Sports Fans East, West, and Middle: One Man's View
Having now lived in three of the best cities in America (if I do say so myself), I thought I would offer my thoughts on how fans in these three locales compare: Boston, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm going to go in reverse order and finish with the one I think I know best, Boston, which is where I grew up and currently reside. So let's start on the West Coast...
San Francisco, as those of you who have been there well know, is a wonderful place. Good history, interesting neighborhoods, great arts and culture, and, home to six professional sports franchises: Giants, A's, 49ers, Raiders, Warriors, and, I'm including the San Jose Sharks, as they are generally recognized as part of the Bay Area Sports Scene, and are covered by the SF newspapers.
I happened to move to San Francisco right when the Warriors were in the midst of their miraculous upset of the Mavericks during the 2007 NBA playoffs. I was quite impressed with the fervor and emotion displayed by the Warriors fans I came across.
But overall, my feeling was that Bay Area fans—and I know I'm going to get killed for this by you locals—were fairweather. To be fair, their teams haven't seen a great amount of success in the past decade or so. Sure, the Raiders made a Super Bowl and the Giants made the World series, but on the whole, not a great run as of late.
And honestly, there is so much to do in and around the Bay Area and so many beautiful places to see—why would you commit a large percentage of your time to watching your mediocre teams on the tube, when you have a multitude of other options right outside your doorstep?
It also doesn't help the sports scene that such a large portion of the population happens to be hippies. Let's be honest—I mean, I love myself a hippie as much as the next person, but they tend not to be rabid sports nuts.
I'm sure there are some died-in-the-wool fans that I missed, as there are everywhere, but again, this is just one outsider's view. (Although I'd like to point out that the Connecticut Yankee in Potrero Hill is an excellent Red Sox bar).
On to Chicago. Chicago fans are among the finest I've seen. Now, you might suspect I'm writing this because Chicago fans might threaten me with death if I didn't. But it happens to be the truth. I lived in Chicago when the Red Sox finally won it all in 2004, and it was awesome to see Cubs fans cheering on my Sox, because they knew all too well the pain we'd been through. I only hope the Cubbies can get one of their own, real soon.
Anyway, Chicago has the blue-collar roots that I believe a true sports town needs. Too many yuppies at a game in luxury boxes wearing suits and ties brings in money, but when you're worried about spilling chardonnay on your new tie, you simply can't cheer with the same intensity.
Bears and Sox fans are among the most passionate I've ever observed. And during the winter, you don't want to go outside, so Bulls and Bears fans follow their teams intensely. Plus, all the sports franchises in this town have great histories stretching way back, which makes the fan base that much stronger. Throw in a couple of classic sports venues (Wrigley and Soldier Field), and you've got yourself a class A sports city with class A fans.
Finally, on to Boston, my hometown, where I was born and bred. So yes, I'm biased. We've got many similarities to Chicago. But I would have to argue that Boston fans are the finest. There's a reason that they call it "Red Sox Nation."
I will admit that the intellectual snobbery that you often find in and around Boston doesn't help us, but those folks are far outnumbered by the lifelong crazies, those of the sort who name their newborns after local heroes or cry at the sight of their team finally bringing home a championship.
There are countless third-graders in Boston who could cite you Youk's batting average on a given Wednesday during the season, could provide you with a list of the most likely reason's for Papi's slump, or could detail Tom Brady's knee injury and the subsequent staph infection that followed.
When you're born here, the teams are just in your blood. That's the way it is.
Let me reiterate that this is just one, admittedly biased, fan's opinion. What can I say, Maybe it's that Dirty Water...
P.S. Why Tom Brady in the photo? Well, for one, like any good New Englander knows, he is God. And secondly, he grew up in California (West), played at Michigan (Midwest), and now plays in New England (East).
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