Asked By Amy - Sports: Whom Do You Cheer For And Why?
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Asked By Amy - Sports: Whom Do You Cheer For And Why?

Why are we so passionate about sports and the teams that we cheer for?

Asked By Amy - Sports: Whom Do You Cheer For And Why?

As another American football season is approaching for the NFL, big changes have been made to teams in the recent months. Including events inflated by the media such as DeflateGate, many trades, and of course since the draft updated the teams, fandoms are shifting and suffering, while some are stronger than ever.

Being a fan of a specific player and being a fan of a specific team are two different things, like people cheering for Peyton Manning and following him no matter what team he plays for, or being a fan of the Colts, no matter of which players the team is comprised.

So I ask: Whom do you cheer for and why?

I ask because I've been having trouble considering myself a true fan, although I would like to be. My boyfriend and I would really like to decide on one team to cheer for this year, as well as an MLB team to agree on, since NC does not have a home baseball team.

My family is from Johnstown, PA and for as long as I can remember my grandmother, grandfather and whole family has cheered for the Pittsburgh Steelers; my grandmother has stories of going down to The Point Stadium and Saint Francis to go watch the Steelers practice, and stories of 'The Great Terry Bradshaw,' who wasn't very bright, but was a phenom. More recent heroes like “The Bus" Jerome Bettis, not to mention my favorite player of all time, Troy Polamalu, who I respect for playing his entire 12-year career for the Steelers, and of course, Heinz Ward, who made the Steelers who they are, to me. My dad says that the Steelers had two of the classiest owners, the Rooney's, who gave a lot of money to the city of Pittsburgh, and who didn't put up with the crap from the players before the NFL got involved with player discipline; however, my struggle with pulling for the team is that I really think “Big Ben" Roethlisberger has run his course for the team, and my family now lives in North Carolina. So right now our “home base" is North Carolina, and the team here is the Carolina Panthers, so we cheer for them occasionally, too.

Then, I started thinking, if we are fans of a sport, why do we choose to stop cheering for teams based on what they do off of the field, or court? Is disliking one player enough of a reason to stop cheering for an entire team? Is it wrong to just pick a team if you have no affiliation or “family ties"?

I posted the questions below on social media, and feel free to leave your responses as comments or email them to me, as well as what you think I should ask next week at :

1. Who do you root for in college or professional sports and why? (Did you or a family member attend that school, is that your state's team, do you like the coach or past coach, do you follow a certain player and switch teams when they do, or did you hop on after a winning streak/season?) ** Particularly interesting would be professional soccer, if you cheer for another country or league, who/how/why?

2. Besides college basketball, what is one of the biggest sports rivalries and does the mutual 'hate' of a particular team make you cheer on other teams playing them? (I don't care about Carolina/Duke rivalry, Go Pack, but include if you feel you must)

3. Say I am trying to find a professional baseball team to cheer for, but North Carolina does not have one and I have no connection to any of them, except that my family is from Pennsylvania, so I could pick that way. How do I pick?

4. Is not liking one particular player on a team, who may or may not have done some really dumb things, enough of a reason to stop being a fan (I would in no way consider that a true fan but am kind of curious because most people won't cheer for the Panthers if they don't like Cam Newton (of course Luke Kuechly convinces us otherwise) or the Patriots if they don't like Tom Brady & his uggs)

5. Is entertainment and/or the possibility of getting hurt justification for a professional athlete to make millions(+)? I know sponsorship is a whole separate factor, but I am interested in these opinions also.

6. If you choose to play a sport as a profession, is that skill more valuable than someone who saves lives or one who educates every child, and impacts what they will grow up to be? If you say no, is your opinion changed considering the many athletes who donate time, skill, and funds to organizations or charities and give back to their communities even if some do so more than others?

The responses I received were awesome and I wanted to share some of them, as well as a few conclusions I've drawn from why we cheer for the teams we do and why people are so passionate about sports besides being a fun and healthy pass time:

* this was also posted to an NCSU students page, so any mention of 'state' is NC State.

R1: I started rooting for Chicago teams in little league. I played for "the Cubs" so I started liking the Cubs (and I got the hat for free by playing ball so sure why not). Well, next thing I know, I start liking pro football. So then I'm a Bears fan. Hockey starts piquing my interest and now I'm a Blackhawks fan. See a trend? Well don't because I don't like the Bulls. Why? Joakim Noah. He played for Florida in college and, my mom being a UGA grad, taught me to be a Gator Hater. Living in Lexington Kentucky didn't help. Thanks to those allegiances, I don't like UF, Tennessee, South Carolina or Alabama (and USC implying it's "The real Carolina" doesn't help). I'm always a hometown fan: Canes, Hornets, Panthers, and yeah, Durham Bulls. And certain hatred of certain teams does vary and change a bit. I hate Johnny Football and by extension, wherever he plays. I hate the Packers because Bears, hate the Pats because they stole a Super Bowl from Carolina (Vinitari, however you spell it, isn't welcome here). Not much of a fan of the Yankees, hate the Mets because of their fans being, well... Mets fans. Oh and as an ABC (anything but Carolina) fan and someone who had two grandparents go to Duke, I reserve the right to say "Go Devils" in a non-Pack match up.

R2: Auburn because I have familiar roots there. FC Barcelona because I love their intensity, as well as Scotland in International Soccer because my heritage is Scottish. I cheer for anyone playing the Eagles (I am a Cowboys fan), Alabama, or the Red Sox. If you want a justifiable excuse to cheer for an MLB team, 3 of the 4 minor league teams for the Chicago White Sox are in North Carolina (Kannapolis, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte). I do not judge a team based off of one player (I hate A-Rod and I am still a die hard Yankees fan).

As far as the money (I separate this because it's the most important aspect to the discussion), I do think that people like teachers, doctors, and lawyers deserve to be paid better. That being said, however, I do feel as if the large salaries are a good thing because I would rather have a player making a good living and giving back than continuing to line a billionaire owner's pockets who probably won't give back.

R3: State because that is our school! Go pack!

R4: It is how most of us grew up, we watch our father cheer and root for the teams they like, so as youngster we do the same. But as you grow older and attend school you might play sports, so now you understand the game more and develop favorites and not so favorites. As far as different sports, it's up to the individual. Some choose contact sports, other motor sports and others running sports. It passes the time on cold winter days, sitting around with friends socializing and sometimes drinking. If you attend the sport you can't help but to get caught up in all the commotion going on around you. It also is a good conversation started when you are out. Rivalries have been around for centuries. It is how this nation and nations around the world get behind their favorite teams, from grade school to high school to college to professional sports to the Olympics.

R5: I'm from twenty minutes outside of Wilmington, NC and my Dad was a huge Chicago Bulls fan when I was growing up bc of Michael Jordan and watching him play in high school. We then started cheering for the Washington Wizards when he played for them. I'm actually a Miami Heat fan now because of watching LeBron and continued to cheer for them after the traitor left. Im also a Carolina Panthers and an Atlanta Braves fan to cheer for the "hometown team" and because NC unfortunately does not have a pro baseball team, we cheer for the Braves. I also started cheering for the Denver Broncos because a former Panthers head coach was their head coach until last year and Peyton Manning is so much fun to watch. Lastly, I grew up a UNC fan (ew) because my family liked them (also mainly because of Michael Jordan), but as soon as I got accepted to NCSU, I changed my tune.

R6: I'm an Arizona Cardinals fan because of the year Kurt Warner(favorite QB of all time) took them to the super bowl and Larry Fitzgerald's skill won me over as well. I started as a bandwagon fan since it was them going to the superbowl that pulled me in, but since I hung around for about four years of misery before their recent resurgence, I'd say I've earned the title of non bandwagon fan. Also, their GM has ties to State and I really hope they pick up Mike Glennon.

R7: I grew up in Venezuela, the soccer team sucks and since half of my family is from Spain, I started to root for them around 1998 (when they sucked). Since the moment I met my family over there I was taught to root for the Real Madrid, hence why I hate Barcelona. In baseball, Venezuela has a lot of good players and I root for the Red Sox since my dad is a huge fan of them since the late 60's when the only Venezuelan Hall of Famer (as of now) played for them.

R8: I grew up hating the Yankees. When the Arizona Diamondbacks beat them in 2001 for the World Series, not only was the team I hated most destroyed, the Diamondbacks set an MLB record for the fastest a team has gone from joining the MLB to a World Series title which was pretty cool. Also they had arguably the greatest pitching duo of all time with Randy Johnson and Curt sSchilling. With all of that and their big time slugger, Luis Gonzalez (a lefty hitter like I was) being on the cover of the first (and only) baseball video game I ever owned, I've been a Diamondbacks fan since I started rooting for pro sports.

A lot of people have complex histories behind their allegiances that are more important than the fandom itself, like family experiences as a kid. Most people cheer for the school they went to, or the school their parents went to, as well as any teams they have family connections to. Most of the responses were memories of being a little kid and stories of how family members influenced their fandom. Some of the responses were of owners or general managers, and respect for how they lead and managed teams in a professional way, including several who made a few unpopular decisions but were seen as “the right and honest thing to do," so there was respect behind how the team was run. But of course, some of the developments of who we cheer for are still random and that is what makes cheering on teams so exciting, and since fans are most of the reason there is even a market/opportunity to host sports leagues, that is really interesting to me!

Once again, feel free to leave your responses as comments or email them to me, as well as what you think I should ask next week at

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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