After taking in a number of articles on the Boston Bruins v. Vancouver Canucks trial this week (no YOUR team’s not tough), I feel like there’s something I should share: you’ll be shocked to hear this, but pro sports teams don’t consider the people who cover them part of the “we” that exists in their locker room. At all.
Fans, however? You’re good.
The media gets filed under “them.” Something about the moment they enter the room after a game reminds me of the panic-tidy you used to pull off when you were a teenager and your parents came home from vacation. Shit, they’re walking in! Okay, jam these pizza boxes under the couch, try not to look too hungover, and don’t forget the “I’m a really good guy” smile.
“Great to see you. Yeah, y’know, it was gut check time, and….”
It sucks to say (and it’s one of the reasons I hate conducting interviews), but most athletes consider media more detrimental than helpful. So obviously, there’s no “we” there. It’s cool that the Bruins gave Jack Edwards a ring and all, but I’m sure when the players had their ”can you believe we did it?” talks over drinks in the summer, they weren’t mentally including their play-by-play guy. And, I’m sure Jack knows that.
As for fans that say “we?” I love it.
The way I see it, that “we” is used in a different sense. As a fan, you’re a part of a large fanbase - a group of people all pulling in the same direction, riding the same emotional roller coaster, dedicating your time and money to the same thing. I say “we” about the New York Jets, and lord knows they don’t have a sniff about who I am, let alone that I care, but there’s also a massive number of people who are with me when I say “go Jets.” That’s my “we.”
We’re going to suck as long as we have Mark Sanchez at quarterback, eh?
From a player’s standpoint, you do view fans as a positive, helpful thing. It feels good to have someone rooting for you, wishing you well and believing in you. So yeah, you see the fans as a part of what you’re doing. Nobody wants to lift the Stanley Cup in an empty building. There is an element of “we did it,” of shared experience.
I lived with a diehard New York Giants fan in Utah (Keith Johnson), and I don’t mean that he liked the Giants the way I like the Jets (go team!). I mean that if the Giants lost, he wouldn’t go to dinner with us that night, got surly, and generally wasn’t himself for half a day. Personally, that’s a bit too intense for my taste, but I envied the highs he experienced when his team won. Few things in life made me as happy as he was won His Team won.
That was that year I decided to quit with the “I dunno, I guess I kinda like the Raptors, Suns, Knicks, Celtics, Kings….” stuff and say “Okay, I’m all-in on the Raptors.” It’s just more fun that way, in that you suddenly have a group of fans to be apart of. That’s your team, all of you. We. So where you at, Islanders, Jets, Blue Jays, and Raptors fans? (I secretely still root for the Mets too, contrary to my theory. Shhh.)
I assure you that if the Islanders start making headway on the Rangers (haha), I’ll make as many “we’re coming for you” comments to Rangers fans as I can muster up. That’s the fan in me.
But what I won’t do, is write pro-Isles posts on theScore’s website that they don’t deserve. Proof of this is the zero I’ve written since taking over this job. They haven’t deserved it. (Okay, Matt Moulson scoring 20 goals in 40 games thus far might.)
This week has muddied the water of who “we” really is (the host of a TV show saying “We used to celebrate stuff like the President’s Cup” to a Vancouver scribe would qualify as muddying, I’d say. You’re behind a desk on television, not on the bench with Shawn Thornton or in the stands, dude).
The team and their fans are the We. Everyone else is just….them.