13 May 2005

Team Loyalty

Over on Nasty Nats, Rocket has a great post on what the Nats mean to him, and how he became a Nationals fan. It's an interesting topic. Obviously, I am a DCU fan, but the why, the how. Why does the red and black have a dedicated fan base, while the Metros (in a city that must have tons of soccer fans) seem so paltry? I'm not sure how team loyalty works.

For a long time, my foremost loyalty was to the Washington Capitals. Then came the Stanley Cup run of 97, during which I was over at my fiance's apartment (she had cable, I didn't) watching hockey, and I saw Dale Hunter grab the Eastern Conference Trophy over his head, and somehow it ended for me. These were the people I rooted for growing up, the players that really meant something to me from elementary school onward. I had cheered for Langway, Scott Stevens (when he was a Cap), Pete Peters, Dino, Michael Pivonka, and definitely Hunter. And now we finally made the Cup, and even though the Caps didn't win, it was enough. It meant something to a kid who never saw his team get out of the Patrick division (except once, and then getting swept by the Bruins). And while I still am a Caps fan, somehow there was a narrative resolution on my childhood that was finished, and hockey became busy with shooting itself in the foot.

Somehow, DC United, under Bruce Arena, crept into that space for me. I grew up in the DC Area, but now lived in another city. And while I was becoming fond of that city's NFL franchise, and even, to some degree, its MLB team, it didn't have MLS. And I loved watching soccer, so DCU moved into my consciousness. Strangely, it was the Hudson years that cemented DCU as #1 in my heart. Here was a team with a glorious tradition, and a charismatic head coach, and they were struggling. But I felt like they came to play, that the players were really trying. And so when I returned to DC, and two years later they won a championship, it mattered. Yet somehow the story didn't end there, like it did with the Caps. Because there is more of a narrative thread to soccer. A championship opens doors, into the CONCACAF Champs cup or whatever. There were so many interesting players for DCU, a coach in his sophomore season, a league that must have wondered what happened to the WUSA and could it happen to them. The story goes on.

Anyways, for those that are curious (and I'm pretty sure I am writing to no one) here are my Sports Affiliations:
MLS: DC United
MLB: Washington Nationals (formerly Baltimore Orioles)
NFL-NFC: Washington Redskins
NFL-AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets
NBA: (eh, maybe the Wizards)
College Sports: Maryland (not where I went to school, but I went to a Div III school)