I feel like I should include a trigger warning at the beginning of this because people really value their fandom. People create reasons to love teams and they convince themselves that it is a valid rationale. For professional franchises, sometimes it works because of a love of a player or similar sentimental reasonings.
It’s different in college. Allegiances need to be tighter and more justifiable. It can’t just be an allegiance to the city or one player. That isn’t enough for college. It can’t just be a brand, despite what you might hear from those douchebags on twitter whose bio reads, “DIE HARD yankee, lakers, Canadiens, and BAMA fan!!” College sports are a family affair and the allegiances that are acceptable show this.
If you are roughly half of the Alabama fan base, I apologize, but you can go. If you’re basically every single white, Irish Catholic, middle-class man that roots for Notre Dame exclusively for those reasons (every single white, Irish Catholic, middle-class guy), I’m sorry. I know we’ve been neighbors my whole life, but your allegiance is bullshit, and Rudy is just a fine movie. For my fellow writers Frank and Anthony, I will literally never understand why you are Ohio State fans no matter how many times you tell me that you watched a game one time when you were a kid and like came your pants or whatever and then you had erotic dreams about Ezekiel Elliott. It doesn’t count and I am not sorry at all.
Now that I got rid of those thinking irrationally, there are three reasons I can think of that are allowable reasons to be a fan of a college sports program.
This is the most obvious one. If you go to a school, you root for that school. It’s really that simple. Schools with spirit surrounding sports are tighter-knit and their vibes are exciting. Even though the school I go to, Temple, doesn’t really have this school spirit, our facilities are still solid and our teams are perennially mediocre, which makes being a fan fun because my expectations are generally .500 so anything more than that is honestly exhilarating.
It’s not time-sensitive, either. For example, I attended La Salle University my freshman year and actually managed the basketball team. Regardless, that is a program I still follow and root for. Them finally firing Dr. John Giannini made me unbelievably happy for the program because he is maybe the worst basketball coach of all time, but that’s a rant for another day.
This has 2 subcategories. The first is family attendance of a school. This one hits very close to home for me because both my parents are alumni of Villanova University. I have wrote about extensively on this website and also lived my whole life as a die-hard Wildcats fan. I didn’t even apply there when I was getting ready for schools, but I was born a Nova fan. This is acceptable. Not just because I’m trying to justify my allegiance, but because college sports are a family affair. Whether together or apart, so much of college fandom permeates blood.
The second is family involvement in a program. The most notable example of this is Bill Murray, whose son, Luke, worked as an assistant under Chris Mack for the Musketeers, leading to Bill’s very well-publicized fandom of the squad.
Bill Murray: impressed! pic.twitter.com/tnOU6ixzoz
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) January 20, 2018
A less publicized example is our fearless leader Brandon’s allegiance to Auburn hoops (2017-2018) and now Drake (2018-?) due to his brother-in-law, Matt Gatens’ ,work as an assistant on those squads. This man lived and died Auburn hoops last year (which was also spurred on by Iowa not being worth any brain space or fandom). Now, Drake is somehow relevant in my life as a sports fan because I have seen “GO DAWGS!!!” in our Slack group chat probably a dozen times since Gatens made the move.
It’s not as inclusive as professional sports geography, but for a lot of towns, a college is all they have. My best example of this is Syracuse University. That city legitimately runs on the university. When you are approaching on the highway (I forget what it is, I’m pretty bad directionally), you can see the Carrier Dome from probably 20 miles away. Every third or fourth commercial has Boeheim talking about some local car dealership. This is the same in the south and Texas. Sports are the city a lot of the time. It’s also like Philadelphia in the second half of the twentieth century when The Big Five actually meant something.