Friday, September 17, 2010
Hi. My name is Kat, and I'm a New England sports writer who isn't a Patriots fan.
Do you understand how off-putting that is to New Englanders?
It is not that I don't like football. I love it - it's been my favorite sport to watch since I was ten years old. I love other sports too, but football was the root of why I wanted to become a sports writer and why I am a sports fan. Sports Illustrated's Super Bowl XXIX's coverage was so inspiring - the detail of the highs, lows, and emotional and physical toll of winning a championship - that I aspired right then and there, with that issue in my lap, that that telling that story on any level was what I wanted to do with my life.
You may pin this on me being from another part of the country, but I have adopted every other team that New England has to offer - even the pro lacrosse teams. But I stay rooted to being a Buffalo Bills fan - I'll pause to let you groan - even as they visit lows only known to Oakland Raiders fans.
Despite the risk of sounding like Dan Shaughnessy (and trust me, he is a sportswriter I don't risk to emulate), one of my main reasons of not liking the Patriots is that you can't see that struggle, the fight, the lows that any athletic team - be it 5 year olds playing T-ball or 25 year olds playing pro football - that they go through. The Patriots only seem to operate on a one-dimensional level. When they struggle, they close ranks. When they lose, they don't talk about it. When they win, there is no obvious joy. It's only back to work.
It works for them. There is no questioning their massive successes on the field, in the media, and at the bank. They are running an operation like none other we've seen in professional sports - changing and challenging the norm as they go. I'm not saying fans can't be fans of them - please relish your fandom! Celebrate that your team actually win games! Trust me, it's a celebration I would love to have.
The Patriots just are not inspiring to me. I Just win, baby, but don't relish in the victory. Don't we watch sports for the inspiration and escapism? Don't we enroll our children in Little League for the fun of it, for the lessons that you learn from the struggles, and for the celebration of taking them out to ice cream after a good game? Where are those reasons we are devoted to sports ourselves within the Patriots?
Why do the media focus on the sensational nature of the Patriots - of Belichick's infidelities, of Brady's car accidents, of trying to figure out who is actually injured because it only reads "So-and-So (Upper Body)"? Because in the team's desire to seem super-human, we've lost the humanism of sport.
With Belichick's coaching family tree spreading throughout the NFL, I worry that the same things that inspired me to be a sports writer fifteen years ago will no longer be available to write about. In the effort to appear fiercely competitive, teams will close themselves off, not to show the very aspects sports fans love about sport.
Heck, those very aspects that show us that they are just like us - they just hit the gym a lot more than we all do.
Kat Hasenauer Cornetta is a freelance sports writer in Boston, MA. You can find her writing at SBNation Boston, The College Baseball Blog, Examiner.com, and Inside Lacrosse. She also works on the Hockey on Campus radio show. Follow her on Twitter here