The State of Fandom

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This blog was written by our good friend Dave, aka @InAzWeHitPeople on twitter. Please read and leave feedback…. Enjoy!

As a fan of Phoenix area sports teams, the “State of Fandom” in this city has confused me for years. You would think that in a city with such great weather and so many people, we’d be a top sports town. Then I realized, we ARE a great sports town. The problem? A very large amount of fans in this city don’t root for the home teams.

Let me start by giving my résumé as a Native Phoenix sports fan. At one point or another I’ve owned Suns, ASU football and ASU basketball season tickets. I also attend approximately 20 DBack games a year.

As for my pride and joy as a fan, I’ve owned Arizona Cardinals season tickets since the 2004 season. Yes, I actually sat in the sun on September afternoons at Sun Devil Stadium. I was 22 years old when I bought my first Cardinals season tickets and I’ve been to every home game and tailgate since.

I must include my experience with fans outside of our home stadiums to make my argument complete. I’ve been to eleven other baseball stadiums and four other football stadiums. So, I’ve been on both sides. I’ve seen the depths of “Fandom” in Tampa Bay, where they have a very good baseball team but very little support. I’ve also seen the pinnacle of “Fandom” seeing the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, and…gulp…the Seahawks.

I may not be the most experienced fan in Phoenix, but I think I’ve paid my dues and have seen enough to have a valid opinion on the state of “Fandom” here in Phoenix. I’ve been to enough Cardinal games to know what it feels like to be a “minority” fan in our home stadium. I’ve been to enough DBack games against LA, San Fran, and Chicago to know what it’s like to sit in a section surrounded by those wearing blue or black and orange. And I have plenty of friends and have talked to plenty of people that live in AZ and root for teams outside this state to know the common excuses.

This is when I divulge a dirty secret of mine: I grew up a Yankees and Eagles fan. That’s right, I know both sides of the “Phoenix Fan” argument. On one side, if you’re older than about 25, you have probably rooted for a team other than the Cardinals/Diamondbacks/Coyotes at some point in their lives. On the other side, regardless of age, most of those in my generation have grown up in Metro Phoenix. So do you stay “loyal” to your favorite team as a kid or become a hometown supporter? Then there’s those that migrated to Phoenix at some point in their lives. These people bring their “Fandom” from a city outside of Phoenix.

I’ll start by addressing those that think you stay loyal. What exactly are you staying loyal to? A team from another city that you rooted for a few years when you were younger? I think loyalty should stand with your hometown team, whether that team’s been here since 1968, 1988, or 1998. And if you say “Well, I’m 30 now and have been rooting for ‘so-and-so’ for 30 years now.” I say to you, “It’s never too late to right a wrong.”

This is a fight that fans of Phoenix area teams have battled for years now. Truthfully, I don’t see it changing anytime soon. As a large city, Phoenix is very young. It wasn’t until relatively recently that we’ve been a four sport city. We do not have the generational fans that many of the larger cities in the country have. These types of things take time. “Fandom” is passed on from generation to generation. This is why we have so many fans of “other” teams living here. They’re rooting for the teams their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers rooted for, who most likely grew up outside Phoenix and most definitely grew up rooting for other teams.

The first year I bought Cardinals season tickets, I was clinging onto my Eagles “Fandom.” I went to Cardinals games because I just loved watching football. But it didn’t take long before I realized I was holding onto old memories. I loved watching Randall Cunningham, Ricky Waters, and Reggie White (he’ll always be an Eagle!). But those were the old days. Those days were long past. I was rooting for those guys still, with different players on the field. I decided I had to start supporting our local team, The Cardinals. I’ve experienced enjoyment since, as a sports fan, that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Local fans…Cardinal fans…do not be discouraged. Continue to support your hometown teams. Keep buying gear and sporting it around town. Keep attending games. Keep your head up as fans and show your children what a positive experience it is to be a fan of our local teams. Because that is one thing we have over all these “other” fans. They get to see their teams once a year if they’re lucky. They wear their gear in the darkness of their living rooms. Let’s take advantage of our home field advantage. We are pioneers. We will get the ball rolling for generations to come.

And for those who come to University of Phoenix Stadium sporting the “other” teams jersey, it’s time to evaluate your “Fandom.” I know where you come from. I made the switch years ago and haven’t looked back. If you live in the valley, it’s time to support the home team. You can still hold on to your memories of watching Steve Young, Joe Montana, and Jerry Rice. You can still relive the glory days of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin. But those days are gone. You’re not rooting for those teams anymore. It’s time for Phoenix to turn the corner and become a premier sports town.

Let’s paint The UofP red for years to come!