Those who read the majority of my 49ers-rests-squarely-on-andy-lee">articles know me as something of a superstitious man. I will very readily admit to partaking in a good bit of traditional and not-so-traditional nonsense-based activities under the guise of improving my team's luck on the field of play.
I grow a playoff beard in support of the San Jose Sharks every spring. I also have one hat I wear during games, and another for the rest of the time.
I swap the home screen on my cell phone back and forth between a picture of a New York Yankees home and road jacket during baseball season, depending on where the team is playing.
I wear a home or road 49ers jersey every Sunday in the fall (and this year hopefully well into the winter) and have a quirky set of rules for how I wear my hat, depending on whether the team is ahead or behind in the game.
While all this admitted nonsense gives me some strange peace of mind and serves as a compulsive outlet for the tense anxiety of watching my favorite teams compete, common sense of course screams to me that none of this will ultimately affect the outcome of the game.
Much as I and every true sports fan wishes he or she could, we cannot do anything to change the outcome on the field. Tactful use of crowd noise can have some effect, but even in its most dramatic manifestations it cannot make up for a sizable contrast in talent.
Only the players on the field (and sometimes the officials) can determine the outcome of the game. As a fan, I am not part of the team. I understand that.
Unfortunately, many sports fans do not.
What is worse is the fact that the resurgence of 49ers football in recent seasons from the doldrums of the dark ages has brought about a growing number of such fans counting themselves among the 49er Faithful.
These fans are characterized by one common thread: prominent and constant use of the word "we" when referring to the team.
You will notice that I am extremely conscientious in this respect, and the only time you will ever see the word "we" appear in one of my articles or comments is in reference to the fan base, which I know that I am a part of. As a child, I would always listen to my father discuss sports, and whenever someone would use "we" when referring to their team my father's mechanical response would be "Oh, what position do you play?"
Dad had a point. Use and overuse of the word "we" is the trademark of fair-weather fans and mediocre franchises. The only place it is marginally acceptable is in college sports, where fans actually have a direct connection (usually) to the school and therefore the team.
However, no such connections exist in professional sports. Sharing a city does not make you part of the team. Such hackery should have no place with a team as great as the San Francisco 49ers.
Think about it. Fair-weather fans jump on a bandwagon and do everything they can to be part of a pre-existing group. They dress in the most outlandish outfits, they yell the loudest, and they prance about spouting off nonsense like "We're No. 1!" and "We're going all the way! This is OUR year!"
They do this to compensate for their insecurities and inadequacies as fans, belying the realities that they cannot name anyone on the roster except perhaps the biggest of stars and have not suffered with the team through the bad times, like loyal fans have.
Franchises can develop such inferiority complexes as well, and encourage such pathetic behavior among a burgeoning "fanbase" of their own making.
Case in Point: The Seattle Seahawks and the 12th Man campaign. Not even original enough to avoid a lawsuit from Texas A&M University (where fans have much more of a connection to the team and a proud history and tradition), this ridiculous ploy for fan support was the prime example of an over-hyped team pulling in a bunch of sheep who wanted nothing more than to be part of the latest trend.
They painted their faces and wore ridiculous costumes that could compete at times with Oakland's Black Hole, but unlike most Raider fans (I may not like them, but I respect their passion and loyalty) how many "Seahawk fans" in 2005 could name the coach before Mike Holmgren?
My guess? Not many.
The 2006-2007 Golden State Warriors' "We Believe" campaign was not far behind on the hack-o-meter. They went back to missing the playoffs, and you saw fewer and fewer bright yellow shirts floating around.
This is not to say that every fan who uses or has ever used "we" in such a manner is a fair-weather front-runner. There are many 49er fans who are decades in tote and tend to use this word to reflect their life-long relationship with the team. I can understand that, but the problem is there is no way to differentiate them from the types of fickle drones I just described.
Using "we" in reference to the 49ers patronizes the proud history of the team and puts them in the same category as the Seahawks or Warriors. Therefore, I implore the Faithful to stop the madness and resist the urge to say "we".
If you are a true fan, take solace in the knowledge and comfort of your loyalty. Fans like us have suffered through more than a decade of 49er football that at times has been painful to watch. It appears our loyalty may now start to finally be rewarded.
If you are new to the Faithful, learn to respect the history of this franchise and be ready to stick it out when times get tough. A team like the 49ers deserves no less.
Much as you or I would like to, we (used properly here) cannot help the 49ers score touchdowns or win games. We do not play for them and probably never will.
We should not patronize a team so great with such nonsense. As the 49ers start to taste success, more and more of this will emerge, and it is our solemn duty as fans to defend our team's honor and fight this trend.
There is no "we" in team; there should be no "we" among the 49er Faithful.
Keep the Faith!
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