Trying to figure out how sports fans establish their mental hierarchy, absent the tribalism thing. Like, if you live in northern California, but you don't live in San Francisco or Oakland, how do you decide between the A's or the Giants? What's the hierarchy, there?

It's so age dependent. I find it weird in general when adults are picking a team for the first time. Like, what have you been doing the past 30 years?

But I think sports fandom in general is determined by so many facotrs

a. location (that's easy, and your premise for asking these questions)
b. parents - kids can either be fans of the team their parents are fans of OR, the go completely rogue because they like pissing off their parents.
c. kids will pick a team that usually wins something when they were younger. A kids friend is a Red Sox and Seahawks fan. Guess who was in the WS and Super Bowl when he got into those sports?
d. colors. Don't sleep on this. I'm a cubs fan because I like Blue and we had WGN when I was younger.
 
#14
I find a lot of people in Portland will root for football teams that feature UO quarterbacks. For a number of years the Titans were on every Sunday's rando AFC game because of Marcus Mariota. And now we are getting Chargers who have Herbert.

Also the colors thing for sure spawned many Raider and Steeler fans and had a lot to do with every team trying to get black unis by the 90s.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#16
b. parents - kids can either be fans of the team their parents are fans of OR, the go completely rogue because they like pissing off their parents..
Huh. If I were basing my sports fandom on who my dad roots for, I'd be a Cubs/Bulls fan. Also, the high school I went to, when I decided to root for the Kings, was in a town that is almost exactly equidistant from Milwaukee and Chicago. I have no idea who my biological father roots for: while we've mended our relationship, somewhat, since I became an adult, we never actually talk about sports.

d. colors. Don't sleep on this. I'm a cubs fan because I like Blue and we had WGN when I was younger
This is something that I definitely hadn't given enough thought to, mainly because my family didn't get cable until I was sixteen, but I can definitely see how access to TBS and WGN could influence people in areas that don't have a local team to get behind the Braves and the Cubs.

If I were deciding who to root for, based on colors, I guess I'd be a Hornets/Jaguars/Sharks fan?!
o_O
 
#17
And the second question?
I don't really see it as tribalism. I think people tend to root for the teams they have the most (or easiest access to). That in itself has changed over time.

For instance, when I was a kid I had easy access to the Giants, 49ers & Warriors (then Kings). This was all mostly via the radio. Most games weren't televised during the week, and nationally televised games mostly consisted of big market teams (which is a big reason that teams from LA, NY, Boston, & Chicago have a lot of National fans.) Success also played a part, which led to the Cowboys & Steelers getting a lot of fans in the 70s & 80s.

I think MJ (started by Bird & Magic) started creating fans of teams based on star players. It was more common back then for players to stick with one team for most of their careers. Now you see fans follow players from team to team a lot more.
 
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#18
In the 90s I sometimes chose EPL squads based on the kit sponsor being a beer I drank (hello Alan Shearer!)

I also liked San Jose Clash because the Clash were my favorite band and their cheering section that went by the Casbah. Then they reverted back to the Quakes and turns out many of their fans are hugely awful.
 
#19
Also while a lot of us Xers chose by who we could see on TV for millenials I bet many picked teams based on video games? I remember NHL really only blew up with the huge popularity of NHL 94. Obvs Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl is legendary even among those who never saw him play.
 
#21
Huh. If I were basing my sports fandom on who my dad roots for, I'd be a Cubs/Bulls fan.
Do you really think parents don't indoctrinate their kids?

How many 3 year olds do you see wearing a team shirt. They didn't buy it.

I mean, same thing goes for religion and politics, etc. That 5 year old sitting in church certainly didn't wake up and decide to go to church by themselves.
 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
#22
In a way, I think sports fandom is, if anything a very, very weak form of tribalism in most cases. So weak, that I'd perhaps prefer to call it Laundryism. What I mean by that is that while sports fandom can foster an "us versus them" attitude, that attitude basically begins and ends on the field of play. Even the most avid Kings fan isn't going to say, "I can't be friends with George; he roots for the Lakers!" No Green Bay resident, upon seeing a man in Vikings t-shirt getting mugged is going to think, "Well, he deserves it." Even if jest happens, nobody honestly worries that their daughter might marry an A's fan. This is likely because most people have at least a modicum of rationality and realize that sports rooting doesn't really mean anything.

I think real honest-to-goodness tribalism does crop up today, particularly along political lines, among others. Where people think "it really matters" they often are willing to take the "us versus them" to extremes basically never witnessed in sports fandom. Does the fundamental phenomenon of tribalism exist in sports? Sure, but it's so watered down in magnitude that I think it's worth making a distinction.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
#24
Do you really think parents don't indoctrinate their kids?
Can't honestly say that I've ever thought about it that hard: my dad never tried to indoctrinate me into his sports fandom (probably because I'd never shown any interest in sports until, on a whim, I decided to try out for the wrestling team, in the tenth grade), and I never tried to indoctrinate my son, who doesn't like sports, to this day. Kids I hung around with in school didn't really like sports, either, so it never came up.
 
#25
Can't honestly say that I've ever thought about it that hard: my dad never tried to indoctrinate me into his sports fandom (probably because I'd never shown any interest in sports until, on a whim, I decided to try out for the wrestling team, in the tenth grade), and I never tried to indoctrinate my son, who doesn't like sports, to this day. Kids I hung around with in school didn't really like sports, either, so it never came up.

Maybe these girls would have picked those fluffy panda hats because they are soft or cute, but those girls didn't choose to be SF Giants fans. Their parents told them to be, and like most good kids, they did what their parents asked.

There are million examples like this. My son got baby clothes with the teams I like on them since he was born. My dad literally walked into the birthing room and handed him a bat and glove. I mean, not literally handed to him, he handed it to me, for him, but this is what parents and grandparents do.

 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
#27
I grew up in the country (about 25 miles from Sacramento, without cable or satellite TV), so my early sports fandom was largely based on who was on TV the most locally.

For the NBA, I was more of a general fan of the major teams on broadcast TV (especially the Magic Johnson Lakers and Larry Bird Celtics, and later also the Michael Jordan Bulls). When the Kings moved to Sacramento I immediately "attached" to the local team and they have been "my" team ever since (while generally liking the above teams when the playoffs started and the Kings weren't in it). Obviously I like the Stockton Kings affiliate as well. We typically go to maybe 4-6 Sac Kings games/year and maybe 1-2 Stockton Kings games/year. I try to watch most Sac Kings games.

For the NFL, I think I started watching games on TV about the time Bill Walsh/Joe Montana came to the 49ers (a "local" team) and enjoyed their style of play and success. I didn't like the Raiders due to the obnoxiousness of Raider fans and the "image" they encouraged, and of course the natural local rivalry between the team fans. Largely due to cost, etc., we don't really attend any games, but catch most of them on TV.

For MLB, I wasn't really a baseball fan until a bit later (it still very much trails the above teams). I've always liked SF a lot better than Oakland (also through the 49ers), so naturally the Giants became my #1 team (I still like Oakland and root for them when it doesn't conflict with the Giants). I've seen a lot more of the local AAA team (Sacramento River Cats) than any pro team, especially live. They are fun to go see. My FIL's company helped build their stadium, the team was founded the same year I married my wife, and we occasionally got to sit in the FIL's company box seats when they had extras available, so we have a strong attraction to them. They have been pretty successful and were first affiliated with the A's but a few years ago switched to the Giants, so it's all good on that front as well. We typically go to 4-6 games/year vs <1/year for the pros. I don't watch much baseball on TV at all as it typically is on the boring side that way for me, but when the Giants make the PO I watch some to many of their games.

For NHL, I never really paid too much attention to it until the Sharks started play in the Bay Area, so they became my favorite team. Once I started paying a little attention to the sport (it's probably just a notch below the MLB for me overall, depending on team success, etc.), I also gravitated to the local minor league team (ECHL level, Stockton Thunder). A few years back they realigned some teams, etc., and the Stockton team became the AHL-level Stockton Heat. We really enjoy going to these games as well (typically 4-6 games/year), and definitely attend more than the Sharks (maybe 1/year, and only in the last couple years). Again, I don't watch many games on TV, but when the PO roll around I tune in more.
 
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Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
#28
Don't really follow baseball: what's the through line between pandas and the Giants?
Pablo Sandoval - Wikipedia

Pablo Emilio Sandoval Reyes (born August 11, 1986) is a Venezuelan-American professional baseball third baseman who is currently a free agent. He previously played for the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves. He stands 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall, and weighs 268 pounds (122 kg).[1] Nicknamed "Kung Fu Panda", Sandoval is a two-time All-Star and won three World Series championships with the Giants. He hit three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, becoming the fourth player to hit three home runs in a World Series game, leading to his being named that year's World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP). During the offseason, Sandoval plays for the Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League (VPBL).

In 2002, Sandoval was signed by the San Francisco Giants. Sandoval worked his way through the minor leagues and debuted with the Giants in 2008, batting .345 in 41 games. Capable of playing first base, third base, and catcher, he became the Giants' starting third baseman in 2009, ceasing to catch that year and playing first base only occasionally. In 2009, Sandoval finished second in All-Star Final Vote balloting, batting .330 with 25 home runs and 90 runs batted in (RBIs) in his first full season in the majors. However, Sandoval struggled in 2010 and was benched during the playoffs for the 2010 World Series, which the Giants won. He lost weight before 2011 and hit .315 with 23 home runs in 117 games. Injuries limited Sandoval to 108 games in 2012, but he was selected to his second-straight All-Star Game. Then, in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, Sandoval joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols as the only players to hit three home runs in a World Series Game. For his contributions, Sandoval was named the World Series Most Valuable Player, as the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers. In 2013, he appeared in 141 games, batting .278, with 14 home runs, and 79 RBIs.
 
#29
1. Haven’t had that experience.
2. Availability. The Kings, Giants, Niners, and Sharks were on tv. It was 50/50 between the Kings vs Warriors and the A’s vs. Giants. Think I became a Giants fan, because they were the better team when I cared about baseball. And think I became a Kings fan, because I started spending summers in Sac and kinda just followed my cousins’ passion.

While that was my experience, my son is going to have a completely different experience. He’s going to be a Niner, Giants, Sharks, and USMNT fan because we (my wife and I) are fans and plan on taking him to games early and often. Mom and I disagree on the Kings vs. GSW and Cal vs. UCLA, so we’ll see who he follows there.