WHO DO YOU ROOT FOR?
I am fascinated by this question. Especially in a 2015 sports culture that includes individual domination in the NBA, the now mainstream fantasy leagues, both season and daily, and the ever-present traditional norm, the question, “who do you root for?” has never had a more complex answer.
The answer to that question also says a lot about you as a fan and to some extent what your values are as a person. As a member of the media in college, who attended the same university whose teams I covered simultaneously, I quickly went from student-section fan to all-too objective press box dweller. I did my utmost to separate myself from fandom. Since moving to Kansas City, I have learned, most fans, especially in this market, not only expect media to be biased, but they expect media to be just as biased as they are FOR the teams they like and ENTIRELY OBJECTIVE (by their definition) for the teams they don’t. I separate my analysis from my fandom. I have to, one is my job and the other is my entertainment. But talking about the game vs. talking about the people that play it is often a gray area.
It is true, no one can escape bias, you will eventually root for the teams or players you cover on some level. I personally have found a compromise to this dilemma. I root for people, not for teams. I have one exception, the United States Men’s National Team in World Cup soccer. I am an american… I root for the people I meet and like. They aren’t always the most talented, but they are the ones I want to see succeed.
I’ll never forget the 2012 Chiefs season, for mostly bad reasons, but the one thing I will always remember is when I had the realization, as a member of the media and as a fan of sports, I started rooting for people and not for teams. I had an opportunity to interview Brady Quinn on a weekly basis, one-on-one and through these conversations and the meetings we had off the air I got to know him as a person. So, when he gave an impassioned speech after the Chiefs beat the Carolina Panthers just a day after Jovan Belcher committed murder-suicide, I was not in the least bit surprised at his composure or compassion. I knew that was who he was. We had talked about his charity and many other notable things he was involved in. I knew the guy everyone saw give that speech after the game was a person I saw when the cameras were off. I respected that. I secretly wished Quinn was more talented and had been given a much better chance to succeed in a league that spits players out as fast as they gobble them up, because he’s the kind of guy you want to see “win.”
At the end of the day, teams are a t-shirts. T-shirts and stadiums and arenas and money and symbols. The people who wear them, build them, sustain them and give them meaning are where I’ve found the answer to that question. My desire to see Arkansas my school, even the USMNT my country, succeed is a part of my entertainment, and I enjoy it. But my passion to see the players that make them up succeed because they deserve it is where I find my fandom.
Rooting for Bill Snyder or Kim Anderson or Bill Self or Jamaal Charles or Greg Holland? There are a million reasons to do it. Real tangible reasons. But, the next time someone asks you, “who do you root for?” really think about it. Because your TEAM is only as good as the people who make it up. Try not to confuse analysis with fandom. The two don’t really go together. When it comes to fandom, I choose to enjoy sports through the people that play it, not the clothing they wear.
I've long tried to understand why baseball fans are so defensive of their teams. Much more so than other fans in other sports. All fans are defensive on some level, but its just different in baseball.
In the NFL, criticism is not only welcome, its often expected from the media and fans. Fans want wins, plain and simple. In college sports, fans are defensive, allegiance is a huge part of the fan culture, lines are drawn, but at the end of the day, most fan bases know their roles in the hierarchy of what college sports are. Kansas State relishes being disrespected, Mizzou fans expect things to go wrong in the big moments, Kansas fans, walk around in their own little world of Jayhawk supremacy.
Baseball is different. It isnt about allegiance, it isnt about popularity or hierarchy or even wins. Its a local, cultural, familial bond. The one thing baseball has that no other sport has, is the exclusive attention of fans every day for 4 months out of the year. To fall in love, you need prolonged intense contact. Baseball has that with its fans, and it creates this bond with a team that is more familial than any in sports.
If you have children or siblings, you understand this: no one is allowed to take shots at your family, but you. When your kids are on the big stage, they can do no wrong, we all have soft spots for our own. If your little Charlie misspells balloon at the spelling bee, its not him, its the system, they didnt go over that in class! How is he supposed to know that word!
We protect our own. The Royals the Royals are Kansas Citys own. The Chiefs arent playing games everyday for four straight months. When I criticized Mike Moustakas for being a poor hitter earlier this season, youd have thought I said Kansas Citys child was a bad speller. Lets forget his slash line this season was .212/.271/.361, thats my player! Its not his fault! was the reaction.
There is something myopic and nonsensical about defending players blindly because of the color jersey a player wears. But theres also often myopic and nonsensical about love. Kansas City is in love with the Royals. Theyve stuck by them for 30 years. I can finally say, I get it.
Its why when I hear people say, Its a great time to be a sports fan in Kansas City, which Ive heard a lot on our post game shows the last few weeks. My response is this: Yes it is, but lets not lose sight of what this is really all about. The Chiefs are doing great, Sporting KC has done so well recently and K-State, Mizzou and KU all have things to be happy about recently, but lets not lose sight of what the Royals are doing. This time is about the ROYALS. Its a great time to be a Royals fan. Whats happening with them is uniquely Royal and uniquely Kansas City.
You can have great passionate relationships with any team, but with the Royals it is different for so many reasons, not just the bond, but what that bond represents because of 30 years of losing, because of turmoil, because of the constant reminder their failure is your burden as a fan, because you never left.
It is a great time to be a sports fan in Kansas City, but this about the Royals. Let this be THEIR moment. Let it be yours.
Its not hyperbole long before the HUNH offense, Bill Snyder revolutionized the way undersized programs recruit, scheme and attack traditional powerhouses.
He turned upsets into expectations. He did it with unique strategies and a new way of thinking. After 30 years, opposing coaches still cant figure out him and his Kansas State Wildcats. Which is what makes this Thursday nights game against Auburn so much more intriguing.
Similarly, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn marches to the beat of his own drummer. Hes often called an offensive genius. Is it hyperbole?
I dont know, but its hard to argue with the results.
What I do know is Auburn at Kansas State will be the best coaching match-up of the 2014 college football season.
Perhaps Malzhans most valuable coaching attribute is that he has no tendencies as a play-caller. He is unique in this regard.
Everyone has tendencies but not Malzahn. His system allows plays that acutely attack the weakness of each specific defense.
In a different way, Snyder has been equally as effective; there is no better coach at finding and exploiting the tendencies/weaknesses of an opponents. Malzahn the master of surprise, Snyder the master of attack.
Thursday isnt Ali and Liston its Byrne and Fischer. (HERE - [hperlink - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
For a football junkie, this the match-up you dream about. One you circle on the calendar and remember forever all the more so given Snyders age.
Hes one of the best coaches in college football history in part because he turned a perennial doormat into a champion out of nothing but cunning and guile. And he did it twice!
Malzahn is perhaps the hottest young coach in the game today the star of the hour. Not simply because hes been successful everywhere hes parked his bus on every level in every way, although he has.
Rather, it is because hes done it without a noticeable blueprint.
He sees situations, assesses them, finds the solution, and then coaches up his players on who to execute it.
Both Malzahn and Snyder are remarkably good at solving problems and adapting to adverse circumstances, and both win at an elite level. So, which one wins on Thursday the young upstart wizard or the crafty master?
One things for certain I wouldnt miss this for anything.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.