You’re sitting at the ballgame with some friends, or you’re watching it on TV at a bar or a friend’s house. It’s a crucial moment in the game, and your friend innocently says, “Man, we need a hit right now,” or “We have to stop this third-down play.”
Say what? We need a hit? Are you on the team?
Some people feel that being a fan entitles them to speak inclusively of their team, while others disagree. How do you feel? Let’s take a look at the argument for saying “we” in reference to a team that you support.
The “we” fans think of themselves as part of the team. In their minds, their contribution to the winning effort is their steadfast support.
This is particularly true of NFL fans. With faces painted and brains inebriated, these fans take to the stadiums to vocalize support for their favorite 53-man band of warriors. The fans change the game, after all. Why else would teams need a silent count?
Fans are technically minority owners with their purchase of tickets and merchandise. “We” fans can also argue that they were fans of the team long before the current players and coaches were there, and they will be fans long after they’re gone.
Why do we do this with sports teams, though? What makes us identify so heavily with them? As some have said, all we are really rooting for is laundry. With free agency in pro sports, and early defections and transfers in college athletics, the only constant remains the uniforms.
I don’t personally use the word “we” very much in terms of sports teams. Even though that’s the case, I don’t think this practice should be totally looked down upon. What we need are some rules.
1. You may say “we” for any institution that you attended.
Your high school and your college both count as “we,” regardless if you played for them or not. The teams represent the school and the alumni.
2. You may use “we” for professional teams as long as it’s in a fan environment.
At the bar or at the game, it’s okay to call them “we” when you’re with your friends. Please, though, stop using it when calling in on sports talk shows or in any circumstance speaking with somebody who is actually on the team. Telling a player after a loss, “We really should have won that one,” makes you look like a fool.
3. You cannot call more than one team per sport “We.”
So your team missed the playoffs. While that’s too bad, we cannot have you jump on the bandwagon of some other team who did make it. I don’t care how many T-shirts you buy or how many games you claim to have watched of your mistress team during the season, it’s not acceptable.
Hopefully these rules help. While this isn’t a practice I necessarily condone, because of the ease with which people can go overboard, I still think fans have some right to refer to themselves as part of the team.