Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Patriots Fans' Shit Don't Stink

At the San Diego/Indianapolis divisional playoff on Sunday, before the start of the fourth quarter, a bunch of kids who won the "Punt, Pass, and Kick" competition (I have no idea what that is, but it's probably exactly what it sounded like) were honored. They came from different age groups and were all wearing (presumably) their hometown team's jersey. Of course, when it came to the girl in the Patriots jersey, the Indy crowd (at least, some of it) booed. I was watching, they sounded scattered anyway, and the winner, 14-year-old Anna Grant, just smiled and took it in stride. She knew that by wearing the jersey of a team's fiercest rival into their stadium, she was going to receive exactly what she got (from a minority of the type of bonehead fans who really have nothing better to do than boo, and who you find in every city, but that's a different story). As a result, Pats owner Robert Kraft, in a kindly meant gesture, extended an invitation for Anna and her family to come to Foxborough this weekend and be "properly" honored. He claimed that he couldn't understand why she'd been booed, since after all she'd won a competition, and in so doing displayed ignorance of the behavior of every fan since the history of sports began. The Patriots fans were also getting hot under the collar. However, neither Kraft nor the Patriots fans are really getting the point here.

As you might imagine, the holier-than-thou has already started. Pats Pulpit has gotten all up in arms about it. Of course, they don't start out very well by claiming that, " The New England Patriots, an organization that understands and exemplifies class..." Whoa now, do you really want to go down that road? Bill Belichick wins at all costs, not by playing nice. Spygate -- do you really need help to beat the woeful Jets? Tom Brady's, um, interesting approach to fatherhood (although I don't think it's all his fault?) Running up the score against the Dolphins (and everyone else, for that matter) when you're already winning by two touchdowns and a field goal? The (of course denied) allegations made against Randy Moss for committing battery on a woman, which in my mind is a tad worse than booing your team's rival?

Anyway, Pats Pulpit is carried away in its own indignation. "The act is beyond comprehension, beyond words. It was by far the most classless act by the most classless fans imaginable." Yeah. Right. Suuuuuuure. This coming from the same fanbase that chants, "Yankees Suck!" at every public function or sporting event, is generally regarded as one of the most insufferable in all of pro sports, and has only a 2007 World Series Championship, 16-0 season, and likely Super Bowl appearance to wipe their poor, long-suffering eyes with, not to mention two World Series wins in four years and three Super Bowl wins in five years. Hey, thin-skinned Bostonites -- how long have you all been sports fans, or did it start after 2001 when the Pats won their first title, increase in 2004 when the Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino and hang on from there? Booing the opponent is part of the game. Are sports fans irrational? Heck yeah. Why the hell does it matter so much if the guys dressed in our colors score more points by tossing a ball around? It's a game, after all. No big deal. Does it matter? You bet. And therefore, you support your team with the mindless fervor that is needed, and hate their rivals. If the kid walked into Gillette in a Colts jersey, you would have heard it all the way to Cambridge, and she probably would have laughed it off anyway, because she seems to get what the fanbase-at-large does not. It happens. Look in a mirror, people.

When I went to Shea Stadium in April wearing my Rockies cap, shirt, necklace, etc, for an early-season game between the Mets and the Rockies, I got heckled. I wasn't standing on the field, so the whole place never had an opportunity to boo me. Did I start ranting out the ears about the most classless fans imaginable? (Having been to a few games in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, I hasten to assure you that New York and Boston fans deserve each other). No, I did not -- in fact, I laughed about it, just like Anna Grant did, and just like most ordinary people who get that while sports are a big deal, it's not like they were committing some sort of heresy against your precious Patriots, and if you wear enemy colors into enemy territory, the result will be expected. Hell, it wasn't even a Yankees shirt -- I can only imagine what sort of new epithets I would have learned if it was.

Lest you think that the Colts fans were picking on a poor, innocent girl, Anna also mentions that they told her it wasn't her personally, it was just her choice of duds -- something which you should understand, because the Patriots and the Colts do not like each other, people. Let's put it another way -- what would have happened to her if she walked into Fenway with a Derek Jeter shirt on? Would the noble, selfless Boston fans refrain from razzing since they knew it would reflect poorly on their spotless, upstanding organization? No. "Jeter Sucks, A-Rod Swallows" would be about the start of it. Do I do this, or would I do this? No, but that's the kind of person I am -- too shy, anyway. Do I understand what makes them do it? A-yup. Are the booing Indy fans tools? Probably, but they support their team and hate their rivals. They are booing the Patriots, not the girl. There is a big difference.

Get over yourselves, people. Congrats to Anna Grant for winning (I always give female athletes the thumbs up) and it was a kindly gesture by the Pats to offer to fete her in fine feather in Foxborough this weekend (go me with the alliteration). But claiming you "don't understand" why they booed her, Mr. Kraft, shows a fundamental ignorance of the crazy, undying, probably misdirected, and definitely unhealthy passion of sports fans. We're a weird breed. Get used to it.


John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Let's not get started about Pats Pulpit. They really do give a bad name to Patriots fans.

I found myself wondering, while listening to the booing fans in Indy, if Broncos fans would boo the "winner" of any competition should that person have a Raider jersey, or even worse, a Charger jersey...