In Defense of Frontrunning

Actually enjoying sports is one approach.

"Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify. Because the players are always changing, the team could move to another city…you’re actually rooting for the clothes, when you get right down to it. You’re standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player, but if he goes to another team, they’ll boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt, they hate him now! Boo! Different shirt! Boo…"

— Jerry Seinfeld

I have the terrible misfortune of being consistently loyal to the concept of a city. I’m not even loyal to the actual city! I root for the sports teams of a city because I was born in it 37 years ago, and I haven’t lived within the borders of that city for over two decades. Have those teams rewarded my loyalty?

Well, let’s see.

No. You know that. We already covered that in an episode.

Why couldn’t I just be happy, though? Why couldn’t I just root for anyone?

Sometimes I get annoyed when I see how many kids wear Golden State Warriors gear where I live, 2000 miles away from the Bay Area, conveniently ignoring that short but real phase in elementary school where I definitely had several Dallas Cowboys sweatshirts. 

If you’re a kid, though, what makes more sense? Rooting for the physically-nearest team to you (in this case, the Indiana Pacers, who are not real or fun), or rooting for the video-game-on-easy fun team that does nothing but hit 34-foot shots and have ligaments explode?

Of course you’re going to do the fun thing. 

You should do the fun thing when you’re a kid. There’s plenty of time later on to graft a sense of belonging to a place you moved away from onto your identity. You can get the area code tattooed on you or something. 

The thing is, even if you do this as a kid, it can come back to bite you in the ass. Look at LeBron James — as an Ohio kid growing up in the ‘90s, when the Cavs were bad and the Browns were bad and then gone, he chose to be a fan of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and the Aikman-Irvin-Smith Dallas Cowboys. Great choices. Then he got stuck and stayed fans of them. How’s that worked out?

(This was as good as it’s worked out recently.)

Or you could just keep doing the fun thing. You could keep watching games and just enjoying the drama and unpredictability of sports. You could enjoy watching fun athletes at their peak performance regardless of which city’s deadbeat-tenant franchise drafted them to play in. You could appreciate the fresh story lines that each new season provides.

You could root for the unbeatable Golden State Warriors for a handful of years until their reign tapers off, fade into the hedges like Homer Simpson, and re-emerge as a lifelong and devout Clippers-or-maybe-Sixers-let’s-see-how-the-season-goes fan and enjoy the thing that is supposed to be a fun way to spend your time.

Nah, that’s stupid. Just root for the laundry. You’ll get to be happy once every half-century or so.

But it’ll mean more.

Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)

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