Do You Have to Support Your Local Team?

Alexander LeeContributor INovember 7, 2008

It doesn't matter if you’re a NFL fan, hockey fan or a soccer fan; you support the club you’re nearest to geographically, right?

No, of course not—sports is about identity and association, passion and history, excitement and drive.

Being a Manchester United fan and having not been born within a ten mile radius of the stadium, some would have you believe you are a “glory hunter” with no association to the club, but in reality you can support who you want, that is the beauty of sports.

Soccer fans often support teams because of the style they play in, younger Arsenal supporters will have only grown-up with Arsene Wenger’s possession game and follow them for the sheer appreciation of their game, older fans will have enjoyed the defensive solidarity of George Graham and his teams.

Fans will always find the club for them, whether it is by geography, style, history or a combination of those and many other factors.

If we take United as the example, the Munich air disaster in 1958 was a tragic incident in the club's illustrious past, but following that cold February afternoon, United as a club became Britain’s darlings. 

The days following the disaster led to mourning and compassion throughout a nation feeling the loss of so many great footballers and, more importantly, great people. 

With this came an identity that has never left the club, not only had United been the first club to take part in European football from the UK, but through a horrendous accident, become the first club to export its romance to the shores of Europe.

United started to rebuild under Matt Busby, reaching the pinnacle of his career after defeating Benfica in 1968 to claim the European Cup, but along with the “Busby Babes", United had gained a following that was to stay with them to this day.

Some would say their brilliant marketing department, or their dominance of the Premier League, under Alex Ferguson, over the last 15 years is the reason for support stretching from the famous Stretford End to the bars dotted around New York.

To argue “Glory Hunting” is the sole reason is just an arrogant assumption on the part of that person, look at Liverpool; they gained fans throughout the world after winning five European cups, but also through another dark day in English football—Hillsborough.

Should we all measure support by measuring distance to our club's location? If so every UK NFL fan would support the Patriots. I for one support the Seahawks, Why? I really enjoy the fans intensity and the passion the defense plays with (albeit less so this year).

I would never argue that success plays no part in the number of fans a team has throughout the world, it simple does, however it is not the only reason, and it never will be.

Remember, if we all followed the same team, we wouldn’t have a game at all.