Since I’ve gotten more into sports over the past year, this question has become very (VERY) important to me. There’s only one team from my native Colorado I could never root against, the Avalanche of the NHL, who supplied me with childhood memories and heroes. Even though the Broncos won their Super Bowls when I was at an impressionable age, I feel no connection to them, and the Rockies and Nuggets stank when I was younger, so I barely even paid attention to those guys. Sure, I’ll bandwagon hard for a Colorado team if they’re hot, but otherwise I have no interest in hitching my emotional wagon to mediocre stars.
But, as you say, sports are fun because you get to care passionately about something meaningless, so I need to root for someone. How do I choose?
I’m currently most into the NBA, so I’ll use that as my example.
Based on a hypothetical and surprisingly emotional tournament I just played out in my head, here are my favorite teams, in order of who I’d root for if they played each other:
So what do these teams have in common?
For one, they’re all led by great, exciting, likable, slightly sub-mainstream MVP candidates (Durant, Rondo, Rose, STAT, respectively). I like it when players I feel strongly about do incredible things, and these guys deliver reliably.
Second, they all have playoff aspirations, but carry the air of slight underdogs. (I know this doesn’t sound right for the Celts, seeing how they came a quarter away from the championship last season, but their bad beat then and surprising defiance of their old age this year give them the edge I’m looking for.) It’s fun to cheer for teams that have a shot at winning it all, but aren’t quite the favorite. Otherwise, you’re fixing to either get your hopes dashed, or you’re basically rooting for Wal-Mart, Microsoft, or the Yankees.
Third, I’ll admit that, being a recent convert to the NBA, I’m probably caught up in the hype a little, since all of these teams are kinda media darlings. I’m fine with this.
I’m not saying these criteria are how you or anyone else should choose teams. Rather, and I know this might sound like heresy to people who only root-root-root for the home team, I think it’s smart to buy into teams that suit your aesthetic preferences. I’m having so much fun watching basketball this year because “my” teams are good now and they play the kind of ball I want to watch. It sure as hell beats pretending to care as the apathetic Nuggets slouch around the court, waiting for their star player to leave them.
So basically you should root for the Packers because they’re fucking rad, Aaron Rodgers is crazy good (or is that crazy/beautiful?), and all of America loves them. I mean, there’s really nothing wrong with jumping on the bandwagon, is there?