Lets face it, moving from Utah to Maryland is just about as dramatic a move as one can make and still live within these here United States. Not surprisingly, then, I am frequently asked what is the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make after moving from back-water Utah to the nation’s capital. While there are several possible answers to that question, one stands out from the rest: Deciding which professional sports teams I’m going to support.
For my friends and family back in Utah, this decision may seem trivial. But what they don’t realize is just how many pro teams there are in the area. In Utah you have the Jazz and… well, that’s it. Someone moving to Utah doesn’t have to wonder which basketball team to cheer for. In fact, there is a bill before the Utah House of Representatives that would issue a Jazz bumper sticker to all new Utah residents with their first tax return. A more draconian measure tied to a rather reactionary anti-immigration motion in the state Senate would require would-be Utah citizens to memorize the Jazz’s team rosters for the two finals years, as well as demonstrate sufficient “patriotism” by enthusiastically yelling “Stockton to Malone!”
But not so in Maryland. Thankfully there is only one NBA team in the area, the Washington Wizards, which would make my basketball decision easy if I didn’t plan to continue supporting the Jazz in order to retain my Utah citizenship. But for both football and baseball I am faced with a mighty conundrum: will it be the Baltimore Ravens/Orioles, the Washington Redskins/Nationals or some combination of the two?
The choice of MLB team was actually surprisingly difficult. Normally, I don’t care enough about baseball to know which team is likely to win the pennant… or to even tell you what the pennant is (I honestly don’t know). But we’ve put Byron in a lot of sports this year in order to help him adjust to the move, and by far his favorite has been baseball, so now I have to take my budding baseball super star to an MLB game. It took a little while, but I finally decided to be guided by my raging indifference to the sport and simply choose a team based on where I can get the cheapest tickets. Orioles it is.
But choosing an NFL team has been much more complicated, and honestly one that I have struggled mightily with over the year we’ve been in the area. I admit I’ve procrastinated the day of my decision, but with football season on the near horizon, the day of reckoning is at hand.
The Redskins seem to be the team celeb here in suburban Maryland. According to an un-scientific survey conducted by Byron, his classmates are either fans of “the Redskins or the Cowboys.” When he asked me why anyone in Maryland would cheer for the Cowboys I could only shake my head in wonder and admit that I didn’t know. Thankfully he didn’t ask me the harder question of why anyone would cheer for Jerry’s ‘boys at all. Byron’s best friend here was among the Redskin fans in his class so Byron has predictably chosen the Redskins for his team.
But I have a few problems with the Redskins. First, they tend to lose a lot of games. Second, that burnt red color just doesn’t look good on me. And third, they’re in the NFC with my beloved ‘9ers, who are going all the way this year! (to .500).
Being a slave to fashion, I started considering the Ravens. At first glance the Ravens should be a no-brainer for me. They are, after all, named after Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, The Raven. However, as is well known, Poe didn’t write The Raven when he lived in Baltimore, he wrote it in New York. Yes, Poe did live and write in Baltimore for a time and he famously died there of mysterious circumstance, but his most important work was the product of another city. How am I, a presumptive English teacher, to sanction this gross disregard for accurate literary history by the National Football League and it’s players? If there’s anyone who should have a thoughtful regard, nay, reverence, for literary history, it should be Ray Lewis. Now, if the owners had chosen to name the team “The Inebriates” after Baltimore’s favorite literary son, I wouldn’t have to “ponder, weak and weary, over” which football team to adopt as my own.
So, literary history failing me once again in a trivial life decision (selecting online monikers being the other), I was forced to consider other factors in deciding which NFL team I would spend my Sundays half-watching between Meet the Press and This Week with George Stephanopolous. That’s right, I pursued the only logical course of action in this type of situation–choose based on logo.
Or the Ravens:
Here I finally have a deciding factor. It’s not that I have a problem with tasteful use of native-Americans as sports mascots (I am a graduate of the University of Utah Runnin’ Utes, after all), but if you know anything about me, then you know I’m a sucker for a good coat-of-arms. Score another one for Baltimore! I look forward to getting my Ravens bumper sticker once my tax returns arrive.