Late on a beautiful Manhattan Sunday afternoon, I was in very pleasant spirits. Enjoying a growler of Greenport Anniversary Ale and in the company of good friends, life, for the moment, was quite good.
This changed very abruptly. Soon I found myself in a stream of almost unconscious rage, my mind unable to control my body’s actions. My baseball cap was thrown across my apartment, a slew of brusque profanities escaped my mouth, and my hands found their way, rapidly, to a nearby wall. This was brought about not by news of the Keystone Pipeline’s delay, or from an argument with a friend. No; you see, Browns kicker Phil Dawson had somehow missed a “gimme” of a field goal, making my team’s loss all but certain.
Devastating losses such as these are familiar ground for any Browns fan, especially those of us who were too young to watch the team in the 70’s and 80’s. Since returning to Cleveland in 1999, the team has exactly two winning seasons, one playoff appearance, and no playoff wins. This year’s squad is 4-7 and lucky to be so; the combined record of teams it has beaten is 11-36. Yet, as is obvious from the anecdote above, I care immensely about this team, and will continue to do so no matter how many losses pile up.
I never thought such loyalty was particularly unique. Heck, I didn’t even think of it as “loyalty”. If you care at all about sports, you root for your home teams. Period. I assumed that, with the exception of Boston and the “Greater Patriots/Red Sox” area, this held true everywhere.
My ignorance on this matter first became apparent shortly after moving to New York. After mentioning that I was from Cleveland to a new acquaintance, some would ask if I was a Cavs fan. I found this an odd question, but would answer politely. Yes, I was. Browns?! Yes. Indians??! Of course! The questioner would then generally show an expression that was a mix of surprise and pity. When I would ask what teams they followed, they’d often launch into some far fetched explanation about how they were born somewhere in New Jersey, but their dad wasn’t from there, so they never really got into the Giants…Or, that they liked the Lakers because, well, the Nets aren’t really a team…
I tried to hide my disgust, but make no mistake: I was judging these people, and I will continue to do so. There is plenty of room for moral ambiguity and relativism in this world. But not on the matter of sports allegiances. Such sports Romneyism has no place in civilized society.
Before a proper philosophical construct is built to reject sports Romneyism, we must first properly define the concept. I define sports Romneyism as engaging in one or both of the following practices:
1-Supporting a team simply because it is popular at the time. Example: 20-somethings from northern New Jersey rooting for the Dallas Cowboys. Origin: Mitt Romney pushing for a trade war with China to cater to conservative voters in Rust Belt states.
2-Vascilating back and forth between different teams based on their likely success. Example: Pennsylvanians who follow the Eagles until Mike Vick gets hurt, and root for the Steelers immediately after. Origin: Mitt Romney supporting handgun bans in the Massachusetts gubernatorial contest, and then proceeding to purchase a firearm and join the NRA in 2007.
Sports Romneyism is harmful to both the individual moral being and the makeup of society.
On the individual level, Romneyism displays and encourages the continued atrophy of positive personal characteristics. Sports Romneyists are disloyal, happy to shift their allegiance at a moment’s notice. They lack emotional toughness and an ability to withstand negative developments, as they are trained to view such events as unacceptable rather than a natural part of life. Instead of dealing with adversity, they shift paradigms by changing teams. (This, of course, cannot be accomplished outside of a sporting context, so it sets a dangerous precedent.) They lack the ability to cope with, and learn from, failure. Perhaps most disturbingly, sports Romneyists view fleeting popularity as preferable to hardy individualism. Such individualism, and the uncertainty that comes with it, creates independent, self-sufficient individuals capable of excelling. A lack thereof, as the socialist sloths of Occupy Wall Street demonstrate, breeds self-entitled (rather than empowered) men and women.
Collectively, sports Romneyists threaten to remove society’s moral anchor. It erodes any sense of nationalism, crude yet crucial pride which gives us a common purpose in times of struggle. When I see the Browns take the field in their trademark orange helmets, I share the same sense of undying loyalty held by millions of Cleveland natives around the world. When things don’t go well, it is this loyalty that binds us together and allow us to overcome obstacles. Sports Romneyists hold no such feelings; a nation full of them is one destined to fail.