If you live in Oklahoma now and have lived here all your life:
1. You are not a Boston Red Sox fan.
2. You are not a Boston Red Sox fan (for emphasis).
3. You are not an Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics fan, either.
I know that sounds harsh, but hey, tough break man. It’s the truth. This posting is the culmination of more than a decade of annoyance/anger with what is a truly rampant bandwagonism epidemic in Oklahoma.
This is not an exaggeration. Because there’s never been a major league professional sports franchise in Oklahoma (until recently), this has become a state of bandwagon jumpers. Maybe that’s appropriate, since everyone seems to get so fired up about covered wagons around here. But I, for one, am not going to stand for it anymore.
I’m from Toronto. I grew up there and cheered on the local teams with great passion. When I left there, I continued to cheer on the Toronto teams. What do I get to show for my 31 years of Toronto fandom: Two baseball championships. Now don’t get me wrong, back-to-back World Series titles are nothing to sneeze at. But when you take three professional sports teams and give them 77 chances — 31 for each of the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs and 15 for the Raptors – to win a title, bringing home a mere pair of crowns is somewhat disheartening. What’s worse? There is no immediate hope for anything resembling greatness on the Toronto sports scene.
The Maple Leafs? Five straight years out of the playoffs and no titles since 1967. The Raptors? Five playoff berths in 15 years and only one playoff round win. The Blue Jays? Their last playoff at-bat belonged to Joe Carter in ’93. In the meantime, three expansion teams — Marlins, Rays, Rockies — have made it to the World Series, and in the Marlins case, won it twice. The point? I’m getting nothing, man! But you know what? Tough luck for me.
Those are my professional sports teams. I’m stuck with them. I don’t get to trade them in. I don’t get to abandon them and claim someone new, even though that would be a lot more fun. I don’t get to decide, “Hey, the Boston Red Sox are hot! I’m going to order a weathered-looking Red Sox cap and start calling myself a huge Red Sox fan!” If you’ve lived in Oklahoma all your life and have no allegiance to a professional sports team, you can’t just up and decide you’re a fan of Team X. You’ve got to live it. You’ve got to inherit it. You can’t decide going to see a game at Fenway is like a life-long dream finally realized. And why not? Because you are not a Boston Red Sox fan! You are from Oklahoma. Find a local team to cheer for. Or move somewhere else.
So, where do we go from here? I’ve come up with a simple set of standards to use when life-long Oklahomans are trying to decide if they are indeed fans of a professional team. If you’re answer to any of these questions is yes, you are not a fan of the team in question.
1. Is the team in question is a traditional winner? You call yourself a Yankees fan because the Yankees have like 25 World Series titles. Is that your only reason? You’re not a Yankees fan. Also applies to: Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Red Wings.
2. Is the team in question a marketing/apparel juggernaut? Hey, everyone’s got a Green Bay Packers Brett Favre jersey! Now I’ve got one too! I’m a Packers fan! Wrong. Also applies to: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers.
3. Did the team in question recently become really good? Red Sox Nation! Red Sox Nation! Guess what? Before 2004, nobody had heard of any Red Sox Nation. You are not part of the Red Sox Nation. Also applies to: New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics.
4. Does the team in question have national cable coverage? You watched the Braves or Cubs on TV during the summer when you were a kid. Doesn’t count for anything. You’re are not a Braves or Cubs fan. Also applies to: Chicago Bulls.
5. Does the team in question feature a transcendent player? You think Michael Jordan was pretty much the bomb, and you’ve been a huge Chicago Bulls fan ever since. Everyone thinks Michael Jordan was the bomb, that doesn’t make you a Bulls fan. Also applies to: Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers.
6. Have you lived in Oklahoma all your life and have no reasonable geographic connection to the team in question? This category pretty much covers everything not covered above.
So what does that leave you with? Lucky for you, the Thunder are here. Go ahead and bask in their glow. Twenty years from now, no Oklahoma City natives would dare call themselves a Lakers fan first and foremost. You gotta earn it. Good thing you’ve got a chance now.