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Separating the fanboy from the journalist (or, "we" vs. "they")

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Batman, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    This started on the "Who's No. 1?" thread on the sports and news board, and I figured it deserved its own thread.

    There's a huge backlash, on this board and in other places, when someone refers to a team as "we" instead of "they", even though that person most likely never played football or another sport for the team. Once "we" is broken out, they're labeled a fanboy, have any shred of credibility dismissed, and are generally ridiculed.
    But why?
    I'd venture a guess that somewhere in excess of 90 percent of sports writers graduated from college, somewhere. While in college, did none of them attend a game as a fan? If they did, did they sit there stoically and not utter a peep? Have they not donated money to their alma mater, or bought a T-shirt or sweatshirt or some piece of merchandise?
    Sure, it's not the same as suiting up and making plays. But if I go to a game at my alma mater and scream myself hoarse, I feel like I've done my part to help them win. That makes it feel like I can say "we" when talking about the team. In a lot of ways, it's the one outlet I have to keep from becoming a crusty old hack who doesn't give one flip about the stuff he's covering. All of us started out as fans, so why do we have to throw that in the garbage and forever send it to the landfill the second we pick up a notebook?

    Now, there are obviously places where it's not appropriate. In a press box, for example, or other professional setting. And I am able to separate the fanboy from the journalist when I'm covering my alma mater (which isn't very often). I actually think that has made me a better fan, because I'm able to be more analytical and realistic when I look at their situation. People go overboard, sure. But those folks who can't separate the two halves at the right times shouldn't be writing articles.
    Seeing someone cheer in the press box disgusts me. But being shunned because I want to keep that one little piece of fandom and joy with me is downright scary.
  2. It's just not the same as suiting up and making plays.
  3. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I can understand getting jacked up about your former school. But I've heard it in press boxes of professional teams, and that makes me want to vomit.
  4. Damaramu

    Damaramu Member

    Well since I'm the one that started it I guess I'll chime in.

    I think it's fine when you're watching the game at a bar or with your buddies but in a press box? No way.

    Cheering in a press box just gets me all the way around.

    Of course high school AD's are about the worst about making the press box an unprofessional place, at least where I am. The AD at my hometown team did a pretty good job of keeping it on the DL but every road game I went to was full of cheering and yelling at the refs. And then there was the AD of a rival school that was sitting beside me at a home game that cheered when one of my hometown team's players got hurt. He's 17 man! \

    But seriously at pro games Mike? Terrible.
  5. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    Dead serious. Some of the people complain about penalties and official's calls, then throw "we" around like pillows on prom night. It's gross. Every single game, there are three idiots to my right who will not quit. I don't see it as often at college games, and not even high school games so much. It's pretty bad.
  6. PhilaYank36

    PhilaYank36 Guest

    I have to agree that cheering in any press box, preps to the pros, is indefensible. Not only is it unprofessional, but it's just rude to everyone else around you who are trying to work. I think it's all right if you do a subtle fist-pump under the table, but that's about all I'd try to get away with. I don't care if the guy next to me used to play for whatever team we're covering: if you want to cheer, step outside.

    Now, if we are talking about being out of the box or professional setting (SportsJournalists.com NOT included), all bets are off. If you're at a game for your old HS or college, yell like bloody hell & say "we" because you ARE a part of the school. Maybe you didn't suit up, but you sure as hell invested a lot of time, money & emotion into that institution, so I think you're allowed to say that you are a part -- albeit a VERY small part -- of that school.

    Like Batman said, I feel that being a sports journalist has made me a smarter, more objective fan. That being said, since you have a more realistic view of your team, you really come to see how derranged regular fans can be as they're swimming in the Kool-Aid. Make sure you're aware of this and don't get in a huff when some yahoo over-reacts to when the RB gains just four yards instead of six during the first quarter of the third pre-season game of the year. ;)
  7. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    If you're not on the team, you don't say we. Period.

    Not in the bar, not with your buddies, not ever.

    They are the team. You're not on it, and sending a check or standing in the cold while the team plays doesn't change that. If you don't believe me, ask the guys on the team.
  8. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Well-Known Member

    Cheering in the press box is the sin of all sins, as far as I'm concerned. I think when you're in a professional setting, you need to act like a professional.

    That being said, this is my opinion on fanboy vs. journalist. I was a fan long before I became a journalist. I will be a fan long after I've retired from journalism. Knowing how to balance the two is the hard thing. There have been times I've covered my alma mater and had the fanboy in me fighting to come out. But I've always been able to stifle it. I may let a small fist pump go under the table, or I might cheer inside, but I never celebrate in a press box.

    As for the "we" argument, I have no problem with anybody using that term. I don't think you have to have suited up for a team to say we, but I do think you should have a vested interest in that team (no bandwagonners). And a lot of NFL and college players I've talked to over the years feel the exact same way. Now, obviously, there are some who feel if you didn't play the game, you can't claim ownership of a team. But the majority of them understand what it's like to be a fan, first and foremost. Because before Drew Brees became a professional quarterback, he grew up pretending to be one. Sometimes we forget that professional athletes were just like us way back when. They were just kids growing up idolizing Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or the Boston Celtics. I still hear NFL players refer to their favorite NBA or MLB teams as "we" or "us." If you spent your entire life watching that team play and going through the ups-and-downs, then you have invested something in that team.

    Too often, I think journalists try to be hard-asses and act like they've never in their life experienced joy in a sporting event. Like I said earlier, I'm a fan. I just so happen to be a fan who was blessed with a gift and I turned that into a career covering sports. The day I got my first job as a journalist, I didn't all of a sudden lose all connection to my childhood memories. When I'm watching the game at home, I'm no longer StaggerLee, journalist. I'm StaggerLee, crazed fan who breaks remotes and screams at the TV.

    I'll always be a fan, that's not going to change. I just learned how to control my fanhood when I'm in a professional setting.
  9. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    Whenever someone says, "Oh, we were so close to winning ...," inevitably, I'll chime in with, "Oh, really. We you on the bench? Are you on the payroll? No? But, I thought by "we," you meant you were on the team. My fault."

    They don't like that.
  10. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Well-Known Member

    Totally disagree with you Zeke. And I've asked the players. Some don't like fans saying "we", others embrace it.

    In fact, just this week, a guy who told me earlier this year he didn't like fans saying "we" when talking about their favorite team contradicted himself when talking NBA with a teammate. He said "Man, you know when we get Joe Blow Guard back at full strength, we're coming for ya'll ass."

    I looked at him and said, "We? What's with this we? Since when did you start suiting up for Podunkville USA?" He chuckled and said, "You got me, I guess I'm guilty of it too."
  11. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    And none of that means you're on the team.

    Which means we is incorrect.
  12. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    "They" is proper. "We" is annoying.
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