Sports fandom is one area where I consciously choose to engage in irrational bias and allow events completely out of my control and irrelevant to my daily life affect my mood. It’s part of the game and what makes sports fun. If you felt no joy or anger the game would lose its value. The ability to be transported by immersion in the sport is the beauty of it.
I occasionally get weird looks when I root for various teams or players because not all of my teams are based on geography or something simple to identify.
I’m from Michigan, so the fact that all the major pro sports teams from Michigan are my favorites makes sense. I love the Lions, Tigers, Pistons, and when I occasionally pay attention to hockey, the Red Wings. But I’m a fan of several other teams too.
As for college, I’m a Michigan State guy. Best basketball and football programs in the state (Yep. I said it.), and one of the best in the nation. I don’t care about the institution, but I love their sports. Dantonio and Izzo are amazing and embody the attitude proper to great sports in the Great Lakes state. I didn’t go to MSU, but if you grow up in Michigan you will be a fan of U of M or MSU. I chose correctly as a boy. My brother likes U of M. Go figure.
I love the Chicago Cubs. I grew up equidistant from Detroit and Chicago and spent far more time in the latter. I went to Wrigley several times in my baseball loving childhood and Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player. The Cubs are almost as much of a home team to me as the Tigers.
I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. This one doesn’t have much reason. Since I was a kid I just kind of liked them. I loved Bill Cower and I thought maybe when he left I wouldn’t care as much. Nope. Still love them. There’s something about the franchise that is just right. They’re what I imagine the Lions could be if they were good….in other words, if everything about every bit of the Lions history and culture were completely different than it is.
I love the New England Patriots. Check that. I love Bill Belichick. If he left, I wouldn’t care about the Pats. Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of pro sports by a mile. What he’s done in this age or parity is three times better than the next best coach. Every year – even every week – they are a new team, built specifically to win that game. And it works. Everything that’s not supposed to work in the NFL Bill makes work. It’s unreal. The more others hate him, the more I love him.
I loved the 1990’s Chicago Bulls. Because I love Michael Jordan. Greatest athlete in the history of pro sports. Those Bulls teams were amazing, and their reign coincided with when I became interested in basketball more than baseball, plus the Pistons were on the decline so the Bulls were a natural team for me to love. I don’t care much about the Bulls either way now, but those old teams were the best.
I love the current Golden State Warriors. Certainly because of Steph Curry, who is the greatest present day player and the only one since Jordan who is truly changing everything about the game of basketball. But it’s not just that. Draymond Green has an explosive play style built on grit and the attitude to match. He’s from MSU. Of course he does. It’s definitely not the franchise I love, but the current mix of personnel. This team has a legit shot to come close to the ’90’s Bulls team. Take in greatness when you can.
That’s about it for teams I love. I like some individual players a lot too. Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, and Drew Brees come to mind.
As any good sports fan, I’m also often motivated by irrational hatred. Of course I hate my team’s traditional rivals. The Michigan Wolverines, the Bears and Packers (but especially the Bears), etc. But I also hate some other teams for various reasons and sometimes no reason at all. I hate the St. Louis Cardinals. I hate Pretty much all New York teams except the Yankees. I hate the Boston Red Sox. I hate the Dallas Cowboys.
There you have the lay of the land in my world of sports fandom. Now we can irrationally pretend to like or dislike each other during big games. Just remember, all of my teams are better than all of yours.