The Other Home Team
By: Cameron Nelson
When you watch sports, you of course have a home team. Usually, it is your home team in the traditional sense; it’s the team closest to you, they’re likely on TV three or four times a week and maybe you get to a couple of games during the season.
Having lived the first twenty years of my life in both Kansas and Missouri, it was a given I’d become a fan of the Kansas City Royals. I was within driving distance of the stadium for years and the affinity for the team grew as my love for the game did. It’s just a natural thing. When you love sports, there’s always going to have that one team that holds a special place in your heart and who you stick with in good times and bad. And as a Royals fan, I got used to one of them pretty quick.
You’ve got three guesses as to which one and the first two don’t count.
Is it right to have “another home team”? This happens sometimes. When you have a second team that holds a place in your heart. Not as high as the first, but you still root for them unless they play your favorite.
The other home team is something that a lot of people don’t understand, I think. It’s your “backup” team for when your home team sucks. When you jump on the bandwagon and turn in your true colors. However, this isn’t the case for a true other home team. That team holds a place in your heart for a reason.
I have a home team and an other home team for every sport (except basketball). I’m a diehard Chicago Bulls fan and no team comes close to the passion I have for them and I can’t foresee any circumstance in which I would root for any other team.
In baseball, my “backup” team is the New York Yankees. You may think this odd, since the Yankees are by every stretch of the imagination, the anti-Royals. Big market, big money, big names, winning seasons, more World Series wins than you can shake a stick at, they have it all. How do you get that when you spend your time rooting for The Bad News Bears of the MLB?
I don’t consider myself a bandwagon jumper (OK, maybe with the Bulls). The reason the Yankees hold a special place in my heart because of my grandmother. I loved my grandmother obviously, and she was a big baseball fan. I know it seems like an odd explanation, but it’s the honest truth. A good other home team has a special reason why you like them, and for me it’s the common ground between me and my grandmother. Her husband was stationed in New York while he was in the Navy in the 1950s, right in the heyday of the Yankees. Her favorite player of all time is Mickey Mantle and she loved that team so much. Whenever I talked about baseball to her, she talked about Mickey and Yogi and the good old days. I loved those conversations and the history so much that it led me to love the Yankees themselves. It’s the team that brings my family joy and they’re just as much a part of us as Kansas City is. That’s why I root for them.
When you latch onto another “home” team, there’s usually one or two special moments that get you started. I like to call it “the bandwagon moment”. Sometimes it’s fleeting, but sometimes it catches you just enough for you to stay on the wagon just long enough to develop that secondary place in your heart.
For example, in college football, I am a Kansas Jayhawks fan first and foremost. As you can tell, I’m somewhat of a masochist when it comes to sports. But this year, I spent five months in a homeless shelter. You don’t spend five months in a place without getting a little attached to the residents there. In particular, there were three guys named Jeff, Chris, and Johnny who are diehard Notre Dame fans. I started watching the Irish this season and I had so much fun rooting for them with the guys there as the season went on. Now they’re the #1 team in the country and are set to play against the Alabama Crimson tide for the BCS National Championship, and I’m going to be rooting for the Irish as hard as I can. To me, it’s not a bandwagon moment. I didn’t cheer for them because they’re winning, but because I made friends through them.
The other home team is a strange phenomenon. It’s not something I believe to be particularly widespread, but it can be a great source of joy to those particular fans. Just because you don’t live in San Francisco doesn’t mean you can’t be a Giants fan (my #3 team, large family presence in the Bay Area). If someone gives you crap for being a fan of a team without being from there, just tell them it’s your other home team. They may not understand, but for you, it should be good enough.
I never saw Mickey Mantle play. I never knew future Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox actually played for the Yankees.
Because of my grandmother, I don’t care.
I never knew Mike Golic of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” played for Notre Dame, or that he has two sons on this year’s team.
Because of my three new friends, I don’t care.
Do me one favor, though.
Don’t get me started on Wil Myers