Every big sports fan has a fan code. They all differ from person to person, but in general they are the rules that you follow to guide who you cheer for and why (what other excuse could there be for cheering for the Vancouver Voodoo, come back roller hockey!)
For most they get indoctrinated as a sports pup…Young, wide eyed, in awe of your team’s players, colours, and logos. They guide you through your teams lows without abandoning ship, they set your tolerance level of opposing fans ignorance (every other team in the league is full of these people, not your team of course…which leads to another point, they let you be judgey of other fans for not doing it right!), and they dictate how much of your income is “invested” in jerseys and collectables. In short They set you apart from the Apu’s of the world: For me some of the most important rules have always been you don’t change teams, you don’t cheer for a rival (the only Canadian team left? Sorry they are the enemy not gonna happen) and civic pride trumps out of market teams. You cheer for the team from where you are from, even if they are named say, the Vancouver Grizzlies (Listening to Al Murdoch announce Mike Biiibbby for 3!! was the thing of dreams). It never made sense to me why I knew so many Pittsburgh Penguins fans in the early 90s. Surely watching Mario Lemieux had nothing on willing a Geoff Courtnall 3rd period goal and then running into him in a White Rock McDonalds (not to make you jealous but it happened).
The local team represents you, and all your neighbours. It brings you together, it gives you a sense of community, a common point to bitch about and once in a while to celebrate en mass. For me and my Sportscode it’s just what you do…problem is I don’t live where I used to. Where I’m from is now somewhere else and the code no longer jives with the code branded into my brain as a 15 year old.
I moved to Edmonton in 2008 and up until now there wasn’t much issue. I was still able to thoroughly enjoy the peak of the Sedins talent from afar while rolling my eyes at another jab at “the sisters”…wow real original material you got there! Meanwhile for the local community it was hard to get that feeling of togetherness when Kevin Lowe was insisting his Stanley Cup rings meant he was qualified probably to run the world. At first I loved the fact the Oilers were so bad, then I was indifferent, but over the last few years it actually started to be embarrassing.
I had planted my roots in the power centre sweet spot of South West E town. I was proud of the city bursting with festivals, young families, new restaurants and diehard sports fans. But the team that was its heart was an empty shell…and I was actually tired of it. Yes after 8 years of living amongst people that actually thought Mess was a good Captain (hands down worst in Nucks history) my Sportscode rules were juxtaposed to each other. I can’t cheer for a rival…but I should cheer for the locals…Error! Error!
When the smoke stopped coming out of my ears my sportdcode was a little torn and my 15-30 year old selves were upset but in the end Cheering for a rival lost out to Civic Pride. The reason I love sports in the first place is the feeling of being part of something bigger, being part of the party, the coming together of family and friends. This year I will get that not by begrudging the oilers in the playoffs but by embracing it. I’m not going to call myself an Oilers fan, I will always cheer for the Canucks first. But if it means enjoying the greater spirit of where I live, I’ll let Civic Pride derail my sportscode damnit! For the first time in my life and as a proud Edmontonian Go Oilers Go.