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Marriage Wars: Athletes, skill and die-hard fans
Jun 17, 2013 | 1285 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BY MARK GRAY

Clipper Columnist

Undoubtedly, women can be avid sports fans, and, in fact many can be even more passionate than men about their chosen team. When it comes to sports, men can be more realistic about a team’s talents and abilities.

My wife, for instance, is a Utah Jazz, Colorado Rockies, and Denver Broncos die-hard. I cheer for the Jazz too, but unlike her, I can admire the precision and patience of the San Antonio Spurs when they beat the Jazz Р which they almost always do.

The difference may stem from the history of sports participation. Until recently, women didn’t play in multiple sports whereas it was common for boys to play baseball, football, basketball, and soccer. It is easier to appreciate a game you played. Therefore, even though I despise the New York Yankees, I can admire the defensive skills and clutch hitting of a Derek Jeter. Furthermore, I have no problem betting on the Yankees to win a game against a team I support (the Oakland A’s).

I have more passion for the sport and how it’s played than for the geographical logo on the jersey. Mature fans realize that Utah Jazz players are hoisting up shots at Energy Solutions Arena either because it’s the site of their largest payday or they can’t get out of their contract, not because they revere the city. Sure, the Jazzmen “represent” the state in the NBA world Р but the cost of a decent seat at a Jazz game doesn’t “represent” the income of the average Utahn.

So this year I’ll root for decency (the Spurs to beat the Heat), tradition (the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, and Pittsburgh Steelers), and teams performing well with low payrolls and minimal egos (the Oakland A’s , Tampa Bay Rays); I will continue to cheer against teams with swollen payrolls and arrogant owners (the Yankees, Dallas Mavericks, and Dallas Cowboys).

But I’ll control my blood pressure even if “my team” loses, because “my team” is really just a pack of highly paid athletes who inherited a great gene pool.

BY DAWN BRANDVOLD-GRAY

Clipper Columnist

It’s not about appreciating the skills of the game or even the prospect of winning. I’m a sports fan the same way that I’m a mom (my kids hate this analogy.) If they are wearing “my jersey”, they are “my team.” 

This makes it easy to cheer for players previously despised when they play for a rival franchise. When Jeff Hornacek sunk three-pointers against the Jazz, I booed with enthusiasm, flash-forward, Hornacek is a Jazzman and I love him unconditionally. 

I understand that the players are hired guns, but when they have Jazz, Rockies, or Broncos stitched across their chest, they are as committed to my team as I am. Although it might be a challenge to cheer for Kobe Bryant in a Jazz uniform, I could probably bring myself to do that too!

This sense of loyalty is why you find fewer women “band wagon” fans. Women will cheer for their team regardless of its record or their potential. They won’t be swayed by a hot new superstar or the media hype. Women know the game, the stats, and the odds but they will never bet against their team. It’d be like betting against your own kid when the playground bully shows up.

This die-hard loyalty is why year after year, I put John Stockton’s alma mater, Gonzaga, in my NCAA March Madness pool. It’s the same loyalty that drove me to place my first ever bet on a team in Las Vegas last week. I marched up to the window and said “I want to put $10 on the Colorado Rockies to win it all.” The guy at the sports book laughed.

I’ll take my 40-1 odds and my Rockies and come October, I could have the last laugh.

 
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