How Did You Originally Choose Your Favorite Sports Teams?

I always find it fascinating to learn how people choose the teams they root for. There’s a wide spectrum of answers, from lineage (you root for the team your dad roots for) to location (whether it’s where you’re from or where you were when you started caring about the sport) to pure coincidence (the underdog you picked for a March Madness bracket actually won; now you root for them). Sometimes they’re highly personal answers; other times it’s much more matter of fact: Of course I root for X team, why wouldn’t I?

Here’s how I came to root for my teams (in descending order of how much I care about the teams):

NFL: San Francisco 49ers. A long time ago, I was sitting at the lunch table in fourth grade when the kid next to me asked me which team I was rooting for in the Super Bowl. I had never heard of this sporting event, so I asked what my options were. Turns out the San Francisco 49ers were playing a team called the Cincinnati Bengals. I liked the sound of a team from the faraway, exotic San Francisco, and the Bengals sounded mean, so I went with the 49ers. They won the Super Bowl, and I’ve rooted for them ever since. There were a few years when I actually rooted for the Redskins, which my extended family roots for, and the Rams, which were awesome when I came out to St. Louis for college, but a few years ago I decided to be a one-team man. The 49ers are that team, and I hope they win this weekend!

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals. Growing up, the minor league team in Richmond fed into the Atlanta Braves system, but for some reason I could never root for the Braves. So cocky and southern. So my loyalties were up for grabs when I moved out to St. Louis, and I soon found that I loved that everyone in this city roots for the Cardinals no matter how old you are. The most unassuming people know detailed statistics about the Cards. I’m not a die-hard fan, but I’ve rooted for them the past 12 years.

Soccer: I need to settle on a club team for soccer, because it’s my favorite of all sports. I’ve rooted for Manchester United for a while, and I have an awesome Man U jacket, but deep down inside, I’ve suspected for quite some time that I’m a Tottenham fan. I recently learned that they’re from London, which slightly diminishes my feelings for them (I was hoping they were from a smaller town), but we’ll see how that turns out. When it comes to national teams, I tend to root for Team USA until they play terrible soccer, which is usually about 2 minutes into the World Cup. Then my loyalties switch over to Japan or the team playing the most beautiful game.

College Football: My father went to UVa, and I went to summer camp there when I was younger, so I generally root for UVa for college football and other college sports. When I moved away from Virginia, I found myself rooting for any college team in Virginia, which doesn’t make sense at all, because UVa and Virginia Tech have a fierce rivalry. But it is what it is.

I left out college basketball,  professional basketball, and hockey–I don’t have consistent teams that I root for in those sports.

How did you originally choose your sports teams? You can include individual sports too, like tennis or golf. And yes, Trev, you may include imaginary sports that should exist.

18 thoughts on “How Did You Originally Choose Your Favorite Sports Teams?”

  1. MLB: St. Louis Cardinals – because from when I was a kid growing up in central Illinois, the only options to choose from were the Cubs or Cards (other teams weren’t even considered). And because every other kid I knew picked the Cubs and I wanted to be different so I went with the Cardinals. My mom and Grandma are also fans. My 2nd team would be the Cincinnati Reds (I know, I know) but that is ONLY because my favorite baseball player is Scott Rolen – who became my favorite player when he played for the Cardinals. Before he got traded to the Reds, Toronto would have been my #2 team. I’m weird like that.

    College Basketball: Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE Syracuse basketball fan. This is relatively “new” as I’ve only been a Syracuse fan for the past 7 years or so. One of my best friends is from Syracuse and when we used to live in the same city we would watch college basketball together. I’ve always been a big fan of college basketball, so this wasn’t anything new, but my alma mater (SIUC) started playing poorly during those years and Syracuse has always been good. I hate to say I’m a fairweather fan of my own university, but it kinda seems that way. With Syracuse, however, I have stuck with them even when they’ve had controvery (molestation accusations) and played poorly (last year’s NCAA tournament). I’m Orange through and through.

    Any other sports… meh, don’t care.

    • Absolutely true about central IL and Cubs/Cards Jill! My mom grew up in East St. Louis (it used to be so different!) and my dad was from Chicago, so I had my pick of who to align with. This means I had a Cardinals shirt, a Bulls starter jacket, and generally rooted for the Bears, especially since they played in Champaign for one season. I will always like Illini basketball and the Cardinals, but beyond that, I pretty much enjoy sports without taking sides.

  2. In order of descending loyalty:

    Pro Wrestling: Jerry Lawler. For someone from Memphis, there’s simply no other choice. I grew up in the heyday of Memphis wrestling, when they would sometimes draw 9,000 people to the Mid South Coliseum and the local news would report the results of the matches. The Lawler/Austin Idol feud was one of the formative experiences of my youth. I have never celebrated over a sporting accomplishment as much as I did when Lawler took the AWA World Title from Curt Hennig. I was there the night Lawler fought the Snowman. I watched in horror when Eddie Gilbert ran him over in the parking lot. I worked on his campaign for mayor in 1999. Jerry Lawler always has been and always will be my sports hero.

    Basketball: Memphis Tigers. 100% of Memphians love the Tigers. It’a fact. I’ve never met anyone from Memphis who does not simultaneously love the Tigers and hate watching them play. We’re way too involved. We know these players. We refer to all the players by their first name. We tell all our friends when we see them in Kroger buying Wheat Thins and a box of condoms.

    Baseball: Cardinals. My parents took me to a game in 1989, where Ozzie signed my baseball. Done. My dad and I still go to a game every year. I absolutely love the sea of red.

    Tennis: Andre Agassi. Growing up, who else would it have been? Pete Sampras? Jim Courier? Yevgeny Kafelnikov? No, thank you. Image is everything. A little part of me died when I found out the mullet was a weave.

  3. Yay! An item that I can sink my teeth into.

    Well, you know which Football team but for your loyal readers, I am the Steelers fan. Gosh, well, I am from PA and the Steelers represent generations of people, blue (and white) collar from the mills and the three rivers area.
    First stadium, in fact, was Three Rivers, now it’s the newer Heinz field.
    Seeing that stadium fill up with black and gold jerseys is a true phenomenon. Plus, out here in LA, in Manhattan Beach, bunches of sport our jerseys proudly over brew. The terrible towel waves all over this nation as well as abroad, as actors from Mexico, and that country’s first lady, are also “Fans Acereros.”
    Go Steelers! 😉

    MLB: Bahston. I have pretty much have always followed the Red Sox. Some call me a glutton for punishment but last year, and when they won the series a few years back, I felt redeemed. Ellsbury, who deserves his merit raise, has a spark that I feel was lost in the sport. How big is my love for the sox? Well, aside from screaming really loudly when they play the Yanks, I have watched their comic-tribute film, Fever Pitch (yes, with Drew and Jimmy Fallon), probably way too many times. My writing partner, Luis, is also a huge Sox fan. Aside from writing and catching up on Mexican politics, [all we talk about] it’s Soxmania.

    Soccer/Futbol/Football: I have a team for each region it seems. All about the Yanks first. I wish Langdon Donovan had stayed on but he will hopefully play in Brazil’s Cup for 2014. Internationally, I am a Chivas fan! The word Chivas means goats but in Football speak, they are one of the premiere soccer teams in Mexico. Europe? Grew up with Barca. Barca! Barcelona kicks booty.

    College: AZ State. Devils football has been consistent in the PAC 12 and national arena. This season not so much but I’m very proud.
    Secondly, not by much, the Nittany Lions. And, I want to publicly state that although I don’t condone what happened, Joe Paterno is a legend.

    BBall: P Suns. Wish that they still had KJ and Majerle playing along with Steve Nash.

  4. Growing up, I was an Auburn fan because my entire family went there and I didn’t know any better.

    Then I went to college at the University of Alabama, which is Auburn’s biggest rival, and I became an Alabama fan. (ROOOOLLLL TIDE ROLL!)

    When I moved to Spain, I went to a Real Madrid game and fell completely in love. (Hala Madrid!)

    So mostly location, I guess. Except for the Auburn thing, which was more or less brainwashing.

  5. This is fun, I’ll chime in.

    So when I was a kid I rooted for the 49ers, Lakers, Braves, Duke basketball, Pete Sampras, Martina Navratilova, Dale Earnhart and pretty much anyone else who won a lot because I was a kid and all kids in small market cities are by definition bandwagoners. But when I grew up I put childish ways behind me and I dropped pretty much all of my bandwagonning and for the most part started to hate all of those teams (well I really only hate Duke and the Braves because they are evil, I still like the rest well enough).

    Virginia Tech in all sports is the only team I really care about anymore and to a large degree I let that sway my professional cheering. I come by my VT fandom honestly. My dad went there and I used to be the only kid in Richmond wearing VT crap (because they didn’t sell VT crap in Richmond when we were kids, everything was uva everywhere). But even better than just being a legacy my history with VT football is perfectly aligned with our rise to prominence (yes, I am part of it). My family started getting season tickets in 1995, the very year that we started 0-2 and then went on a 10 game win streak and won the Sugar Bowl. Then my freshman year at Tech was 1999 when we went undefeated in the regular season and played for the national championship. So I’m proud to say I am not a bandwagon Hokie, I’ve been there from the beginning (the beginning of our recent success, I was not there for the founding of the school in 1872). Beyond that I cheer for the following:

    NFL: which ever team has the most prominent Hokies, right now, the Eagles. Currently in the playoffs we don’t have too many prominent Hokies (we do have a back up QB on the Ravens, so I’ll root for them over the Bradys), so I’ll probably just root for the niners for old times sake.

    MLB: I was a big Braves fan for a long time because, like Jamey said, our minor league team was a Braves feeder and the southern cockiness didn’t bother me, in fact it was awesome, but then they stabbed my city in the back and now I hate them and I’ve pretty much lost all interest in baseball because of it. I’d like to be a Nationals fan, but that just seems like a miserable life so I’m waiting til they sign Prince Fielder to make that jump (did he sign with anyone yet?)

    NBA: yea, who cares? I did get to see the Lakers last year in the only NBA game I’ve ever been to (and Jack was there!), so that makes me feel like less of a bandwagon fan and I do have one friend who lives in LA, but whatever.

    NHL: what?

    Tennis: Roger Federer. I hated him for many years when people used to say he was better than Sampras (“how could possibly that be true?!?!”) but then I realized that he was better, way better, and that he plays the most beautiful game of tennis imaginable. Beyond the Fed I just root for Americans, which is tough cause the men never make it past the second, but at least we’ve still got Serena, for now. Also, I root for anyone who plays Nadal because that little brat is NOT better than Fed and this time I’m not changing my mind!

  6. My mom is a Cards’ fan, and I guess I got hooked. She’d always listen to the game on the radio while she did the dishes of an evening. I grew up in NE Missouri, so it was either Cards or Cubs. Mostly Cards territory, due to sharing a state w/ STL. (And also because the Cubs suck.)

    Also, I’ve hated the Braves ever since ’96. So, points to the blogger for renouncing his Chipper citizenship.

      • I’m from the village of Medill, which is sort of a suburb of Kahoka, if you know were that is. Clark Co. R-1, if you’re scoring at home. How about yourself?

        • Oh yeah, I used to hang with someone from Kahoka! Clark Co. R-1, that’s awesome. 🙂

          Don’t get too jealous–I’m from the whopping metropolis of Kirksville. Go Tigers!

  7. I think this is the first time ever on the blog when I’ve been perfectly happy just sitting back and watching the comments roll in. Thank you all for sharing your sports connections.

  8. When I was a wee little wunkin, I’d go over to my grandpa’s house and watch his TV because my family didn’t own one. (Acknowledgement: That statement makes me sound 85 years old, which I’m not.)

    At first, TV, in and of itself, was a magical thing worth watching (Ooh! Look at the miniature people inside that tiny box!), but after a while I realized that ALL GRANDPA EVER WATCHED was Cubs Baseball. This irked me, since there’s a profound lack of My Little Ponies, toy commercials, and cartoons involved in Cubs baseball. To keep me complacent, Grandpa would give me 1 peanut M&M for every inning I watched without complaining. (Acknowledgement: I was a cheaply-bought child.)

    To this day, I’m an M&M’s fan. I might also be a Cubs fan, but that loyalty lies far less deeply than the M&M’s fixation.

    P.S. College Basketball: University of Arizona, with a wistful sigh for the bygone Lute Olsen days.

  9. I like this topic.

    Mine are in no particular order:

    NFL: Redskins and Steelers. I’m a Redskins fan because of location and because they were playing in the first Super Bowl I can remember watching when I was a kid. My parents told me I should go for them because they were close and Buffalo was far away. I’ a Steelers fan for a much dumber reason. When I was a kid, my older brother had a friend I had a crush on and he liked the Steelers. So, I decided to like the Steelers. Twenty years later, I’m still a Steelers fan. I’ll also root for Green Bay when they’re not playing the Redskins or the Steelers. They were my grandfather’s team and Boogie Henderson was from my town so there’s a bit of allegiance there. I’ll also be a fan of any team playing the Patriots. Be they a rival from the NFC East or the AFC North…I don’t care. I’m hoping the 49ers win the NFC because they remind me of watching football when I was a kid and I’m happy they’re relevant again. I might also still have a crush on Steve Young.

    College Football: Hokies. First, I’m an alum. Additionally, my mom is a Hokie fan who didn’t get to go there because her family couldn’t afford it so I grew up liking them and when I went there, I literally said “I am so lucky to be here” every day I walked across the Drillfield. Like an earlier poster, my freshman year was also the year we went to the national championship after going undefeated in the regular season.

    College Basketball: Hokies, of course, and unless they’re playing the Hokies, UNC. My fiance and his father are die-hard UNC fans and to keep the peace, I will hope they win unless they’re playing VT. Like last night. When they won, ugh.

    MLB: I honestly don’t care much about baseball at all. I wouldn’t call myself a fan per se, but I like it when the Cardinals win. When we came in for Trev’s wedding last year, we went to a game the night we got in to town. The stadium was absolutely gorgeous, we got $3 tickets and the people of St. Louis, not just at the game but the whole weekend, were extremely nice. So, you know, go St. Louis. They also gave us free tote bags. I’ve never gotten free tote bags at Redskins games…

    • Emily–I’m particularly intrigued by the last bit about the Cardinals. I think it speaks volumes about how businesses make first impressions. I bet there are a handful of out-of-towners at every Cardinals game, and maybe some of their loyalties are up for grabs. The Cardinals can either make a great first impression and have you slightly favor them from then on, or they can do the bare minimum to get you in the door and in your seat.

      Treat every customer like you have the chance to win them over for a lifetime. Both new customers nor existing customers will love being treated this way.

  10. Time to stir the pot…

    I have always been incredibly disappointed by Busch Stadium. Yes, anything is an improvement over the outdoor Astroturf, but these are the Cardinals. They could have done so much more. There should be a Cardinal legend signing autographs at the door of every games. The 11 World Series trophies should be the first thing you see inside the main gate. Where is the mural of Cardinals history? Where’s the museum? Why do they even acknowledge Mark McGwire? Where is the exhibit where you try to steal a base faster than Vince Coleman or Lou Brock? How about a game where you try to reenact Ozzie’s greatest catches? Or try to make 17 pitching changes in an hour like La Russa?

    I just think there is a lot of Cardinal history that has been left out. (Covering head to guard against rotten fruit being thrown.)


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