“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a sports fan in possession of no affiliation to either team must be in want of one to support.”
To add my version to the often paraphrased opening line of “Pride and Prejudice” on its 200th anniversary. This does hold true for most sports fans. By the very nature of sport there will only be two teams in a final and many more who fell by the wayside. This means that most fans don’t support either of the teams who make a final. In my experience most people choose one or the other to side with on these occasions to add a little extra excitement.
It is rare for me to be neutral in any sports event. I won’t lose any sleep if my team doesn’t win but I like to be on one side or the other. My reasons for preferring one over the other are varied. Sometimes I have tipped someone or a tea, and like to have my judgement proved correct. Occasionally I will have backed that judgement with a small wager. On rare occasions I like a player and will support them. More often however my choice is because I dislike one team less than the other.
This may seem unduly negative but if you are a fan of a particular team then all other teams should be met with disapproval to a greater or lesser degree. This can change over time according to the circumstances of the teams involved. I often like to support the underdog, especially if they are a big underdog, but over the years some teams flourish and others fade. If the same two teams are playing I could find myself cheering on the other team ten years down the line. Of course there are some teams that I dislike whatever the circumstances. At some point I may explain who they are and why.
Moving on to today’s Superbowl gives me an interesting dilemma. I really have no idea who will win tonight. It is too close to call so I won’t be betting on the game. I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan which makes things tricky. The Steelers greatest rivals for years have been the Baltimore Ravens. They play in the same division and have had some epic matches. This should naturally make me support the San Francisco 49ers tonight. However, there is a problem. If the 49ers win the Superbowl it will be their 6th title. This would tie the record held by, … the Pittsburgh Steelers. Any sports fan wants their team to be the top of the tree and the Steelers have been all alone on 6 titles for a few years now. I want them to stay that way.
I have a rather grudging respect for the Ravens because the Steelers have had so many hard-fought battles with them. Also, this season we did beat them in Baltimore and so we could claim to have beaten the champs. So even though my natural instinct is to go against the Ravens in tonight’s Superbowl I will be hoping they can win to keep the Steelers top of the all-time winners list.