Connecticut has an identity crisis.
No, I’m not talking about the political divide or some sort of rich/poor balance, I’m talking about professional sports.
Many feel jilted that the state can’t have its own team—I say we should feel lucky to be able to call a multitude of teams our very own. We are caught in the middle; some of us with the YES Network beg for NESN, while some with NESN beg for the CSN, while the rest couldn’t even begin to decipher the acronym.
The imaginary line that runs around Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven Counties does more than just divide the Nutmeg State between the Tri-State area and New England—it divides our allegiances. It dictates what early February party we might be invited to, or whether we have any friends come the month of October.
This past Sunday drew the Mason-Dixon line of Super Bowls, the Olympics of obligatory fanhood—this was the year you took sides. There was no more sitting on the fence, this year it was either Pats or Gints, red or blue, revolutionary or imaginary.
Well, unless you find yourself as one of those unfortunate Jets fans.
These two teams may have met four years ago, but while that meeting was the impetus for the regional collision this past Sunday, it did not carry the intensity, drama or state-splitting, tectonic-plate worthy noise as No. 46.
Roma in New Britain took full advantage. They even went so far as to split the bar in half. They allowed in Patriots fans on one side, Giants fans on the other. Your allegiances could be distinguished by the color of your tablecloth.
The bar also felt the need to have a police officer on hand to diffuse any and all overly boisterous behavior—but it was unnecessary.
Former New Britain mayor Tim Stewart said it best when he spoke to Hartford Courant reporter Matthew Conyers, who covered the event from the bar.
“This is a serious rivalry,” Stewart said. “You have two of the best quarterbacks. It’s the real deal. … It is good for football and good for sports.”
Well said, Tim, but I’ll take you one further—it was a shot in the arm for a state that is unable to draw its own sports franchise.
As fulfilling as the Giants 21-17 win was for so many, it was equally devastating for so many more. But out of the rubble caused by a football game in Indianapolis, a thriving rivalry will emerge as so many have before it.
The New York Giants/New England Patriots rivalry is truly just beginning—Connecticut is the battleground, with each game claiming another inch toward the epicenter of the conflict.
This is what Connecticut is, and this is what Connecticut needs to embrace.
So far, so good.