In 1997’s Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen’s character spends a scene trying to convince his half-sister that he’s not ashamed of his faith. “Hey, I may hate myself,” he says, “but not because I’m Jewish.” That’s kind of how I feel these days. The source of my self-hate is also related to irrational, neurotic and generally loathsome behavior. I’m talking, of course, about my other religion: Boston sports. As a fan, I’m having an existential crisis. The teams I’ve supported my entire life (I swear I loved the Patriots before 2001) have become nearly impossible to root for. It’s not their play, which over the past decade has spoiled me rotten, or even detestable athletes and coaches, of which there are several in New England – it’s the fans. We’re insufferable, and I hate that about us.
It’s been this way for awhile now, but I can’t hold back. Not anymore.
The Red Sox’ atrocious start is causing War of the Worlds-level panic, despite the fact that the season is barely a week old. (It’d be like writing off Rafael Nadal if he dropped the first two games of a best-of-five-set match.) One local columnist has already declared that newly signed outfielder Carl Crawford is “not a $20 million [a year] player.”
Then there’s Danny Woodhead, who as of late last week was among the leaders of an online poll to determine the Madden NFL 2012 cover boy. The li’l Patriots running back had a decent 2010, but he isn’t exactly Adrian Peterson. Or Drew Brees. Or Aaron Rodgers. Or Michael Vick. They too were all still in the running for the Madden cover. Somehow Woodhead was also in that mix, probably because he’s a 5-foot-8, 195-pound “everyman.” And Boston fans adore ethnically similar everymen. Last time I checked, a speedy 5-foot-8 white dude with freakishly large legs who makes the NFL is the exact opposite of an everyman. Alas, the Masshole voting bloc has spoken.
Hell, “Yankees suck!” chants still ring out…at weddings and concerts. It’s miserable.
Of course, this stuff makes us deserving targets, especially on the web. Drew Magary at NFL blog Kissing Suzy Kolber knows this, and has giddily taken advantage. I don’t blame him. “Tommy from Quinzee,” the chillingly accurate composite character he created to embody the stereotypical Boston fan makes me laugh (and shamefully cringe) on a regular basis. Tommy is shirtless, drunk, racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic and loud, always wears a winter hat and a gold chain and says things like, “The Pats ahhh like Mahk Wahlberg. He may make a shitty movie once in a while, but everyone in Hawllywood secretly knows he’s the toughest fackah out they-ah!” Now, we’re not all like Tommy. There are some rational Boston fans. But if you grew up in New England, or even went to college on the East Coast, you know – or at least met – someone like Tommy. That is a fact. The last time I sat in the stands at Gillette Stadium, a guy in front of me spent the entirety of a 52-7 Patriots victory yelling “SEIZE HIM!”
And it’s not even the general obnoxiousness that bothers me the most. I guess I’ve come to accept that there will always be a segment of the population that will be aroused by undersized white athletes. I’m disturbed more by what I like to call the official guardians of Boston sports. You know, the exceptionalist assholes who claim that other cities can’t possibly match our tradition, intensity and passion. We’re not the damn Freemasons. There’s no initiation required to become one of us. Yet there are still people who whine about Fenway Park being taken over by “fans” in pink hats. By definition, a Pink Hat is an outsider, somebody who likes the Red Sox because it’s the trendy thing to do.
But really, who cares about them?
Naturally, people are going to be attracted to winning teams. I’d rather follow a successful team with an inclusive fan base than a bad team with an exclusive fan base. If that means the bleachers are chock full of yuppie bandwagon jumpers on iPhones, then so be it. Sorry, you’re not better than them because you suffered through the JACK CLAHK era. Next time someone from Boston attempts to invalidate you for not being a dedicated enough fan, just remember what Homer Simpson said when the Stonecutters rejected him: “Why won’t those stupid idiots let me into their crappy club for jerks?”
I might be generalizing here, but for good reason. For the most part, we’re insufferable. “I love sports,” a friend told me recently. “But I hate people who love sports.” Sadly, he’s probably justified in saying that, especially when it comes to Boston fans. Yet I’ll continue to wear my Tom Brady jersey, Bruins hoodie and old Red Sox hat, because, well, that’s what I’ve always done, even if I hate myself for it.
(Alan Siegel is a writer in Washington, D.C. His previous piece for Made Man was Tyus Edney: Coast to Coast to History.)