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Monday, December 13, 2010

Is Your Fanhood with The Empire or the Jedi?

Spectator sports, ultimately, serve as entertainment for us. One of the fun aspects of watching sports is that there are many issues, teams, and personalities that most fans either love or hate. Much like the Evil Empire and the Jedis, or the Hatfields and McCoys, or the Klingons and the Enterprise (or whatever the heck Star Trek fans quibble over), there are factions in sports that pit friend against friend, brother against brother, and husband against wife.

ESPN vs anti-ESPN

The ESPN crowd thinks that it is among the fanhood elite. The typical ESPN-er has two approaches to channel selection: a sporting event or whatever is on ESPN, because there is always SportsCenter. What ESPN reports is the gospel truth, and if you think you know more than The Mothership, then you are a contrarian or a conspiracy theorist. The ESPN crowd thinks Chris Berman is God's gift to football and baseball highlights and that Hannah Storm is the hottest 48 year old walking planet Earth.

The anti-ESPN crowd thinks that the ESPN crowd is a bunch of sheep, incapable of thinking for themselves. Anything anti-ESPN is trendy. The anti-ESPN crowd thinks that the "Four Letter Network" tries to control all things sporting related. The "Four Letter Network" is a four letter word to this clique and draws the ire of this group of sports fans similarly to how the words "Wal-Mart" make independent shopkeepers think "the bane of all retail".

SportsCenter in 1979   1
 The Daily Hat Trick is: This blogger is firmly entrenched with the ESPN crowd. Once upon a time, before the Internet, before the 24 hour news cycle...let's say 1985 or so...there was one and only one way sports enthusiasts like myself could get up to the minute, detailed, and insightful information and commentary on our favorite pastimes. That way was ESPN. Hour long sports-news shows? ESPN's SportsCenter was first. News tickers with brief headlines: ESPN was first (remember the :28 :58 updates?). Sunday forums of sports reporters: ESPN was first. Whether you love or hate The Mothership, if you love sports, absorb sports, look forward to getting Tweets or text message updates...if sports bring any level of enjoyment to your day, you can thank the cable television experiment in 1979, ESPN - The Total Sports Network, for the depth, breadth, and availability of sports media available to you today.

Yankee Fans vs Yankee Haters

At first, I had planned on calling this "Yankee Fans vs Red Sox Fans" but upon further reflection, I didn't see a whole lot of differences between the two fan bases, at their cores, other than the fact that they hate each other. The Yankees, however, are the polarizing lightning rod of Major League Baseball, if not sports as a whole, so we will take a look at the pro and anti-Yankee factions.

Yankee Fans have the greatest sense of entitlement of any clan of sports fans I have observed in my entire life. These people think it is their God-given right to play in October every fall. The dry spell between the 1981 World Series loss to the onetime bitter rival Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1995 American League Divisional Series, in which the resurgent Yanks were rubbed out by Ken Griffey, Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and the upstart Seattle Mariners, is often written off as a vast anti-Yankee conspiracy or is simply (late Yankee owner George) "Steinbrenner's fault." Yet The Boss is also credited with making the "brilliant baseball moves" to build the dynasty that the Yankees have had over the American League during the past decade and a half or so. For this bunch, all things baseball, even in the National League, are viewed as how it affects the Yankees or how the Yankees can affect it. This is the most narcissistic group of fans one may ever encounter.

The Yankee Haters cannot stand anything having to do with the Bronx Bombers. This crowd believes that the Yankees buy their way into contention every season, being one of a tiny number of teams that can afford to offer long term deals in excess of $20 million per season to the most coveted free agents. This group loathes all things A-Rod and dances on the Yankees metaphorical graves whenever they are eliminated from the playoffs.

Whether you loved him or hated him, he left a legacy. 2
The Daily Hat Trick is: I am familiar with the Boston Red Sox, I like most of their players, and I have no beef with them, but I am not a big Red Sox fan, as the Tampa Bay Rays are my AL team of choice. But when the Red Sox are playing the Yankees or are in any position to crush the Yankees hopes and dreams, I will be leading the chorus of, "We All Love the Red Sox." I cannot stand the Yankees organization. They buy up proven talent because they can. The Yankees are the poster team for why Major League Baseball may need a salary cap to save it from itself. I have found myself offering only tepid support to some of my favorite players once they climb aboard the Death Star in the Big Apple. The only good thing I can say about the damn Yankees is that their intense ability to polarize audiences is good for baseball because whether you love them or hate them, they are garnering your interest.

MMA Is a Sport vs MMA Is Not a Sport

I cannot think of a more polarizing subject among sports fans, in recent years, than the legitimacy of Mixed Martial Arts as a sport. I received a Tweet from a reader minutes before writing this fine piece of...writing you are reading today. He asked if I covered MMA in the Hat Trick. I am grateful for every reader I get, so I politely responded that I lacked the knowledge necessary to cover the spectacle, but I would gladly accept guest columns and give the necessary credit.

The MMA crowd believes that MMA has replaced boxing as America's hand-to-hand combat sport. The personalities in MMA are far more compelling than any in boxing (I will concede this point, save for Pac Man and Money May), and the action provides the speed, intensity, and shock value that the American sports fan wants in the 21st Century. They will pool together funds with their buddies and order MMA galas on Pay Per View. They are split on the legitimacy of Kimbo Slice. They believe that MMA is a "real man's" EXTREME sport!

The anti-MMA crowd (ladies cover your ears...or, um, eyes) thinks that MMA is two guys beating the shit out of each other. MMA, to this faction, is bar fighting without beer bottles, knives, or stools. They often view the MMA crowd as a bunch of posers, losers, stoners, or a combination thereof. Sports enthusiasts falling into this category find MMA to be an offensive travesty in the world of sports and consider the activity to be little more than a lowbrow exhibition, appealing to the lowest common denominator and carried out by participants with clinical thrill-seeking issues.

The Daily Hat Trick is: I do not mince many words and I cannot be any clearer on the position of this blog on the legitimacy of Mixed Martial Arts as a spot. IT IS A CROCK! All I see is hot male-on-male action when I get exposed to this garbage on television. Frankly, I do not see how the guys that immerse themselves in this gratuitous violence manage to keep a girlfriend or move out of their mothers' garages. Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield would whip UFC superstar Brock Lesnar's ass in the ring TODAY for so much as thinking that MMA deserves to be compared to boxing any more than dog poop should be compared to Godiva. To borrow a catch phrase from Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, "CHILD PLEASE!"

MALE on MALE action!!!!
You won't find Philip Rivers inThe Octagon but you may find Chance Rivers (do not look that name up from work or in the presence of children). 3
I have an MBA. So I can appreciate and admire MMA Godfather Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, growing the spectacle into an extremely popular, nine-figure revenue business. Payday loans are also profitable for its purveyors. Used car lots can also have a high profit margin. I have less of an urge to take a scalding-hot shower, with bleach, in the presence of pimps, drug dealers, and number runners. Then again, with the apparent proliferation of steroids in MMA, I am sure you could thank a drug dealer or three for bringing you the next UFC Pay Per View event.

Next week: Baseball "traditionalists" vs "non-traditionalists", Cowboys Fans vs Cowboys Haters, and LeBron Lovers vs LeBron Haters.

Don't forget to vote in today's fan polls!

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