Do Sports Teams Reflect Their Towns – HELL YES
Why do we love or hate sports so much? Easy, sports teams for their own part are a reflection of our geographical politics, our lifestyles, and our culture. Although some athletes may hide in anonymity because they wear visors on their masks (football/hockey); or some athletes come from entirely different backgrounds than the people that pay $3,000.00 for courtside seats (basketball); or come from entirely different countries altogether (baseball); the jerseys worn by the athletes still embody the communities they represent. Starting with the East Coast (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and D.C.), this series of posts follows the list of teams and athletes that have come to emblemize the cities they represent.
PART I of IV: EAST COAST
Boston: aka Baaasten, Beantown; Home of the Celtics, Bruins, Redsox (aka Sou-ax); and Patriots (aka Paaatz). This is the city that combines its Blue-Blooded Mayflower Anglophiles with Bootleggin’ Irish Kennedy new money and working class. They are upper-crust Harvard, Irish Catholic Boston College, and center of the universe MIT. Where else can you have a kid from French Lick, IN on top of the sports world alongside the NFL’s most popular Playboy who has babies out of wedlock and dates Victoria Secret Supermodels. Notwithstanding these contradictions, Boston is for all intents and purposes, HARDCORE. Its fans, mostly working class, appreciate the toughness of a Cam Neely, the teamwork and “drivin’ miss daisy” humility of Bill Russell, and the grit of the Splendid Splinter. Speaking of the Sox, Boston is also a city in love with its own depravity. In a spat of irony, Bostonites curse the “Big Dig” as they would the decision to trade Babe Routh, both events causing decades of painful regret. But with the recent success of the Pats, Celts, and Soax, Basten is definitely the City of the Decade when it comes to sports, thus giving hope to cities who the Sports Gods haven forsaken.
New York/ New Jersey: aka Nyark, Gotham, Metropolis, New Amsterdam, The City that Never Sleeps, and the Great White Way; Home of the Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Jets, Islanders, Rangers, and Mets and Devils. The NYC is the center of the universe, financially, politically, and culturally – at least to 18 Million New Yorkers. So the view of their teams is also myopic. In the mind of the Jankess fan, a year without a ring is failure. On the other hand, the Knicks, Mets and Jets are just failures. The Giants have the oldest and most conservative ownership group in the NFL, and they win or lose being the oldest and most conservative team in the NFL. And the reason why I won’t run a list of athletes that represent New York is because half of the Baseball hall of fame is enshrined in Yankee Stadium. But despite the glamour and glitz that is NYC, the teams and their athletes are most appreciated for their desire to win. Jersey’s own Al Davis sums it up the best, “Just Win Baby.” So even if you have great numbers, losers are decapitated by the Nyark media (i.e. A-Fraud); But even one glorious championship can place you in the pantheon of NY sports (i.e. Joe Namath, Willis Reed, LT, Eli Manning, Keith Hernendez).
Philadelphia: aka Phili; or the City of Brotherly Shove. Phili is the Red-Headed step child of the East Coast, with bad acne and worse teeth. Phili combines its penis envy hatred of New York with a loathing for everything south of the Mason Dixon line. The Founding Fathers re-nigged on making Phili the Nation’s Capital of the Country and Wallstreet eventually became the world’s financial center. For this reason, Phili fans have the worst Napoleonic complex of all cities in any of the major sports. Unfortunately for the Phili fan, the images of the Broad Street Bullies pummeling the Ruskies in Hockey during the 70’s and Dr. J gorilla dunking on the Lakers in the early 80’s is rapidly fading into distant memory. Why, because Phili is and has always been an EAGLES town. Rocky depicted the underdog of inner-city Phili. Black, Irish, Italian, Czech, German, Greek, Pats or Genos…it didn’t matter. They were all Rocky because they were all Grilled Meat Cheese and Onion. But just as Sly was always the underdog to Apollo/Clubber/Drago/Dixon, Frazier takes a second seat to Ali, and the Eagles will always be in the back of bus compared to the Giants and Cowboys. Even the recent success of the Phillies cannot assuage the pain of Eagles failures in the playoffs. What other city would fire its Hall of fame Coach and Hall of Fame QB in the prime of their careers because they haven’t won a Superbowl? Maybe next year Eagle fan, maybe next year.
Washington D.C.: aka Chocolate City, The Beltway, and the District of Crime. D.C. is the home to the Wizards (fka Bullets), the Capitals, and the Nationals. But really folks, there’s only one team everyone cares about. Hale To the Redskins. Slinging Sammy, The Smurfs, The Over-the Hill Gang, The Hogs, The Diesel, Joe T, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Dexter Manley, Joe Gibbs. These are the names you remember when you think D.C. Sports. And like their athletes, D.C. is an amalgamation of many characteristics. Because D.C. embodies the power of its political elite, the swagger of an active nightlife, and youthful vibrancy of its prestigious academic community, a percentage of D.C. fans are comprised of the socio-economically elite. Then, there are the true fans, the people that call themselves citizens of D.C. – These are folks residing “Outside the Beltway” where the wealthy suburbanites dot the rural townships along Chesapeake Bay; and the people “Inside the Beltway” consist of D.C.’s poor African-American community, usually ranking low in education and high in crime rates. D.C. loves its Skins, hates the Cowboy and Eagle fan, and loves its town.
Tune in next week for a view of the Mid-West.