It's hard not to feel bad for the people of Sacramento this morning. The Sacramento Kings played what may well be their last game in the Golden State capital last night. A move to Anaheim is looking more and more likely as the southern California city rolls out the red carpet for the Kings.
Folks in Sacramento are bemoaning the loss of the Kings economically as much as anything, but a bit of their moaning this week is, by their own admission, selfish. They want to root for the home team. They want to be able to go to a game without driving for hours. Who can blame them? I'd love to have the Yankees play in my backyard instead of a few hours drive away.
But let's hold on just a minute here, shall we? If the Kings move from Sacramento to Anaheim, does that mean the fun is over? Who are they rooting for: a team or a town?
In the world of sports, it can be hard to separate the two. We root for the Yankees in my house because I'm a New Yorker, born and raised. We root for the Virginia Tech Hokies because it's my father-in-law's alma mater, and my in-laws were born and raised in Virginia. Even our fanship of the Buffalo Bills links back to Virginia -- my husband grew up with one-time Hokie and one-time Bills star Bruce Smith as his idol.
Although we've developed a love for the programs and the players, the fact is the key to our devotion comes back to that old real estate motto: location, location, location. It's a common ground for every sports fan I know. Raised in Massachusetts? It's hard to fight being a Boston Red Sox fan. Husband hails from Los Angeles? You better be a Dodgers fan.
And on it goes. There are exceptions. We're Boston Celtics fans, inexplicably. I blame Larry Bird for allowing Beantown to sneak into our lives -- my husband grew up, like most little boys, with far-fetched dreams of the NBA. But, if anything, it's the exception that makes the rule.
Regionalism plays a huge role: be it because of a sense of hometown pride or access to the team's stadium or arena. The ability to watch a local team on your television or listen to a game on the radio -- something that's generally regional-based -- is important too. And let's not forget the in-your-face marketing of sports garb all over town. You're not going to find Sacramento Kings jerseys in Oklahoma City or Beantown bobbleheads in the Bronx.
So go ahead, call the people of Sacramento selfish, fair-weather fans. But they've got a point. We love our teams AND our towns, and sometimes for the same reasons.
Do you root for a team or a town?
Image via Murray State/Flickr