Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Why I'm Rooting for Pittsburgh in Two Weeks

King Kaufman, the resident sportswriter over at often refers to a complex calculus of teams that he roots for. This idea has fascinated me for a while, as I am often watching national sports broadcasts (and postseason contests in particular) without one of my hard-wired favorites participating.

Rather than turn off the television, I find myself relying on my own twisted matrix of fandom in order to pick a side, so that I may enjoy the glory of victory or agony of defeat when the contest ends.

What follows is the now-dubbed H.G. Miller Fan Funnel. In essence, this chart puts into perspective how exactly I jam the various sports teams of the world into my rootin’ heart and thusly illuminates who gets the love when I turn on the tube.

The chart can be read from left to right and top to bottom in terms of importance. There are several easy factors in terms of who I root for, and they become more complicated as you move through the morass:

  1. Home Teams Come First – The Royals, Chiefs and Jayhawks are the kings of this particular heap, for no other reason than I don’t know what life is like to NOT root for them.

  2. Secondary Home Teams – The next level is populated by those teams I saw a lot of on TV. The Cubs and Bulls can thank WGN for my support. The Braves fit into this category. K-State football was a worthwhile endeavor during my formative years. My parents lived in Dallas for a few years and that Mark Cuban is a kook, so the Mavs also make the list.

  3. Rivals' Opponents – One of the easiest emotions to muster when lazily flipping channels on TV is pure, unadulterated hate. Thus, I’ll throw my cheers towards whoever is playing the Broncos and Raiders, or whatever Division II school is giving Missouri a run for their money.

  4. Relatives – If my team isn’t playing, I at least want the bloodlines to do well. Whether it’s a fellow conference school (except Mizzou), an assistance coach done well (say, Bill Cower) or a former graduate riding the pine (“Look! A clip of Wayne Simien during pre-game warm-ups with Shaq!”), I’ll feign interest to the point of an excited intake of breath when something goes right for “my team.”

  5. Geographically Relevant – I live in Southern California, so if the Angels or Dodgers are doing well, I’ll applaud them. If I cared about hockey, I’d be all about the Kings, and I’ll accept a free pair of Clippers tickets when their offered (they aren’t that hard to come by).

  6. The Cram Down – When there are no connections to be found, I generally default to whoever the underdog team happens to be. Whether it’s Alcorn State getting throttled by Miami (the one in Florida) in football, or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays mounting a late-inning comeback against the Red Sox, I’ll cheer them on. And, when it’s two mid-major schools playing college basketball at midnight on ESPN2, I’ll just flip a mental coin and put my interest into whoever has a more-pleasing jersey color, funnier mascot, or star player with a hopelessly-unpronounceable last name.

So, there you have it. I’m glad we cleared this all up.

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