I grew up in a state without a single professional sports franchise. I used to think it was the best way to grow up. You got to watch games objectively and got to choose your teams based on what you saw, what players they had, and essentially could make up whatever rationale you wanted for rooting for a certain team. You weren’t born into fandom, and I loved that.
A couple of years ago, I moved to Minnesota. I adopted the Wild because I never had an NHL team prior to that and their minor league affiliate was in the state from which I came. Natural fit. I adopted the Timberwolves because my NBA team had changed about 30 times in the previous 20 years. Now I had a reason to pick one. I stuck with the Dolphins and Angels because my ties were deeper and I saw no reason to change.
Then I moved to the Twin Cities.
You see, I always thought living in a professional sports city was overrated. My teams picked me. Watching Dan Marino play drew me to the Dolphins. Watching Mike Scioscia’s early teams play fast NL style baseball in a steroid infused AL drew me to the Angels. I was never tied to a team simply because I was from the city.
These days, I go to the bank and everyone is wearing Vikings polos. I go to gas stations and pump my gas with a Vikings handle. I win Twins tickets in work raffles, and listen to water cooler chats about how the Twins can rebuild their currently struggling franchise. It’s everywhere I go.
I drink Bud Light from Minnesota Vikings cans. I catch Twins games to help relate to friends and coworkers to fit in as an outsider. This city and state loves their teams and they’re proud to be supportive of them. They haven’t experienced overwhelming success with the exception of the Minnesota Lynx. That doesn’t matter to anyone. The people of Minnesota don’t act like they were born into fandom. Minnesotans don’t play the victim card or act like it’s a burden to support a team that’s never won a Super Bowl. They don’t bail on a 103-loss Twins team, they look at the young players in their beautiful stadium and prepare for the future. It’s this beautiful relationship between the fans and the franchises and they’re reeling me in with each passing day.
Meanwhile, my current baseball team can’t decide if they’re from Los Angeles, Anaheim or just the state of California. My football team goes through coaches about as frequently as the Cleveland Browns go through quarterbacks. If they don’t have a consistent identity, am I even supporting the same things I was when I chose them?
I always looked at it as a blessing when I got to watch the Dolphins and Angels on TV considering they were more than 1,500 miles away from me. Now I can catch every single game of any Minnesota franchise that I desire. I used to think my fandom was unwavering because I chose those teams. Now Minnesota is choosing me.
Does it help that both the Angels and Dolphins are currently awful? Sure, it does. I’d be a liar if I said otherwise, but if you’re looking to hop on a bandwagon, you don’t choose the Minnesota Twins.
I’m at a crossroads. Do I abandon my Dolphins and Angels allegiances? Do I fully engulf myself in Minnesota? Do I throw away 20 plus years of fandom just because I moved three hours north? Unwavering loyalty through adversity has long been a character trait that I’ve been proud to possess, but adapt or die, right?
I have an opportunity to fully immerse myself in my new community. It would be silly not to take advantage of that, wouldn’t it?
Fuck it. Skol.