Monday, September 21, 2009

An Alternate Manifesto

I'm not trying to pick a fight. I'm really not. In fact, I'm rarely trying to pick a fight. Honestly. I know none of you believe me.

Either way, I have something to say about being a fan.

I am a fan. Almost to the point of stupidity. See, I went to Notre Dame, where I learned what it meant to love football. In fact, of all the things at Notre Dame that I learned (that wasn't Art History related) loving football was the one thing that is going to stick with me forever. Anyone who ever went knows what I'm talking about. Michigan people know what I'm talking about, but they're infuriating. Like Ohio State and USC people. In fact, I flat out hate any team that Notre Dame is playing.

Anyway, back to my point. I recently read an article in the NYTimes. Well, online. Print newspaper is on the way out. Which is a tragedy because reading a real newspaper is one of the great pleasures of the modern world.

This article I read was about a guy named Michael Tunison, who wrote a book called The Football Fan's Manifesto. I haven't read it. But, like a good academic, I get the jist of it, so I'm going to make an argument about it. Not really, I'm just going to tell you what I think. Like a good academic. I hope I didn't just blow anybody's cover.

Kids, that's called sarcasm. I'm kidding. No I'm not. And, now we're in an Eddie Izzard routine.

Anyway, Tunison makes an argument in this article that I'd like to publicly disagree with, as a fan of football.

First of all, Mr. Tunison claims that the cutoff point for selecting a team is age 8. Actually, he says that in the book. The interviewer refers to it. Got to get the citations right.

See, now, this is ok for me, because, following that rule I get the Steelers, who are certainly fashionable now, because they're the reigning champs. But, then, before I was 8, they were the greatest team ever. This was the tail end of the Bradshaw, Harris, Stallworth, Swann, Steel Curtain Steelers. The greatest team ever. The quintessential dynasty. Hapsburgian. So I'm set.

But I'm disputing the rule.

I think fandom is aggregate. It builds up like sediment over the course of a lifetime. Sometimes this is for a single team, like I am for the Irish. But, I also think that one may accumulate a multitude of teams of which one is a fan.

An example. Myself. I've always watched the NFL. I'm pretty certain it was my Dad's doing, but my Mother will watch the bejesus out of a football game, too, so it was probably a team effort.

I am an Eagles fan. And a Titans fan. That's where I'm at right now.

But, I think that fandom is about self-determination. Like the floating can. It's a screen onto which we project our identities and it is a source from which we draw identity. It's dual and multi- if not polydirectional.

Now, I need to not put words into Tunison's mouth. Here's the quote, from the NYTimes:

For a diehard fan, however, there’s so much of their personal identity wrapped up in which team they root for that turning their back on that team amounts to something of a personal betrayal.

I fully agree with the notion of fandom and identity, but this issue of personal betrayal doesn't make sense to me. Because I think that identity is, like fandom, an aggregate. It builds up like sediment.

Point of order. I've just made a circular argument. I'm aware of this. I don't care because, to an extent, all arguments are circular. That's so contradictory arguments roll right off.

Anyway, I am an Eagles fan and a Titans fan.

And a Steelers fan, because I was when I was a kid.

And a Broncos fan, because I have family in Colorado, and because I love John Elway. And the Three Amigos.

And a Cardinals fan, because I have family in St. Louis. I'm talking Neil Lomax. The Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams are both dead to me.

And a Ravens fan, because I used to live in Maryland, with a dude from Baltimore, to boot. And Joe Flacco went to Delaware. I did too, but before he was there. But how often does a Blue Hen become an amazing pro QB right down the street like that?

And an Eagles fan, because somewhere along the line, when I was a kid, I had an Eagles helmet, which may have been both a sign and source of allegiance. And because I lived in Philly.

And a Titans fan, because I live in Tennessee. Which is why I'm a Grizzlies fan, but that's a different sport. Same argument, different sport.

See, that's my departure from Tunison. I don't understand why one cannot accumulate a multiplicity of fanhoods for a number of teams with which one's life has brought one into contact. It seems natural to me, like having a favorite pizza joint in every city you've lived in.

I'm sure this will infuriate a number of people. Hopefully it won't get me thrown out of my Fantasy league, but Fantasy people probably already know what I'm talking about. I was just yelling because Ronnie Brown just scored a touchdown. And I don't give a damn about the Dolphins.

And I really hope that the good people of Philadelphia, Art first among them, will forgive me. But do know that I am with you above all others.

You may have noticed that I am both an Eagles and a Titans fan. How, you will want to know, would I deal with the blessed day on which the Eagles and Titans meet in the Super Bowl? This is utterly possible. Probably not this year, but it is. And some of you will think this is a contradiction, that I can be a fan of both simultaneously. An impossibility. And some of you will notice that this is a win-win, a rather convenient situation for me. This is true.

Now, a practical dilemma. What of those days when the Eagles play the Cardinals, or the Titans play the Broncos, or the Steelers or the Ravens, for that matter? Well, then I'm with the Eagles, or the Titans, because, as I've already said, the Arizona Cardinals are dead to me, and John Elway retired, and this isn't the Steel Curtain. What about the Ravens, who are still in Maryland and still have Joe Flacco? I'm with the Titans because, like so many things in life, you've got to pick your battles.

What of that blessed day? Super Bowl Infinity, Eagles vs. Titans?

I will be happy. And I will be sad. Because that's what being a fan is about. Being happy when things go well and sad when they do not. Just like when I get to eat pizza at my favorite pizza place but know I won't be back for a while.

Happy when things go well and sad when they do not. Like so many things in life.

See, football does explain everything.

1 comment:

  1. Makes sense to me. I have an array of allegiances, both from 8 & under (loving the NY Baseball & Football Giants, detesting the Yankees) and over (the Mets & Titans/Jets came to town). One variance: I don't dream of domination. I love the contest & enjoy fine players. This quirk is sometimes problematic for my bride.