"What would it have hurt to give the old “I’m rooting for the Red Sox, but would be thrilled if the Rockies won” kind of answer? Nothing. But Zappolo, tossing aside the many decades of goodwill he’s earned from the people of Colorado, took a big, fat dump on sports fans in Colorado with his cold, and typical, east coast bias."
Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but what will Mile High Sports’s Peter Burns do if the Denver Nuggets meet the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs? Burns is a noted Spurs fan and his allegiance to his favorite team and his fondness for his adopted home town will certainly be tested. “No question, Spurs all the way,” he said, “I’m not a journalist, I’m a fan with a microphone.” And with that, we’ve now seen the full advent of the fan-alist: people in the media who cling to their favorite teams as the new reality in sports. The old school journalist is gone. Welcome to the world of media with a rooting interest.
Burns may have a problem on his hands should the Nuggets and Spurs face off in the NBA playoffs. Being on the radio every morning on Mile High Sports with Eric Goodman and Mark Kiszla, he may incur the wrath of Nuggets fans should the series turn bad for the hometown team. As I’m sure it will. But more and more as we see the “fan-alist” emerge, they can still do the smart thing and play both sides by adopting a “no matter who wins, I win” strategy.
Another local media guy with sports allegiances in other cities is Nate Kreckman. The excellent ESPN radio host is an acclaimed Cubs fan and has no desire to adopt the Colorado Rockies over his beloved home town team. And there is no real pressure to do so. So who would he root for? “Cubbies. My job is to cover and analyze the Rox,” he said, “not to be a fan.” Media personalities like Kreckman and Burns let you know where they’re coming from at the start. So it isn’t a surprise that they may be rooting against a Denver team when the situation calls for it. And it’s a nice set up: if their fave teams win, they can enjoy the victory. If the Nuggets or Rockies win, they have more to talk about on their radio shows. Kreckman added, “Although I tend to root for them (the Rockies) in most every situation, my job is more interesting and it's good for the city when they do well.” Kreckman is upbeat about it, but sometimes the “fan-alist” takes a dark turn.
Ron Zappolo famously did not adopt this strategy when the Rockies faced the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 World Series. Zappolo, a prominent Red Sox fan, refused to even halfway root for the Rockies and made his allegiance to the Red Sox become painfully clear. What would it have hurt to give the old “I’m rooting for the Red Sox, but would be thrilled if the Rockies won” kind of answer? Nothing. But Zappolo, tossing aside the many decades of goodwill he’s earned from the people of Colorado, took a big, fat dump on sports fans in Colorado with his cold, and typical, east coast bias. One hopes Burns and Kreckman are smarter than that and will carefully craft their rooting allegiance based on the situation and which way the wind is blowing in Denver. But I can’t blame them for getting excited about their favorite teams. Just don’t be a dick about it.
Colorado and Denver in general, has experienced a massive influx of transplants for as long as we can remember. But with the availability of getting your favorite teams on your TV at any time and the widespread information available about them on the internet, sports fans haven’t had to abandon their home town team while being exiled in the sublime beauty that is Colorado. And because of this, you get Red Wings fans packing the Pepsi Center, Steelers fans plaguing Mile High and Cubs fans infesting Coors. They don’t have to abandon their childhood teams because it’s like they never left. As we get to enjoy those fans in their full throated glory. Yeah, it sucks, but if you can remind yourself that where they’re from is such a crap-hole, and Colorado is such a great place to live, you won’t be so bummed that they’re taking up seats. It’s a trade off. The Cubs won’t even come to town until September, so Kreckman is off the hook for a little while. And the Nuggets have to get through the Lakers to even have a chance of meeting the Spurs in the second round. So enjoy these fine radio talents…until their horrible teams come to town.
(programming note: We will be outing all Denver media members and their sports allegiances on the next podcast)