Loyalty Is Dead: The Decline in Fanaticism

Xavier DavisContributor IMarch 17, 2010

There was a time growing up when I knew where each of my friends stood with each sport. Chuck was a Pistons fan, Kenny was a Celtics fan, Chuck and I were Redskins fans.  None of us jumped ship . . . ever . . . . for any reason.  I hope that stands true for my Newgate Village homies to this day.

But ask a fan nowadays about the team they support in a single sport, and you’ll likely get a litany of teams supported, with a plethora of reasons they support them.  People no longer are strong enough to stand by one team anymore.  No more loyalty to one college for all sports.  Everybody has their winner backup.  It’s saddening.

The most common statement I hear goes something like this ‘I’m a Hawks fan but the Cavaliers are my second favorite team.’  By definition, ‘favorite’ is a singular item.  By my definition of fan, there are no second favorites in the same league. That shows a new level of fairweatheredness that’s either slightly above or slight below those NBA fans who haven’t watched a game since Jordan left. 

Oddly enough, I never hear the comment ‘I’m a Browns fan but the Bills are my second favorite team.’  You know why I don’t hear that kind of statement?  Because these so called fans never seem to pick a mediocre or outright bad team as their second favorite.

It really goes to the desire for today’s fans to be associated with a winner.  Sports no longer hold that passion of my youth with the new generation of fans. From my teens up until my kids were born, if the Lakers, Redskins, or Hokies lost, the day and quite possibly the weekend were done. 


I felt it personally. I cared and loved that much.  I didn’t rely on a second team.  I didn’t support a player that didn’t run with my squad.  Ask my friends what I said about Shaquille O’Neal once he left the Lakers.  In a nutshell, it was nothing nice.

What happened to those fans that felt the game?  That weren’t afraid to lose?  That realized losing builds passion?  I actually have a friend who attended Virginia Tech but cheers for Duke basketball.  Her justification is that the Hokies have never been that good in basketball.  Besides berating her as a traitor, I should have asked her what happens if the basketball team runs into the good fortune that the once hapless football team did 17 years ago?  Would she forsake Duke basketball?  I doubt it . . . .sadly, I doubt it.

I have another friend who became a die-hard Falcons fan once they started winning.  He says he refused to support an organization in the state the organization was formerly in.  I’m a Redskins fan.  I support a team with an owner that has absolutely nothing to put on his mantelpiece in terms of achievement since he’s owned the team. Blunder after blunder after blunder….still no excuse to jump ship…..

I just don’t get it I guess.  Do these people also have second favorite wives?  I mean sports for me is about loyalty, about trust in the organization, about a love of the history of an organization.  Does any of that count for anything anymore?