THIS + THAT: Regional loyalty in the sports world

The Vermont Journal and The Shopper’s coverage area includes five high schools. Alphabetically, they are Bellows Falls, Black River, Fall Mountain, Green Mountain, and Springfield, and they all have their supporters. In general, if one lives in an area, they root for that team.

There are, at times, oddities, which camouflage one’s rooting interests though. The most prevalent examples would be a person who grows up in one town and moves nearby or a person who grows up elsewhere and, although they live in one of our communities, chose never to jump on any bandwagon.

In short, local interests are usually cut and dry.

When it comes time for area fans to support professional and college sports, the majority forges together and gives their loyalty to their closest teams. Obviously, there are more Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox fans than anything else around here. Each of those sports has fans who grew up here and fans who have migrated here while cheering for other teams. But the overwhelming majority are New England sports fans.

This time of year really makes my head hurt. Monday night, three New England teams were in action all at the same time. If you are one of those fans who craves, smells, and consumes every sport, what do you do? You obviously, either prioritize, or, you flip your remote so many times, your batteries have to be replaced.

Oh, what it would be like to be young again! This is the truth. There were days of heavy sports action, especially in the spring and the fall, that I would situate myself in a hallway at my house, so I could catch our two televisions and watch two games, and then have two radios beside me to bring in two more.

The most important and satisfying part of that experience of my youth was that I could keep track of all four games and could ace any quiz you threw my way. Keeping track of two games at the same time today can challenge me. Certainly, don’t give me a quiz.

Boy, back then those were the days.

Strangely, I’ve found, football has the most unique rooting interests in these parts. More fans of other teams are prone to wear their colors in public than any other sport. This is true in our five high schools and throughout New England.

Area rooters are clearly worthy of calling this Patriot country, but I really think when it comes to a breakdown, football has more non-Patriot fans who grew up here than any other professional sport. One of the reasons for that is, there are probably more professional football fans among the local ranks than any other sport.

A couple of more things about area Patriot fans. About 75 percent of them are really intense. And well more than half of that 75 percent are Patriot-blind. Whatever their team does is right, even if it is cheating. I am a Patriot fan, but there are areas of their approach, which make me uncomfortable. In my mind, Bill Belichick is clearly the greatest coach of all time, but his ways have a way of wearing on the people around him. He is at a point in his career that many of his most devoted disciples are openly questioning his approach and decision-making. It frightens me that the ending may not be what it should be.

By the way, be observant of shirts, hats, etc. worn by area football fans. If you keep track, correspond with me at bmurphy@vermontjournal.com to weigh in with your numbers.

Although football now rules the popularity meter locally, for most of my life the Red Sox were clearly the number one choice for sports enthusiasts. The Red Sox are right up there – football and baseball are eons ahead of basketball and hockey in popularity – but football marketed itself better and moved to the top.

Those of you choosing not to root for area teams have lost out lately. The New England area has won hands down more professional sports titles than any part of the country since the turn of the century.

There are several cities that have more than one sports team in a particular sport and thus more chances to win, but there is no location that sees more playoff teams on a regular basis than New England. During the last two cycles, New England has been represented in the post season by every sport, two years running. Wow!

Look at how things stand today, the Red Sox have the absolute best record in baseball and both the Celtics and the Bruins have a chance to advance to their Eastern Conference Finals.

So readers, cheer on your teams, and in addition, find out a way to fit in a sports event or two at your area high school. The weather right now has warmed up, giving you a chance to take in some action and enjoy the outdoors air.

 

Feel free to write me with comments, questions, or story ideas about this column or anything that appears on the sports page. Contact me at bmurphy@vermontjournal.com.

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