Sports fans are dedicated. They watch round-the-clock coverage, read every word they can and refresh Twitter endlessly.
This isn’t because they love sports -- maybe they do -- but because they love complaining.
An estimated 90 percent of sports discussion is complaining. The coach is terrible, the star is overpaid and, because the team didn’t win, they Don’t Have What it Takes.
There is such thing as actual sports discussion, but quite frankly it isn’t all that interesting to everyone. The average person doesn’t care about a team’s base defense, lefty-righty matchups or who’s playing the half-wall on the power play.
So, they stick to complaining. As the Cubs take part in the World Series for the first time since 1945, here’s a complaint that’s resonated: There’s too much other stuff.
They’re interviewing old people in the stands. FOX keeps showing Bill Murray. Eddie Vedder was in the clubhouse celebrating with the team.
People are actually basing their rooting interest on this, and while the above video is one of the most genuinely funny clips I’ve ever seen, it might be the most sports-fan move in the history of sports-fan moves.
Seriously, who the hell cares?
Dooes the long-suffering Cubs fan love that junk? Probably not, but do you think they've spent even a second thinking about it? Of course not. It isn’t taking away from their experience because that long-suffering Cubs fan is spending every second between pitches stress-eating, stress-drinking or stress-whatever-else-ing.
We know this, of course, because Boston went through this in 2004 and the years that followed. Red Sox Nation was every bit as campy as what you’re seeing in Chicago now, and if the Cubs can go on to win the World Series, I’m sure they’ll take any and all nonsense that comes with it.
Red Sox fans did a decent job of handling this at first. They embraced the shots of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner at the 2004 World Series and didn’t throw a fit when Jimmy Fallon ran onto the field in St. Louis so he could shoot one of the worst movies of all time. For Sox fans, those things were no different than the endless ads for My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss: just stuff that was going on during the stress-eating/drinking/whatever-else-ing.
Yet, as the years went on, predictably, they went back to their first instinct and complained. The team was still winning World Series, but it got too cute. The term “pink hat” -- which for about two and a half years every guy ages 14-31 claimed they made up -- became a thing. This was a derogatory term for fair-weather fans, specifically ones who were women, because it would be impossible for a die-hard Red Sox fan to simply buy a hat in a color they liked.
[Side-note: The Red Sox wore and sold alternate hats in the 1997 season and nobody batted an eye.]
[Other side-note: People who say “pink hat” are actually the worst. Sports don’t exist just for you, you weirdo. Even if that person isn’t as big a fan as you, they’re giving money to the team you like so the team you like can go buy free agents. Stop it.]
Did the “pink hats” hurt the 2007 Red Sox? Of course not. Josh Beckett still got to swear on TV and J.D. Drew still got to hit that grand slam. Everyone got what they wanted. Is a lady who’s probably going to die in a couple years sitting in the Wrigley stands hurting Jon Lester on the mound? No. It's really not a big deal.
Then came the bricks. From the moment the Red Sox began selling bricks to be placed in various spots of Fenway in 2011, everything was the bricks’ fault. Angry about the Adrian Gonzalez trade? Stupid ownership with their bricks. Chicken and beer got you down? Bricks. Taking Terry Francona’s side in the split? Probably. He wasn’t the one selling bricks.
The bricks are still mentioned to this day, years after the team won a third World Series title in a 10-year span. You did not have to buy the bricks to remain a fan of the team. It was a totally optional thing. You still got to watch and go to the games without the bricks having anything to do with your life.
The bricks were sold -- at a silly price -- because some people would buy them. Then the Red Sox got that money and remained super rich.
Sure, the team got too business-oriented in the process. Ownership became all about grand gestures, and it might have led to Theo Epstein’s departure. That’s serious collateral damage, even if Epstein didn’t believe in staying for one place forever anyway.
Still, look at the end result. A lot of people used to actually pray for the Red Sox back in the dark days. Many undoubtedly spoke to/swore at God after watching Aaron Boone’s solo shot in the bottom of the 11th in 2003. Imagine if he answered by saying that you’d not only reach the World Series, but win three of the next 10, but that some hats would be different and the owners would come off as both money-hungry and out-of-touch. You’d sign up for that, PED accusations and everything in between.
You don’t have to love the entire fanbase or the coverage to love a team. You certainly don’t have to love ownership. You should, however, take the good with the bad. As the adage goes, winning solves everything, even bricks.