Have you ever been called the “B” word? It gets thrown around way too freely while it carries a sharp, cutting weight behind it. It stops you in your tracks; whatever the conversation may have been about before, once this puppy gets broken out it becomes the conversation.
The ultimate dirty word in sports fandom. And why not? Sports are peak tribalism: my people versus your people. Fairweather and fence sitters need not apply.
While bandwagon jumpers might be annoying, maybe even more so is the guy checking everyone’s fandom “papers”. This past weekend, we got a real blast from the past when a band who hasn’t been relevant since Friends was on the air attempted to do just that, straight to the heart of Packers Twitter.
no no no no fans are born, you can’t just sit back and pick any team to be yours. You MUST have roots in the city or state they play in. We were all born in the SF Bay Area and even one of our dads was signed by the SF Giants right outta Balboa High School in SF! #roots
— Smash Mouth (@smashmouth) October 2, 2021
I could make an “ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed” joke here, but it’d be about as tired as their music. When I showed my wife this, she said, “Someone’s going to get fired for that”. No, I think they’re just assholes? Out of all the stupid, childish aspects involved with being a sports fan, establishing arbitrary rules for what team other people are allowed to be fans of is at tippy top of that list.
Having a discussion around the gatekeeping of sports fandom today is perfect timing. The Packers are getting ready to travel to Cincinnati this weekend. This game hits different for me because I was born and raised in Dayton, just about 45 minutes north of Paul Brown Stadium.
I’ve been a Packers fan since birth and I relished in the idea of being “outcast” at school because of it. My class was always filled with Bengals fans who were forced to sit through book reports I did on Brett Favre and begging to have Wisconsin in our 6th grade presentations about every state so I could wear my cheesehead to school.
My Packers fandom has drawn scrutiny wherever I’ve been and while it may not be as confrontational as the Shrek band decided to be, it has the same energy behind it every time: “Your fandom means less because you aren’t from there”. It doesn’t matter if you watch every game, buy the jerseys or know every player; you’re a tier below other fans.
Even more ironic, though, was this exchange going down simultaneously with #TwitterTailgate2021. If you weren’t aware or aren’t familiar, first off congrats on avoiding some of the biggest FOMO vibes I’ve ever experienced. #TwitterTailgate2021 is the epitome of what the fan experience should be about.
— Bruce Edmunds 🏴🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@BruceEdmunds) October 3, 2021
— CERTIFIED PACKERS FAN 👦🏾👦🏾👦🏾 (@KingDay__) October 4, 2021
To summarize, a number of Packers fans from different parts of the country, as far as (cover your ears, Smash Mouth) California, organized the trip to Green Bay for the Steelers game at Lambeau this past weekend. If you are even semi-deep into Packers Twitter, you probably know most of them and that they don’t need to pass some kind of test to prove themselves. These fans are exactly who I would point to when someone wants to have a fandom pissing contest.
You could feel the excitement and see the pure joy through every tweet, picture and video. That energy is what makes you a fan, not wherever you spend elementary school. It’s between you and the team. If it’s real for you, then it doesn’t matter what the 2000 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards “Best Band” award winner thinks.
They did get one thing right though: fans ARE born. They’re born in moments like a Super Bowl victory, a Hail Mary win or two, or even two weeks ago when Rodgers makes Smash Mouth’s hometown 49ers look kind of dumb with their finger and their thumb in the shape of an L on their forehead.
Fan Question of the Week
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Today’s question comes from Cole Pope, @ColePope12 on Twitter.
Why are Cincinnati Bengals fans such a**hole pricks with one winning record in the last few years?
I swear I didn’t plant this question, but bless you Cole for allowing me to go off.
Bengals fans are some of the worst of any fan base I’ve ever met. I was born in the darkness, raised in it. They’re an interesting case study as they’ve been around long enough to have a history, but that history is filled only with consistent mediocrity. They’re the Miracle Whip of the league.
It’s not surprising one of the most memorable sports moments to come out of that city is a drunk guy running on the field, a move you’d expect from an ignored child. Most Cincinnati fans have a weird little brother complex because their town keeps getting outshined by better, or at least more popular, teams.
College? Ohio State/Kentucky > UC
NFL? I’d rather root for the lovable underdog Browns
MLS? FC Cincinnati should’ve stayed down in the USL
MLB? No one outside the Tri-State cares about your Opening Day party
I worked a summer as an intern for the largest sports radio station in Cincinnati. I got college credit for listening to Cincy sports fans cry. That makes the student loans all worth it.