OT - Hometown Allegiance to Pro Sports Teams

Submitted by Boshdelightful on August 19th, 2010 at 6:15 PM

I grew up in Michigan as a Red Wings-Tigers-Lions-Pistons fan, and for all intensive purposes I will always root for those teams. However, I currently live in Texas with my girlfriend who is somewhat of a Cowboys fan.

I am a UM alum and could never see myself rooting for another college team, but I am wondering what the perception is on this board of changing teams in professional sports. 

There are numerous pros and cons weighing on my mind (no pun intended), primarily the television availability of games, and quite frankly, success on the field. 

I am having a hard time accepting the Cowboys as my new team as I do not like several of their players, but I understand pro sports to be more of a spectacle than the true love I feel towards Michigan. 

Have any of you moved cities and adopted new pro sports teams to root for?



August 19th, 2010 at 6:27 PM ^

I will never let go of Michigan, Wings, or Tigers but tried with (SUPRISE!) the Lions... 

Almost did it when I lived in Arizona but the Cardinals were one of the only teams that were as bad as the lions then.  I live in Chicago now and I just cant stand the Bears fans..  I do root for the Pats because of the T. Brady, and I might take on the Eagles a bit for similar reasons..

It's something about growing up with teams that makes me feel like I am betraying the team if I root for someone else  


August 19th, 2010 at 6:32 PM ^

I grew up in NY, but have lived in the Bay Area for 20 years.  The NY teams are still my teams.  Period.  I have no particular interst in the SF/Oakland teams--some I like and some I don't--no different than before I moved here.

Nor am I interested in Cal or Stanford.  I have *a lot* of friends who are Cal graduates and, although some are loyal fans, they (and Pac 10 fans in general) don't have near the intense connection that I have for mighty Meechigan.  In fact, I openly mock them when they refer to "The Big Game" (Cal and Stanford).  I call it "The Big Joke." 

The good news is that you don't have to adopt Dallas teams.  Between the BTN, websites such as this, online newspapers, pay per view, sports bars, etc., you can easily follow your hometown teams and see most if not all of their games.


August 19th, 2010 at 6:33 PM ^

I grew up in Michigan and moved to Phoenix - I've more or less adopted the local teams as my "second home teams". Particularly the Cardinals, since they employ Steve Breaston and are much more fun to watch than the Lions these days (this may change now that Matt Leinart is their starting QB). That said, I will NOT cheer for a Phoenix team against a Detroit team. I attended two Red Wings v. Coyotes playoff games this year in a Wings jersey, and plan to wear it again for the Coyotes home opener against Detroit.

University of Michigan allegiance trumps all of course.

Obligatory nitpick: it's "intents and purposes", not "intensive purposes". That one drives me nuts for some reason.

st barth

August 19th, 2010 at 6:33 PM ^

I've lived around in a few places and have remained loyal to my old Michigan teams but with one exception.  When in I was in Boston for three years (99-02) I happily jumped on the Patriots bandwagon and left the Lions behind.  They weren't super successful yet but then Tom Brady came to town and three super bowls later I'm definitely happy with the move.

I guess my advice would be that if a team in your new town (assuming it's not a direct rival of your old team) hasn't been successful but it catches fire, then it's not a bad idea to ride along with it.  Probably even a lot of the locals will be showing a bandwagon interest as well and it could help you ease your way into a new community.


August 20th, 2010 at 6:31 AM ^

Here's my problem with dumping a team due to the lack of success, and this isn't directed specifically at you but it's just a general issue:

If the Lions pulled an Arizona Cardinals move and made a miracle Super Bowl run in a couple of years, how fast would you abandon your new NFL team to go back to them? And how long after that would you ditch the Lions again? You can say you wouldn't go back, but I knew a lot of people who talked a lot of shit about the Tigers and how they'd never go back to that organization who were suddenly wearing the old English D every day in 2006.

Also, I have to admit I can't believe you could possibly get the same satisfaction out of an adopted team winning a title as you would out seeing the team you grew up with and suffered with for your entire life. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl during my phase where I was into them (see below), I was really happy... but it didn't feel nearly as good as the Wings Cup wins or the UM MNC did. It was just the satisfaction of having the team I'd arbitrarily picked win a game. If the Lions ever won a Super Bowl, I'd shit my pants and cry for hours... I just don't think any other team could ever give me that feeling

Clarence Beeks

August 20th, 2010 at 11:59 AM ^

It was just the satisfaction of having the team I'd arbitrarily picked win a game.

I think the distinction hinges on your use of the word "arbitrarily".  If you just pick a team arbitrarily, then yes, I agree with you.  But not everyone who moves on to a new team does so arbitrarily.


August 19th, 2010 at 6:49 PM ^

I grew up in Los Angeles so my childhood teams were the Dodgers, Lakers, Kings, and Raiders (yes, even after the left). I haven't lived back "home" for 15 years now, but all of those teams still hold a special place in my heart. With pro sports (which I care about much less than college football), I've always thought that it was good to root for the home team. So I've added teams along the way. When I lived in Ann Arbor I followed and pulled for all the Detroit teams, same thing when I moved to Seattle, Chicago, etc.. I like going to games, and games are much more fun if you care about who wins, so I'm going to care about the home team. But the thing is I never completely drop a team after I leave (I still care about the Detroit teams even though I left Michigan four years ago).

So the problem for me is that at some point it gets ridiculous. Now that I'm in Chicago I can't get myself to care about either baseball team. I'm much more inclined to be a Sox fan, but if I did that I'd be up to FOUR American league teams that I care about to some extent. That would just be stupid.

As for college football I have several teams that I like (favorites in each conference, etc), mostly because I like to watch a ton of college football, and, like I wrote earlier, it's just much more fun if I have a team in a game that I want to win. Betting can serve this purpose too.

Of course there's only one team that I love and am completely and forever obsessed with--Michigan, of course.


August 19th, 2010 at 6:53 PM ^

Been living in Houston for a few years now, and my passion for Detroit sports is as strong as ever.  I'll root for the Houston teams to do well, but I'll never follow/cheer for another pro team like I do the Detroit teams.  Not a chance.

931 S State

August 19th, 2010 at 6:58 PM ^

I grew up in metro Detroit and am a UM alum as well.  I struggled with adopting new pro teams when I first moved to Atlanta 8 years ago.  The Braves were the easiest team to adopt because they play in the NL, they have a solid franchise, and I figured the chances of them facing the Tigers in the World Series were slim, there was little conflict in rooting for them.  I've followed Braves baseball more closely than I ever did the Tigers (it's easier to follow a team when they're actually worth watching), and consider myself a Braves fan, but I still am not sure who I'd root for if they met in the WS (I half-heartedly pull for the Tigs when they meet in interleague play because the outcome is generally irrelevant in the grand scheme and it's fun to root for away teams and have the camaraderie with other Detroit fans).  

As for football, I started going to Falcons games in 2003 because I had a few friends with a good tailgate and nothing really else to do on Sundays.  The next year I bought season tix (they were relatively cheap and no wait list) because they were really the only opportunity I had to watch live football and enjoy the gameday experience.  I had season tix through this year and they're undoubtedly "my team" in the NFL.  

As for the Wings and Pistons (and especially the Wings) they will always be my teams.  Probably because of all the success they had while I was growing up they've had a lasting impression that has made me more dedicated to supporting them.  

I think what you'll find is that the longer you live in a city, and the more you follow their teams, the more they'll grow on you.  Also, the people around you will likely be most interested in the local teams, and will have little interest in talking about Lions football, so if you want to talk shop, you're gonna have to know the Cowboys.  To boot, if you listen to sports talk radio you'll be inundated by local sports and will have to turn to the internet to get your Detroit fill.  Eventually you'll be a fan.  Although, if I were in your situation (Dallas) it'd probably be more difficult because I've always hated to Cowboys.

931 S State

August 19th, 2010 at 8:31 PM ^

Yeah, but watching Michigan is my number one priority on Saturdays.  I've been to 3 or 4 games in Athens since I moved here, but it can be difficult to find a spot to watch Michigan while tailgating at UGA because most SEC fans really don't give a shit about the Big Ten.  Plus I tend to get generally annoyed by Georgia fans.  They remind me a lot of OSU fans for some reason.  That said, tailgating on North Campus in Athens is top notch.  They certainly know how to have a good time and the "scenery" is quality.


August 19th, 2010 at 7:08 PM ^

I've been in AZ for almost 5 years now and I root for all things Michigan! I started to root for the Suns last season (to beat the Lakers) and that was the only time I've ever rooted for a Phoenix team.


I've been to a bunch of ASU football games, but that's more or less to just watch football and have a good time. (Tailgating is a blast)




August 19th, 2010 at 7:26 PM ^

I was born in Atlanta and moved to Detroit when I was pretty young.  For my favorite pro sports(football and baseball)  I'm a diehard Atlanta fan, but for the others I just tend to pull for the Detroit teams because my friends do.  I do enjoy when the Tigers and Lions(okay this never happens) do well though.


August 19th, 2010 at 7:28 PM ^

Actually this might be the forum to ask this question. Can you guys settle a multi-year long dispute I've had with one of my friends. He was born and raised in metro-Detroit yet is a Steelers and Red Sox fan.  He roots for the Red WIngs and Pistons, but as you can see those two have been good for most of my lifetime(I'm 19).  Does this make him a bandwagon fan?


August 19th, 2010 at 7:53 PM ^

Well that makes sense. His "reason" is that he got a Kordell Stewart jersey when he was younger and that he got a Red Sox hat.  I guess that's no more arbitrary than just rooting for teams where you were born.  I give him flack because his brother is an all Detroit sports teams guy(and has suffered accordingly) and he claims he's liked those teams "even when they weren't good" which, as you alluded to, hasn't happened yet in my short lifetime(he also has too much affinity for Spartan basketball for a U of M guy but that's neither here nor there)


August 19th, 2010 at 8:04 PM ^

You never know.  There's still a New York Mets poster on my wall in my old room because my Little League team that won the championship was the Mets.  So as an 11-year-old I had this thing for the Mets.  Not that I'd have suddenly been a Mets fan in an imaginary Tigers-Mets Series, but hey.

(P.S. "when" was supposed to be "until" but you beat me to the punch you lightning fingered maniac you.  But it's all the same thing really.)


August 20th, 2010 at 6:40 AM ^

I tend not to question people's allegiances unless it's blatant bandwagoning (ie. LeBron). There's a lot that goes into it and factors like where your parents are from are sometimes more important than where you're from and that's totally cool.

For example, my cousins in Columbus are all Tigers, Wings and Pistons fans because their parents are from Detroit and, in an environment where every pro team was 2+ hours away, it just made sense for them to adopt their parents routing interests. They're also Michigan fans, even though one went to Ohio State, so I tend to be much less shocked by people who cheer against their alma mater.


August 19th, 2010 at 9:46 PM ^

A buddy of mine grew up in Iowa and so he picked his sports teams based on who was good in the 90's.  He's a Braves (saw all the games on tbs), Cowboys, Penguins and Bulls fan.  To his credit he has stuck with it ever since I have known him, and while he is now a die hard Michigan fan, he takes his fair share of crap for being an Iowa State fan as well.


August 19th, 2010 at 7:30 PM ^

... to root for Seattle teams.  I will always root for Detroit based teams first.  The Seattle teams are great to cheer on, but I feel no pain if they do not do well.

Caveat: Sounders soccer is awesome and I am building a more emotional connection with that organization.


August 20th, 2010 at 1:02 PM ^

I doubt it.  I'm in a similar situation: I recently moved to Philly and am now a big Union fan, but that's the only Philly team I really care about.  I choose my loyalties based on what team I follow first in any league.  This is why I'm still Michigan fan despite not actually going there. 


August 19th, 2010 at 7:31 PM ^

I am starting to lose interest in pro sports in general, but there is zero chance I could ever switch my allegience from any Detroit pro team to another.  Not a chance in hell. 


August 19th, 2010 at 7:45 PM ^

And could never see myself switching to any non-Philly professional team. I have never lived anywhere else so I guess I really never had a reason to try and root for anyone else. What is weird is that I have no ties to Michigan but I have loved Michigan sports for as long as I can remember.  


August 19th, 2010 at 7:48 PM ^

I've lived within the sphere of influence of three major pro sports metros (Washington, Seattle, Boston) and have never felt the tiniest shred of temptation to drop my loyalty to the Detroit teams.  It would take a betrayal of Baltimore Colts proportions for me to quit those allegiances.  Even in the case of (sigh) (stabs eyes out) the Lions.

I do tend to root for the local minor league teams - I have a Norfolk Admirals jersey in my closet that's basically a Blackhawks jersey with a different logo - but not the major league ones.


August 19th, 2010 at 8:02 PM ^

I grew up in Minnesota and remain a fan of all pro sports from MN.  I went to school at Michigan, and therefore college sports will always be Blue for me.

The only exception for my pro sports allegiances is that I am a Red Wings fan (in addition to the Wild.  I boycotted the NHL for several years after the North Stars moved south.  This was after I had moved to MI, so I had to choose whether I wanted to never watch pro hockey or to pick a new team.  I adopted the Red Wings (happened to be right during their first cup run), as it was my adopted home town team.  When MN got the Wild, I did decide to cheer for them in addition to the Red Wings.  The only challenge I have, then, is who to cheer for when the two teams play.  I usually go for whomever the specific game means more to (usually ends up being RW).


August 19th, 2010 at 8:20 PM ^

but I stopped being a real Lions fan over 25 years ago, which was already two decades into the manifest incompetence of the William Clay Ford regime. Since I spent summers out in Colorado as a kid I used to follow the Broncos back when they were in the AFL, and I'm still more of a Denver fan than Detroit. I also root a bit for the Bears. If/when the Fords give up their stranglehold on that poor franchise then I might have a reason to go back to rooting for them, although I also hate teams that play indoors. That's one reason I also like the Broncos and the Bears. It's why I hate seeing UM guys end up on the Lions... it's a career killer.


August 19th, 2010 at 9:26 PM ^

My only problem with your Bears fandom is the (perceived?) rivalry between the two cities.  Being younger than you, my hatred of all things Chicago (minus the lovable Cubs) comes from the Bulls/Pistons in the 80's.  Due to MJ and Pippen, the rest of the city is off limits.

Not that I get a say in who you root for.


August 19th, 2010 at 8:33 PM ^

I've been in Michigan my entire life and I don't think it would be possible, even if I really tried, to switch my allegiences. I just have so much emotional investment in these teams that I couldn't drop them. I was born in 1989 so I was rooting for the Tigers when they were wretched, Wings have been good most of my life, Barry Sanders has been the only Lions highlight during my lifetime and the Pistons have been both good and bad. I just can't see myself rooting for someone over them. I like teams in addition to the Detroit teams [Reds, Raiders, and Kings(JMFJ), no NBA team becuase I hate the NBA]. But none of those teams come close to my allegience to Detroit. It is hard for me to respect the fandom of people that switch their allegiences based on success (aka bandwagoners) and IMO, those guys aren't real fans. Location is a different argument, and if this weren't the 21st Century, I'd say there could be a solid argument made for switching allegiences based on proximity, but there are limitless ways to keep up with your team today, so I'm not sure it matters. 


August 19th, 2010 at 9:23 PM ^

It's sort of amazing there are any Tiger fans your age since the Tigers were the blandest, least interesting team ever in the Randy Smith era during your formative years as a fan.  There was Bobby Higginson and that was basically it.

Course, one of my earliest memories of the Tigers was them being so shitty that it drove poor Sparky back to California for a while with exhaustion, whatever that meant health-wise.  But at least I got to see a colorful and exciting team when I was old enough to know what that was.  Who did you get to watch growing up?  Juan Encarnacion?  Deivi Cruz?  Blah.


August 20th, 2010 at 12:12 PM ^

I grew up being very confused as a kid because the Wings were always very good and the Tigers were terrible. I didn't understand why Ilitch was wiling to spend money on the hockey team while ignoring the diamond. Even as a kid I knew Randy Smith was trash and I can't believe we kept him in the front office as long as we did.

My favorite player as a kid was Bobby Higgonson, yeah, I know, rough sailing for a young Tigers fan.


August 20th, 2010 at 12:20 AM ^

Still a Wild/Twins/Vikings fan first and foremost (I have no interest whatsoever in the NBA), though I adopted the Wings as a secondary rooting interest while in school. Now that I'm in Austin, I half expect to pick up some secondary rooting interests there (probably the Texans and Astros, since they're in opposite conferences from the Vikings and Twins; I will never root for the Dallas Stars after they left Minnesota). Already have started to root for some of the minor league teams in the area (the AHL Texas Stars - yes, I know this is going to mess with my head when those players get called up to The Evil Team -  and the minor-league soccer Austin Aztex).


August 20th, 2010 at 6:11 AM ^

You don't just get to pick a team, period. There has to be some kind of real and tangible connection, otherwise it's doomed to fail. 9 times out of 10, that connection is formed from location... but even then, I know people who are Tigers fans because the Tigers meant so much to their parents, etc.

I tried, when I was in high school, to ditch the Tigers and Lions (for the Angels and Ravens, who I felt were more deserving because they were radder), but it didn't take. I've kind of ditched the Pistons, at first because I was put off by the "going to work" campaign and the bandwagon fans who came out of the woodwork (which was annoying to someone who suffered through an empty Palace in the teal and maroon era) but now more because I just lost interest in basketball. If pressed, I'll say my favorite NBA team is the Clippers, but that's more of a protest than anything serious.

I think it's possible for affiliations to change over time if you develop a new connection to a team or something... but to just say "Okay, I moved so now I'm an *insert city* fan" is just lame and stupid.

Also, big pet peeve of mine, it's FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES. "Intensive purposes" doesn't make any effing sense. I know this was pointed out already, but fuck it.


August 20th, 2010 at 7:42 AM ^

In the western half of the place above all other places in Michigan, people tend to be Packer fans. We had a family friend that played NT for the Dolphins, though, so I was also a Dolphins fan growing up. I still have his autographed picture somewhere.


August 20th, 2010 at 8:05 AM ^

there will be no more surprised fan in the world than me. It's not that I root actively against the Lions—I simply stopped truly caring. I just don't have any interest in having my nuts kicked in repeatedly by athletes and coaches who are making more money in a season than I'll make in years of busting my ass in my job.

This is completely different from my feelings about supporting UM. I'm a graduate of the school, as was my grandfather (who attended UM games during the first four years of Yost's tenure), and I root for UM in any sport unquestionably and unreservedly regardless of circumstance.

J. Lichty

August 20th, 2010 at 10:28 AM ^

this Bill Simmons column (look at the loyalties section) should pretty much settle it.



19. Once you choose a team, you're stuck with that team for the rest of your life ... unless one of the following conditions applies:

  • Your team moves to another city. All bets are off when that happens. In fact, if you decided to turn off that sport entirely, nobody would blame you.
  • You grew up in a city that didn't field a team for a specific sport -- so you picked a random team -- and then either a.) your city landed a team, or b.) you moved to a city that fielded a team for that specific sport. For instance, one of my Connecticut buddies rooted for the Sixers during the Doctor J Era, then happened to be living in Orlando when the Magic came to town. Now he's a Magic fan. That's acceptable.
  • One of your immediate family members either plays professionally or takes a relevant management/coaching/front office position with a pro team.
  • You follow your favorite college star (and this has to be a once-in-a-generation favorite college star) to the pros and root for his team du jour ... like if you were a UNC fan for the past 20 years, and you rooted for the Bulls (because of MJ) and then the Raptors (because of Vince). Only works if there isn't a pro team in your area.
  • The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore -- you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge. Just for the record, I reached this point with the Boston Bruins about six years ago. When it happens, you have two options: You can either renounce that team and pick someone else, or you can pretend they're dead, like you're a grieving widow. That's what I do. I'm an NHL widow. I don't even want to date another team.
  • At least give me a reason like "Reggie Jackson was my favorite player growing up," or "I always liked the red Bulls uniforms," or even "Everyone in my gang wore Raiders colors." Do you really want to be known as a bona fide Bandwagon Jumper?




  • 931 S State

    August 20th, 2010 at 11:39 AM ^

    The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore -- you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge. Just for the record, I reached this point with the Boston Bruins about six years ago. When it happens, you have two options: You can either renounce that team and pick someone else, or you can pretend they're dead, like you're a grieving widow. That's what I do. I'm an NHL widow. I don't even want to date another team.

    So, Ford/Lions obviously applies here.  Could probably make the argument that Illitch did this during the beginning of the Wings era of dominance when he wasn't spending money on the Tigers.  Obviously, that has changed since the middle of last decade.