Robert Krulwich writes about how we become fans of the teams that we love. Based upon the research, it tends to be a love instilled upon us primarily by our fathers.
This video demonstrates this fact beautifully, if not a little cruelly.
My father and my step-father were not sports fans. Neither ever spoke a word about sports to me, nor did either one ever play a single sport with me. I am an outlier when it comes to the research cited by Krulwich. My undying love for certain teams came through means other than my fathers.
In general, my love for sports teams tends to be geographic in nature.
The Patriots were the only football team on television each week (when they weren’t blacked out due to poor attendance), so my obsessive infatuation with the team (I’m a season ticket holder) was born from indoctrination based upon exclusivity.
The Patriots were all I had in terms of football, so I loved them with all my soul.
I also love an underdog, and in the 1970s and 1980s, the Patriots were consistent underdogs. Even when they were good, they lost.
My love for the Bruins was similar in nature. Channel 38 in Boston broadcasted grainy footage of most of the games throughout the 1980s, but in Boston, a love for the Bruins was also expected.
If you were living in the Boston area, it was highly recommended that you root for the Patriots, the Red Sox and the Celtics, but when it came to the Bruins, you had no choice. Bruins fans are an angry, violent, often drunk bunch of young men. To profess your love for the Rangers or the Red Wings at the time would have risked a genuine beating.
I had no choice but to love the Bruins.
But Ray Bourque and Cam Neely were playing for the team at the time, so they weren’t too hard to love.
My love for the Celtics is credited to my mother. She was an insatiable Celtics fan. I would often fall asleep to the sounds of her swearing at the television when things weren’t going well. My mother lived and died with every basket of the season, and she cried like a baby when they won the championship in 1986.
You also can’t underestimate the enormity of the Celtics in the Boston area in the 1980s. The Celtics ruled the sports landscape at the time. I remember marching in a Memorial Day parade on the same day that the Celtics were playing in a playoff game against the Pistons. In order to keep us abreast of the score during the game, two students armed with transistor radios were charged with listening to the game and moving through the rows of musicians, relaying updated scores as often as possible.
There was nothing bigger in the Boston area in the 1980s than the Celtics. Falling in love with them was a no-brainer.
And then there is my love for New York Yankees, which is credited to my brother.
My brother loved the Boston Red Sox more than anything else in the world.
I did not like my brother.
Therefore, I liked the Yankees.
Conveniently, the Yankees games were broadcast on Channel 11 out of New York, which I was able to pick up on the UHF band on most nights. I grew up listening to the late Phil Rizzuto describe the heroics of players like Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph and the great Don Mattingly.
What admittedly started out as spite eventually transformed into pure, unadulterated love.
Has there ever been a better love story?