April 6, 2010
Last night, Duke beat Butler for its fourth NCAA Championship, making Duke the most frequent NCAA Champion of the last twenty years.
In the past, this would have killed me. Duke, North Carolina, the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, the Los Angeles Lakers — the teams that consistently won, and the teams with national appeal — these were teams I despised. And why wouldn’t I? They had rained on my parade so many times by beating my lowly teams that I believed I was justified in disliking them.
Additionally, I questioned how a team could have national appeal. Shouldn’t you always support your hometown team, even if you move away from your hometown? All those Yankees fans in Iowa surely were not born in New York City.
As I’ve matured, however, I have grown a greater understanding of people and their team loyalties. Many started like mine, born out of proximity to the team’s home field/stadium/arena. I am a Detroit Tigers fan because they were based closer than any other MLB team to the house in which I was raised.
But my parents were also Detroit Tigers fans. What if they were Red Sox fans? Would I be following Boston? Or what if my first baseball game experience was at Wrigley Field? Would the Cubs have a special enough place in my heart that I could be a Chicago fan? I now understand that there are many reasons behind people’s fanship.
Further, I’ve also realized that every game is better because of these relentlessly winning franchises. Without dominant teams like Duke, we would never have wonderful David vs. Goliath stories like we had last night when Butler faced Duke. Sure, last night, Goliath won. But without Goliaths, we would be stuck with a lot of David vs. David stories, which, I think we all can agree, would be so much less fun.
Yes, I used to be a hater. But now I’ve grown to appreciate the big, dominant, national teams. I might never root for one (outside of my hometown Red Wings), but I can respect them and their fans. And I believe that every game is better because of them.