Boston: The Best of Fans, The Worst of Fans

Max KienzlerAnalyst IJuly 5, 2009

Super Bowl XXXVI.

The St. Louis Rams and their vaunted offense squared off with the New England Patriots and their surprise run to the Super Bowl.

I was cheering for the Rams the whole playoffs (since the Bears didn't make the playoffs...again) because I still thought Kurt Warner was a great story. I loved Isaac Bruce. I believed Marshall Faulk was an incredible running back and it blew my mind the Colts just let him walk away.

I thought there was no way the Rams were not walking away without the trophy and expected to cheer them on throughout the whole game.

Then something interesting happened after the Rams starting line-up was introduced.

The Patriots ran out, together.

No single player making mock poses and getting jacked up (ala Ray Lewis), they just showed a team unity that I had never really witnessed on a professional level.

By the time Adam Vinatieri booted in the winning field goal, I was pulling for the Pats. I thought they deserved to win that game and considered it one of the best Super Bowls of my lifetime.

In October of 2004, the Boston Red Sox were in the midst of a historic comeback against their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, in Game Four of the ALCS. As everyone knows, they won that series and the World Series by reeling off eight straight wins. 

It was heart wrenching. It was intense. It caused blood pressure averages to rise over 50 percent in most of the United States. And it was nothing short of incredible.

And I was there cheering them on, hoping that after 80-plus years of misery, the Sox would actually break The Curse.

What is more—I won't lie to you, after the Yanks won Game Three by the score of 19-8, I thought the Sox were toast. No one had ever (or ever since) come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series.

But boy was I wrong. I watched every game of the Yankees/Red Sox series and it is something I will tell my kids about when I am an old and wrinkled man.

And despite having no vested interest in either team, I still remember the players that were on the squad who have since departed: Damon, Manny, Lowe, Mueller, Nixon, Millar, Pedro, Schilling, Bellhorn, Roberts. It was the single greatest baseball story in the past 50 years, if not ever.

August 2008, the Boston Celtics complete the trade for power forward and future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.

I love Garnett. His intensity, his hustle, his game. He is one of my favorite players of all time. And for him to get the chance to win an NBA Title, something he deserved as much as anyone has, I had to root for the Celtics come playoff time (It didn't hurt that I am an anti-Cavs supporter).

Their seven-game series win against the Hawks. Their seven-game series win against Cleveland. The six-game heavyweight brawl with the Pistons. And then finally, the 2008 NBA title victory.

Garnett earned it. Allen earned it. Pierce earned it.

No questions.

Despite my support during these three title runs, I now find myself cheering against these teams, really no matter who they are facing (a few exceptions being if the opponents are the Packers, the Yankees, or the Cavs). And I found myself asking, why?

Why did my view change? I do not dislike any players on any of the teams really. In fact, there are players I enjoy watching, so why do I end up cheering for their opponents nearly every time?

The answer, I realized, was simple. Roughly five out of 10 Boston (and greater New England area) fans I meet are so obnoxious when it comes to sports that it makes watching a game with them unbearable.

Now before you jump all over me, let me make a few things clear...

I am not saying that they are poor fans. Red Sox fans in fact are some of the most dedicated in not just the MLB, but in all sports. And many Patriot fans are extremely smart when it comes to the ins and outs of football.

I am not saying ALL of their fans are obnoxious. I said roughly five out of 10. Just about half of all their fans I meet.

And I am not claiming other teams' fan are better behaved. All teams have fans that other fans are not proud of. But to me personally, it just seems like this fan base has more than the rest.

But the attitude that comes with the Boston fans I am referring to, whether it is when their teams win or when they lose, is awful.

When they lose, it is all about how they had a bad day or how the officials screwed them and it is never their own fault (or in the case of the Celtics when they were bad, many fans just chose to ignore the team).

When they win, all I hear is a lot of talk about how it is no surprise they won and how they are the greatest franchise and greatest sports city in the world. And how they do not understand how people cannot root for their teams because they are obviously so much more superior than everyone else.

But the worst is when they apologize to me for not being born into the Red Sox (or Celtic or Patriot) Nation.

Listen, I am happy for you that your team won. It is a great feeling personally when the team you follow religiously succeeds (I know, I have been close a couple times). But don't give me that crap about how unfortunate it is I wasn't born to follow your team.

Every fan thinks that their team is the best team out there. And many will argue until they are blue in the face, but most can appreciate, and more importantly understand, that there is no correct answer; that it varies from fan-to-fan, team-to-team, sport-to-sport.

But it doesn't appear that way for these Boston fans. They get legitimately angry when I tell them that I love the Bears (or the Mets or the Bulls) and am not depressed since I don't follow their teams.

And what is more, when I talk with a Boston fan about sports, many become condescending. It seems like they walk around with a sense of entitlement because their teams are winning.

And I guess that's fair to some degree. The Pats have three Super Bowls, the Sox have two World Series, and the Celtics have a championship—all in the past six years—so they do have the right to be proud and boast about their team's success.

But just because their team wins does not give them the right to sit there and pretend they know everything about sports. And it also doesn't mean that everything in sports revolves around their city.

Do some Boston fans know more about sports than me?

Without a doubt.

Do I know more about sports than some other Boston fans?

You betcha. But I don't walk around like I am better than everyone else.

And maybe it is just because the Boston/New England teams have such solid fan bases that it seems worse because you find so many of their fans outside of the New England area.

And some of them are just those people who jump on the winning bandwagon every year so they can feel like winners. Only problem is the fact they stay on that bandwagon while the team stays good. Since the New England area teams are in the upper tier in the three (four, including hockey) major sports in the U.S., there are more than a few posers who place themselves in the fanhood circle.

And that is sad because it reflects badly on the real crazed fanatics that live and die with each win and loss the Red Sox go through. Or the true Patriot loyalists who hope every home game is a snow storm with frozen turf. Or the many Celtic followers who act like they are celebrating St. Patrick's Day 82 times a year (more when they make the playoffs).

While I don't care for half of them due to their obnoxious attitude, I have no problem admitting they, the real fans, are some of the most loyal fans in the U.S.

But the Celtics...first let me say the Celtics do have a good fan base. Loyal, knowledgeable, and are green through and through.

That said, there are fewer die-hards than one would expect. And I think I understand why.

My theory is that when the Celts went through some miserable years in between the Pierce/Walker days and the 2008 team, there were other teams in the area that were far more successful and enjoyable to watch (Pats, Sox, BC) so some of their fans became less and less interested in the goings-on in the world of basketball.

I say this because many of the Patriot and Red Sox fans I know never really said much when it came to basketball season.

That was until the Garnett trade.

Then all of the sudden they put the Celtics in there with the Sox and Pats and claim to be die hard fans.

And I guess some are, but then my buddy came up with two questions to spot a fake:

1: Who did the Celtics trade to the Timberwolves to get Garnett?

(Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair. Plus a conditional first round pick, but we settled for just the players.)

2: Who has scored the most points in Celtic history?

(John Havlicek)

Now we tested this theory at a local Irish pub during the Celtics' playoff run this year, figuring it would be the best place to find a group of them.

If they got both questions correct, then we gave them props. The second questions is a little trickier for the younger fans, so it might be excusable, but if they miss the first question, then they didn't suffer through those years of hardship.

If you don't stay by your team in the bad times as well as the good, you aren't die-hard (there were quite a few who missed both questions and took great offense at us for asking).

And for the record, this article doesn't come from some angry Laker or Colt or Yankee fan. This doesn't come from a jealous hater. The Boston area teams haven't faced the Bears or the Cubs/Mets in any postseason that I have been alive for (I was born a month after the Bears won Super Bowl XX).

And sure, the Celtics beat the Bulls in the playoffs this year, but that was one of the all time great series and I can honestly admit that the Celtics were the better team and deserved to win.

I hold no hard feelings there. It was just so much fun to watch.

So let me say that the New England-area fans are some of the more fanatical found this side of the Atlantic when it comes to sports. But respecting some of them (AGAIN, not all of their fans are like this) is very difficult considering their attitude.


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