I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I will always be a big Chicago guy, because it’s home. It’s my city. I was born and bred in the cold weather, in the wind, in the middle of dynasties and the love of multiple teams. Because of this, I am first and foremost a Chicago Blackhawks fan. A Chicago White Sox fan.
But I also support teams from outside the state. Specifically, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Lions. These are teams with no ties to my family, no ties otherwise to me. But these are teams I love. I hate, sometimes, that I love them. But I love them just the same.
Being a Lions fan in Chicago is a difficult situation. Surrounded by fans of the Bears (of course) and the Packers (boo), it’s sometimes hard being the only guy in Honolulu Blue. But its a situation that only increases my devotion to the Lions. Because I am put in the harsh position of being the one guy to defend the underdog, the NFC North’s little brother, I love them more. I’ve learned that defending your team can be a part of a fan’s life.
Being an OKC Thunder fan is less hard. Especially after the rough offseason, nobody really picks on us. We don’t have a natural rivalry in any place I’ve lived, so people who see the OKC logo embroidered on my hat are generally fine with it. Most love the story of Westbrook’s revenge tour. But I have no support in Chicago. As an Eastern team, the Bulls fans could care less, but the Thunder community in Chicago is a smaller one.
Which is why I’ve often been asked as to why I’m a fan of these teams. I get it, it’s a weird lineup of teams. People don’t usually lump the Blackhawks, Lions, Thunder, and White Sox into a group. People in Chicago don’t usually lump the Blackhawks and White Sox together, but that’s a different problem.
I became a fan of the Detroit Lions because of their 2014 defense. It was dirty, because Ndamukong Suh was a part of it. It was heavy, it played hard. But more than this, they were good. Much better than their playoff game would imply. The fact that they were clearly robbed by the refs only endeared them more to me – I hate referees, as most fans do. Detroit vs. Everybody endeared them to me, because here was this down-on-its-luck city rallying behind a football team.
The story of me and OKC is much simpler. I like them because I like Westbrook. I like Westbrook because he is clearly the best player in the NBA 2K Series.
Life is harder for fans of out of state teams. Whether you were born with the team and moved away (in today’s era, if your team moved away), or if you started liking a team from outside your city, it’s often lonely being the only person around rooting for one team. But if you stick with it long enough, you earn your fandom. You fall more in love with your team. I bleed Honolulu Blue even though I’ve never been to Detroit, and perhaps that reason is a factor. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that’s true even in the world of the fan.