If your team made it to the conference championship game– the NFL playoffs’ final four– then your team likely is a good team. Good teams likely have many and passionate fans. Unlike that other foot-ball game, the NFL mandates winners and losers every time out, so only two of these probably good teams and their probably good fan bases were allowed to move onto the Super Bowl.
There’s an incongruity here, though, because while two of these teams– the Falcons and Patriots– are not allowed to play in the Super Bowl, their fans still are allowed to watch. That creates an immediate problem: their teams are not playing in the game they’ll be watching. If you need me to spell it out for you, they have no primary rooting interest in the game they will be watching because their team is not allowed to play in the game by virtue of losing the previous game.
Unlike the Pro Bowl, this is a readily solvable problem. The way to solve it is for these fan bases to select one of the two teams actually playing in the Super Bowl as a temporary rooting interest.
They can accomplish this through application of a series of optionally overlapping rubrices. Consideration of factors like rooting against your rival, or even the team that just beat your team is appropriate, but these fans should recognize that those factors aren’t unimpeachable. For example, the theory behind rooting against the team that beat your team is that you a) hate that team because it beat your team and b) thereby prevented your team from playing in the Super Bowl, and c) some members of that team probably did or said some nasty things in the direction of your team, and d) you’re just bitter and don’t care that much anymore, yes even after two weeks have gone by, and why are you making me go through this exercise? But on the other hand, there surely is something to be said for losing– if you must lose– to the team that ends up winning the championship. Often that thing is, “Hey, we ran into the best team and they beat us. No shame in that.” And that’s more or less true too, as is the fact that you’re likely to know the team that beat your team better than the other teams, and it usually is more fun, or at least easier, to cheer for a team something about which you know. There also is that whole “respect your opponent” notion, but what is this, soccer? (Just kidding!)
In addition to these rudimentary sporting concepts, cultural preferences, nearly wholly ancillary matters, and the purely random all also are relevant.
With that, here’s our guide for displaced Atlanta and New England fans on Sunday:
Reasons to cheer for the Ravens
- First question: Is this a joke?
- First answer: Well no, not strictly. They are playing in the game, after all. Okay, but…
- Yeah, this is basically a null set. All they really have going for them is Natty Boh, which is a depressant everybody living in Baltimore takes regularly. Patriots fans are irrational at best, but they definitely hate the Ravens, although not as much as Cleveland hates the Ravens, though probably more than the general level of Ravens-hatred that exists in the populace, which is not low. Ravens fans are skeevey and mean, and we haven’t even gotten to the players yet. (Just remember: Joe Flacco is an extremely “dull” guy who calls things “retarded,” and Ray Lewis has been utilizing the Lance Armstrong defense to proclaim his innocence of charges he used cervidae-based PEDs even though that defense is scientifically and functionally irrelevant.)
- There’s enough specialized and generalized distaste for Baltimore that I’m not even sure Edgar Allen Poe would be pleased, much less Falcon and Patriot fans. (And I haven’t even addressed the Competing Raptor Doctrine or Lord Baltimore.)
- UPDATE: Someone found a reason to cheer for Baltimore.
Reasons to cheer for the 49ers
- First, an acknowledgement of bias: I’ll be cheering for San Francisco on Sunday.
- For Falcon fans, this one is easy: You probably live in the Southeast; bluegrass lives in the Southeast; that picture at the top of this post; you cheer with him; Q.E.D. Also the teams’ colors are pretty close, so you shouldn’t really need to change your clothes.
- Patriots fans, I’m not sure if I really can reach you at this point, but there are only two teams from which to choose, and we already agreed you aren’t picking Baltimore. Your territory encompasses enough colleges and universities that you ought to be able to figure out what that means for you.
- For the rest of you still on the fence, how could you not want to see this big, shiny stash jar returned to the Bay Area for the first time since Jerry died?
- For the rest of you Middle Americans still on the fence, disregard that last statement if you understood it and read this actually halfway decent Rick Reilly column about Colin Kaepernick, his family, and his Wisconsin roots.
- For the rest of you drunks, Natty Boh is a fun novelty, but Anchor Steam is an American original.
What’s going on with that picture at the top of this post?
- I’m far from a GIF connoisseur, but I do think that this one is pretty well constructed, especially in that it’s musically themed, and the timing of the loop and movement of the people has near-musical feel to it, almost a two-bar vamp, but cycled for so long (I can’t stop watching it) that it has its own setlist. There are eight main players, and therefore eight song entries. Here comes.
- First, the score. You are the conductor of this silent human symphony, and here’s your guide (With the exception of one, each is numbered, generally moving left to right and front to back.):
- The setlist:
1. Beer in Cup -> Let’s Go Niners C’mon Now. (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah make this technically difficult segue look easy.)
4. Mrs. (David) Robinson. (A David Bowie inversion of the Simon & Garfunkel original. The hook is in the reveal. See infra, no. 8.)
5. Freaker By the Speaker. (House lights up.)
6. Jukebox Hero**. (“Five string” alternate lyrics. **Solo acoustic.)
Enjoy the game, new Niner fans.
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