Just so there’s no confusion about the topic of this blog, we are talking about football. The only kind of football that matters—American football. The sport made great by the holy trinity of Halas, Lombardi, and Davis. Football that has hulking, gigantic men in helmets steaming up and down the field looking for someone to clobber. Got it? It’s sad that a clarification is necessary, but those are the times we are living in. Accessibility has opened the door for a foreign invader to enter the national discussion. Previously sane people now call soccer, football, like we are living on the West End of London or something.
Anyway, if you are new to football, or sports in general, and don’t how to choose a favorite football team, we are here to help.
For the younger readers, this concept might seem foreign, but for a long time, you could only watch the team that was in your immediate area. The TV networks and streaming services still have blackout rules that limit where you can watch a team in your area. However, back in the day, networks would blackout games and teams if the game itself didn’t sell out. As such, during this time, teams such as Dallas Cowboys became popular because they were always on TV—even in markets outside of their immediate area. They were the only team on, so people became fans because they could watch their games.
Proximity to Your Backyard
Most people start supporting a team because they are local. If you live in Boston, you root for the Patriots. In Minnesota, you root for the Vikings, and so on. Sports fandom is one of the most tribal things there is. People band together in a geographic area and cheer for the same team every Sunday as it’s something communities can easily bond over. Granted, there will be transplants in an area who bring their old affiliations with them. Either way, the vast majority of any populace will root for the local team no matter how good or bad they are.
Cheer for a Team out of Spite
This is one of the best reasons to root for a team. It’s always easy to jump on the bandwagon and cheer for the local team—that’s a safe move. But there’s another option. While everyone else zigs, you zag and devote your fandom to the archrival. For example, walking around Green Bay, it’s easy to feel assaulted by Green and Yellow. So, individuals will make the conscious decision to cheer for the Chicago Bears just to stick their thumb right in their neighbors’ eyes. Be that non-conformist that struts around in orange and blue on Sunday instead of the hideous Packers colors. Another great way to approach the spite pick is to disrupt the family tradition. If your dad is a die-hard Steelers fan, then you may feel obligated to become a Ravens fan. Plant your flag of defiance and let it fly high for all to see.
Root for a Player
The players make the team and give it personality; they are the beating heart of the team and bring it to life. However, with the constant migration of players from team to team, it can be hard to connect to one team as a whole. Instead, it’s easier to cheer for your favorite player. Cheer for him and his continued success first, then the team that he’s on. If he stays in one place for his entire career, then that’s a bonus for you. But if he migrates like a flock of birds, then you can have fun collecting jerseys from all the stops along the way.
Jump on the Bandwagon
When in doubt, root for a winner. There is always room on the bandwagon for another fan. When you start watching games, find out who the best team (or teams) is and pledge your loyalty to them. Don’t let a one season pretender fool you, though—a hotshot team can have a great season that is an anomaly, then they come crashing back to earth the next season. Do a bit of research and find out historically which franchises are the best. Even if they are in the middle of a rough couple of seasons, they will eventually come back around and start winning again. The Steelers, Cowboys, and 49ers have all had their low points, but they always manage to right the ship and start winning.
This is a Titans House and Always Will be
Honestly this, more often than not, is how fans become fans—heredity. Most fans of a specific team are that way because their dads and grandfathers were fans first. It makes sense that most people never really had a choice in the matter. If the Dolphins are on the TV every Sunday, you will become a fan of the Dolphins. Especially back in the day when there was only one team to watch and the old man had control of the TV. If you wanted to watch football, there was only one way to do it, so you might as well get on board.
Birds of a Feather
Maybe you aren’t really a fan of football and just enjoy the experience. You just want to attend games, tailgate, and have some fun with a huge group of new best friends. Take a look at the various fan bases that teams have. Some are more reserved, very polite, and love to enjoy a nice day outdoors, such as Packer fans. Others are freaking lunatics that drink and eat way too much, dress up in terrifying costumes, and engage in self-destructive behavior. Take a look at some YouTube videos of Raiders and Buffalo Bills fans. They are passionate about their team, to say the least. Find a group of like-minded people and make it an excuse to party every Sunday in branded clothing, and maybe catch the fourth quarter of the game if you remember.
Until you decide on a team, it’s a good idea to invest in a generic gear, such as a patriotic football jersey, so you have something to wear on game day. Even once you land on a team, you can grab some swag from your new favorite team as well as keep buying universal jerseys.