One thing about Fandom

Somewhat recently there was a football game that, in these parts, always is a pretty big deal. Iowa State vs. Iowa. Not to mention that a few weeks ago Mom and I found ourselves on opposite sides again for the Steelers/Bears game. The internet, for all its awesome glory, has taught many of us that its okay to be a complete douchebag because we can hide behind handles and nicknames while typing really nasty things about other people. Twitter also seems to be an accelerant on this fire. Sports fans, Hollywood groupies and political consultants are among the worst when it comes to yelling instead of talking. So Mom and I have decided that douchbaggery is not something in which we want the girls to excel. It turns out that nobody is teaching kids how to disagree without resorting to personal attacks, disrespect and general, well, douchbaggery. So how Mom and I interact with each other and our friends and neighbors who have sports loyalties different than ours, is an opportunity to push back against the continuing acceptance of douchism.

And listen, rivalry games in college sports are among the greatest conflagrations of asshattery in these United States. Regardless if our game is held in Ames or Iowa City, fans of the visiting team show up in their colors. I’ve done this many times. In fact I’ve donned the Cardinal & Gold in Iowa City 10 times. I’ve been treated poorly each time. This is to be expected. You are showing up on the other guys’ turf. Several people asked me during the week leading up to this year’s game if we were bring the girls with us.

Um, no.

First off, we had a live band at our tailgate. I also brought a 10-pack of Miller Lite Tall Boys for myself. This is not an environment in which my Dad skills would have been operating at maximum efficiency. Second, it’s a rivalry game with public drunkenness, rampant f-bombing and widespread dumbassification. So taking the girls to this game is not an ideal environment for teaching the skills we want the girls to learn. A byproduct of this conversation was that we wanted the girls to learn how not to be the type of sports fans whom everyone detests. That in turn led to an interesting debate at our tailgate.

Let’s say you are an Iowa Hawkeye fan. On gamedays you proudly wear your colors. When the Hawks are in Ames to play the Cyclones you show up to the tailgate/game in your black and gold. This seems perfectly acceptable to me. Also seems acceptable to most of the folks at the tailgate. Your team is in the visitor’s stadium to play a game. But what if the Hawks aren’t playing in Ames? Let’s say they are playing in Madison against Wisconsin while the Cyclones are home in Ames against the Kansas State Wildcats. So what you say. Doesn’t matter where your beloved Hawks are playing, its gameday for you. You get up, throw on your favorite black and gold Hawkeye gear, and head to the nearest bar to watch the game with your friends right? No. You get on the road early and head to Madison on a road trip? No. Grab a bag of Ruffles and a six-pack and watch the game on your couch? No.

You drive to Ames and go to the Iowa State-Kansas State game while wearing your black and gold Hawkeye gear. You go to a tailgate with some Cyclone fans you know and then head in and watch the Cyclones and Wildcats. All while wearing your black and gold Hawkeye gear.

Does this make you a douchebag?

Yes. Yes it does. If you answered no, you are, in fact, a douchebag fan. Or you harbor douchebag sympathies. Or your own fan douchebaggery is still in the larval stage and while not fully developed as of today, its only a matter of time until you too are universally identified as a douchebag fan. Even if you behave admirably throughout the tailgate and game, maybe even cheer for the Cyclones, you my thoroughly clueless friend are a douchebag. Simply put, you are a douchebag of considerable magnitude if you wear the gear of your team to an in-state rival team’s stadium and your team is not playing. The excuse that its “gameday” for your team too is so unacceptably lame it is difficult to convey through the English language. I wish there was a word to express, in a literary sense, a throat punch. Because that’s what you’re asking for when you engage in this type of douchebaggery.

Okay, you say, grudgingly admitting that wearing rival team gear in this example is, in fact, asshattery. But let’s say you wear a Georgia Bulldog or Arizona State Sun Devil shirt to an Iowa Hawkeye/Michigan State Spartan game as I witnessed this past weekend. Does that make you a douchebag? Sure does.

You do not wear team gear to a stadium when said team is not playing in that stadium. This is a universal truth. It’s like the 11th commandment. Naturally, there are exceptions. They are well-defined and easy to remember.

You can wear a MLB hat of any team to any game of any sport other than baseball at nearly any time. Detroit Tigers hat to a college football game? Totally fine. This past weekend I wore my Pirates gear to the Iowa/Michigan State game. Douchebag move? Nope. Not only was it gear from a different sport, it was the team colors of the home team. Completely acceptable.

Same thing with NHL or NBA gear. Different sport usually means its okay. Unless you wear a LeBron jersey to anything except a Heat game.

What about wearing your favorite NFL team gear to a college football game. Same sport. Does this constitute douchebaggery? Only if your NFL team sports the same colors as the team the home team is playing or has the same colors as a rival of the team you are watching. Wearing Steelers gear to an Iowa State game is a douche move. I have tons of Steelers gear. But its black and gold. Same colors as the Hawkeyes. So even if its freezing cold in Ames, as it was last Thanksgiving weekend, and my warmest stuff is black and gold I can’t wear it. Why? Because I’m not a douchebag. Wearing Jets gear to the Hawkeye/Spartan game in Iowa City? Douche move. Why? Jets and Spartans are both green and white. See what I’m saying here?

There are some nuances of which everyone should be aware. If you wear your Reds hat to a Pitt Panthers game you’re still a douchebag even though it falls into the different sport rule. Why is this douchebaggery? Easy. You need to be aware of which teams, in every sport, the locals hate. In Pittsburgh, its never okay to wear Reds or Ravens gear. Ever. Doesn’t matter what game you are attending. It’s a douche move.

Anyway, I think I won the debate at the tailgate. The same woman who was arguing that she should be able to wear her Hawkeye gear to every Iowa State home game showed up to the Iowa State/Texas game last Thursday in a white shirt. That my friends is the color of surrender. Of course Iowa wasn’t playing on Thursday so it wasn’t technically gameday for the Hawkeyes. Still counting it as a win.

Regardless of all that however is the underlying responsibility of you, as a parent, to teach your kids how NOT to be a douchebag fan. And I’m just spitballin’ here but my unofficial completely unscientific survey tells me that many of you are not only failing, you are actively engaged in the propagation of fan douchebaggery. I’m blaming Harry Reid and John Boehner. Everybody else is…

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Dodgeball, Star Wars and Father’s Day

Eight daycares got together earlier this week for the annual dodgeball tournament. The girls’ daycare won for the second time in three years. They were very proud of themselves. Their team won both the championship trophy and the sportsmanship trophy. This marks the 4th consecutive year they’ve won the sportsmanship trophy. Unfortunately, rampant weenie-osity prevented them from receiving both awards. I can now confirm that political correctness and progressivism have crept into the daycare dodgeball culture.

Translation? A team which did not exhibit the best sportsmanship was given the sportsmanship award.

Reason? Its not fair for one team to win both awards.

This, of course, is not only dumb, it is un-American. If you are going to present awards for winning and for best sportsmanship, the winners should…well…win. I mean what are we teaching the kids who didn’t earn the award but are given it and what are teaching the kids who earned the award but aren’t given it?

We’re teaching them to be progressive weenies.

One the great things about kids playing sports is that there are consequences. There are consequences for success and failure. Nearly all of the time those consequences are immediate and easily understood. The games provide their own incentives to work hard and succeed.

Funny thing this is that the girls were told it wasn’t fair for them to win both of the awards. And truth be told they weren’t really upset that they had to give up the sportsmanship award – even though they earned it fair and square as Riley told me. They thought, despite being told the opposite from their teachers, that it was flat out unfair. The positive out of all of this is the girls are independent thinkers and don’t take what they’re told without some healthy skepticism.

Anyway, did anybody else watch the Star Wars marathon on Spike last weekend? Anybody else think its crap that we don’t get to watch the original theatrical version instead of the digitally enhanced version? I don’t really need to see more stormtroopers in Mos Eisley for it to be a better scene. I also want to know what the hell happened to the Ewok celebration song at the end of Return of the Jedi? It was replaced by some freaky pan flute crap that belongs back in Berkeley in ’68 not the forest moon of Endor.

Seriously, what the hell is the deal with digital enhancements? You don’t see CBS going back and releasing Magnum, P.I. with Thomas sporting a digitally enhanced moustache. ABC isn’t going back and giving Captain Stubing hair. They’re not going back and adding infantry to the battle scenes in North and South. Although that would be cool…

You know what else is cool? 22 days till NFL Kickoff Sunday. Which, if you’re really honest with yourself, should be redesignated Father’s Day. The third Sunday in June is a fine day. In fact, it would probably be just fine if it wasn’t Father’s Day. If there is a day in which I want to be left alone, it’s NFL Kickoff Sunday. Especially since I got the Sunday Ticket a couple seasons ago. I mean if you leave me alone and let me do whatever I want in June, I’m probably going to fall asleep on the couch watching highlights on the NFL Network. That or something about the allied bombing raid against the Ploesti oilfields in 1943 on The History Channel. Regardless, if you did it on a certain Sunday in September, I’ll be far more likely to appreciate the gesture. Aside from maybe the release of the Red Dawn remake, I can’t think of a better day to become Father’s Day.

In honor of the NFL season being right around the corner here’s a pic of some of my mini-helmets. I’ve altered them so they actually reflect the helmets worn in 1976. Yeah, it’s cool.