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Conundrums of Fandom: Hating a Team but Loving a Player

The thing that makes ETSF tick is we speak as fans. Sure, we take pride in understanding the game and delivering stories in a thoughtful and educated manner, but when it’s all said and done, we are fans of the game. We’re not experts; we didn’t go to school to learn how to do this. We’re just some cats who love the game, the culture, and plenty of what sports encompasses.

People don’t come here for recaps; they don’t come here for stats. Besides, there are plenty of other sites who do that way better than us. However, what we will do, as I said in the beginning, is speak as fans. We’ll call fans the most misunderstood species in the world. We’ll also call them out for stupidity or their sensitivity. Today is another example; another conundrum that fans face: being fans of players of teams you absolutely hate.

Note: To avoid any confusion, the idea isn’t to root for the team of the player you love. We covered that in August when we discussed the trials of fans and possibly being labeled a bandwagoner. Instead, it’s just accepting the fact they are a part of a team you hate, loathe, and despise.

For example, I hate the Lakers, but Lamar Odom is my dude, and has been since the old days when he was on a cover of SLAM with Darius Miles and a boot-licking, backstabbing, bad knee having, Benedict Arnold-ass dude whose name is no longer mentioned on this website. I can even go as far back as the days of Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, and young Shaq, and Kobe (pre-Rookie Game). It goes in line with the whole “game recognizes game” thing. Sure, I don’t care for the Lakers; never have, and especially about 98% of their fan base, but I’m a huge fan of Lamar Odom.

Now I bring up Odom, because there are some Laker fans (I won’t name names *coughs* Eddie B.) who can’t stand the man, but he’s a big part of why the Lakers won back-to-back championships.

Granted, Odom sucked in the 2008 Finals, but their entire front line was a disgrace in that series. Plus, make no mistake about it; they might have been able to beat Orlando in 2009 without him, but there’s no way in life they beat Boston last year if he’s not out there. However, leave it to Lakers fans to once again prove to be the definition of ungrateful. They don’t deserve to have the man play for their team, because they fail to realize how big his impact truly is. This is making me sick, so let’s just move on.

The Dallas Cowboys are my favorite team, yet my two favorite players of all-time have ties to the Philadelphia Eagles, a sad state of affairs that The Reverend Paul Revere finds hilarious and disgusting at the same time. In the old days when Donovan McNabb played for the Eagles and faced off against the Cowboys, it was the worst feeling in the world. Hell, I still remember this play and being flabbergasted, angry, irate, but also being fascinated, thrilled, and laughing at the same time:

It’s become even worse now that Michael Vick plays for them. See, with McNabb, there wasn’t as much hatred for him from people as it is with Vick, so when Vick plays, I want him to do well not only for his team, but to get the naysayers off his back. Surely, he can’t get rid of all of them, but enough will have to check their conscience at the door. However, it comes at the expense of my sports sanity, because I despise the Philadelphia Eagles about as much as any team there is in professional sports. It’s truly a conflicting feeling.

Honestly, if the Eagles win the Super Bowl with him as their leader, it won’t even bother me. At the same time, Eagles fans are so repulsive, disgusting and despicable that it pains me to even type it, let alone speak that possibility into existence.

It was the same with Vince Young and Texas. Ed can co-sign on this. We HATE the University of Texas, but when Vince was ostracized by his own people, we felt the need to stand up for the man. Well, standing up for the man costed us our peace-of-mind when Young led the Horns to two Rose Bowls in a row, including a National Championship. To this day, VY gets love on ETSF, despite his decision to attend school on 35 South.

So for fans, what should be done about this? What do you when players you love play for your bitter rival? We’ve talked about dating women who are fans of your rival, but that’s totally different. Shoot, you can easily never see them again, but when it comes to this here thing we love called sports, it’s not just that simple to ask some of your favorite players to go away. Do you deal with conflicting feelings of allegiance, or do you say “to hell with the player” and just ride for your team over all else? If it was an easy answer, then it would eliminate part of what makes the experience of being a fan so fascinating.

Be easy.
-K. Masenda
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!


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