We all have fandoms. How did we get here? Here are my stories. Please share yours below.
I grew up in the Quad Cities (on the Mississippi river between Chicago and Des Moines. Rock Island and Moline Illinois, Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa) in the 60’s and 70’s, which was basically equidistant from Chicago and St. Louis. Both teams had local TV and radio coverage. Pick a side. My dad was a diehard Cardinals fan. I still have his signed Cardinals baseball, with Stan Musial’s signature. For his birthday, I bought him a photo of old Busch stadium with a vial of dirt from the stadium that I also still have. I have video of family trips to the old Busch stadium when I was maybe 5.
Because children are assholes, I became a Cubs fan. I was assisted by my grandmother (my dad’s mom) who was a huge Cubs fan. This makes me think he became a Cardinals fan for the same reason I became a Cubs fan. Again, children are assholes.
However, he decided not to leave me in a cardboard box under a bridge. He had friends that were Cubs fans. Also, the drive to Wrigley was much easier than the drive to Busch. My first memory of major league baseball is very specific.
My dad had a friend who was a huge Cubs fan. I would grab my hat and my glove. We would get in the car on a Saturday morning around 7am. The drive to Chicago was 3 hours. We would pick up my dad’s friend and get on the interstate. We would drive to O’Hare and find a parking space near the L station. When we got on, the train was fairly empty. As we moved closer to the city, more and more Cubs fans would get on the train. It was almost like watching a tsunami. Once we reached the Loop, we changed to the Red line that went to Wrigley. More and more Cubs fans climb on.
The walk from the Addison St station to the stadium was mind-blowing. First the City warned you to watch for pickpockets. Then you got on the street and there were souvenir vendors every 5 feet. Being my dad, we never bought anything. I don’t remember drunken idiots, but I assume they were there also. It is one block to Wrigley Field. Imagine being 8 years old. Walking up through a tunnel to your seat. Hat on your head and glove on your hand. You reach the end of the tunnel and see Wrigley Field live for the first time. Red dirt. Green grass. Ivy on a brick wall. This is why I got a tattoo when we won the World Series. This is why my wife has been instructed to sneak my ashes into the bleachers and pour them into the ivy when I die.
Much less romantic. I have a complete lack of athletic ability. This is my story: When I was 8, I wanted to be as good a shortstop as Don Kessinger. By the time I was 10, I was. When I was 12, I wanted to be as good a quarterback as Bob Avellini. By the time I was 14, I was. This stunted my growth as an elite athlete. I spent 1 very disappointing year playing tight end and cornerback in Pop Warner (insert joke here). Clearly, when I was a kid, all Chicago teams were gigantic buckets of shit. However, the Bears were the only choice to follow due to NFL regional rules (and the Cardinals sucked even more ass).
When I was working at my first job out of college, they had a talent show for some reason. My two major memories are a coworker who could play blues on a double-necked guitar and a magician who was so nervous he vomited on stage. This was also after the 85 Bears won the Superb Owl. So, a group of us rewrote the lyrics of the Shuffling Crew to reflect on the horrors of being a junior engineer at a defense contractor. We were the “Bendix Shuffling Crew”. It was horrific. I loaned one of my jerseys to a female engineer hoping to . . . . It didn’t work.
While living in Southern California, I went to a number of Rams games. This was when they were in Anaheim and actually good. However, I am of the opinion that you can never really move on from your first fan team, however tempting it may be.
This is possibly the saddest story. My family moved to Phoenix in 1975. This was the peak of the Phoenix Suns franchise to this day. Alvan Adams, Paul Westphal, Dick VanArsdale, Gar Heard. My sister and I actually attended the Adams/Westphal basketball camp one summer. I went to my only professional playoff game the year they went to the finals against the Celtics. While in Phoenix, I played my only high school sport, basketball at Brophy Prep. I sucked ass.
We eventually moved to Southern California. This was full Showtime era. This is also when they stopped calling traveling. I stopped watching the NBA and have never watched a game on purpose since.
As I mentioned, Chicago teams when I was a kid were shit. I never even registered hockey in my brain. After college in 1985, I started watching hockey since I moved to the San Fernando Valley for my new job and my college girlfriend had broken up with me when I moved and I had nothing else to do. Well, hands-free anyway. Hockey I could watch while doing homework. The other, not so much. I became an LA Kings fan (this will be important later).
Forward to May 6th, 1988 Devils-Bruins. Devils coach confronts referee and yells at him “You’re crazy,” yells the coach. “You fell, you fat pig. Have another donut! Have another donut!” So much fun, so much hockey! Forward to August 9th, 1988. Wayne Gretzky is traded to the LA Kings to a soon-to-be convicted felon owner. There is a certain division between pre- and post-Gretzky Kings fans. I cling desperately to the pre-Gretzky faction. We bought 1/8 of a season ticket package the year they first went to the Stanley Cup finals, but we moved to Wisconsin before we could attend any playoff games.
When we moved back to California, the Ducks had arrived. We lived about 8 miles from the Pond, so we went to lots of games. Again, your first fan team will always be first, no matter what. I will claim Ducks successes, but Kings successes mean more to me. Which also means I am struggling with the current playoff schedule. Just sucking it up and cheering for the Hawks.
I don’t exactly remember when I started watching Premier League on NBCSN. What I do remember is an episode which would help you to choose a PL team based on your US team preferences. Based on my primary Cubs fandom, the show recommended that Arsenal would be my best fit. So, here I am. If I had known who the owner was, I would have chosen differently. Stan Kroenke is a pile of excrement topped with a bad toupee. However, I have significant sunk cost in jerseys to consider. Plus, I love the word “Goooners”.
(There is a complete lack of hot GWS fans on the intertubes)
GD, so many post-college stories. Back in the mid 80’s, ESPN would show AFL games around bar-time in California. So, when I got home from failing to convince a young lady to return with me to my humble abode, (which, honestly, was every weekend) I had nothing to do but watch ESPN. This was my introduction to the AFL.
Many, many years later, I worked for a multinational corporation with a significant presence in Sydney. I actually traveled to Sydney for work for a full week. Actual Australians are much less friendly than the Crocodile Dundee movies would lead you to believe. I decided that, if it was ever possible to see an AFL game in person, it would have to be in Sydney. Because I am a contrarian asshole, I decided to pick the Greater Western Sydney Giants over the Sydney Swans. I bought an international membership and I watch as many games as I can. Then I quit that job and will probably never travel to Sydney again.