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Requiem for the transplant fan

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"So a group of morons who can band together a few times a year in their new adopted home will naturally lean to becoming rather obnoxious. I get that too. If I lived in San Diego, where the Broncos enjoy a healthy home field advantage, I’d be there rooting on my team. But I wouldn’t be a total dick about it. But that’s just me."

I am a transplant.

I know, I know. But before you start to fill up those bags of human feces to lob at me, hear me out. I’ve lived in Colorado since 1983. At this point, I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else and for the majority of my life. It’s my home. And the sports teams are mine.

But that wasn’t always the case.

When I moved here from Illinois (I know, I know) I was a Bears, Blackhawks and White Sox fan. I didn’t know much about those teams, I just followed them because my dad did. I hated the Colorado teams - or let’s be honest - the Broncos, because my dad didn’t like them.

The Bears winning the Super Bowl in 1985 certainly didn’t help me realize my destiny as a Colorado sports fan. The obnoxious zealots around me who worshipped at the feet of Elway were no match for the awesome power of that championship Bears team.

I think it was the fact that I had moved to a place very different from what I was used to and the fanaticism toward the local football team, combined with whatever alienation I was feeling, pushed me closer to my childhood teams.

So I get it transplants. I really do.

But knock it the fuck off.

Once I realized I loved Colorado, I developed a sense of pride and with that, an affection for the sports teams. It helped that some new teams were added in the coming years and my civic pride only grew. Even my parents, dyed-in-the-wool Chicago sports fans, became Rockies fans.

So when I see the many, many transplants who have set up shop in our beautiful city, I can’t help but think they need to get over their old allegiances. I don’t expect anyone to completely abandon where they come from and their traditions, but I do expect them to recognize the rules of the land and bestow even the tiniest bit of respect on the teams we all venerate.

The posturing by transplants when their favorite team comes to town is juvenile at best, vile at worst. If you were brave enough to go to Coors this week and see the Rockies beat the Cubs fairly convincingly, you would have been treated to a full blast of the insecure transplant: beating his (and her) chest over idiotic provincial nonsense.

The Cubs fans (already an odious fanbase), having been further emboldened by a World Series win, make a show of it when their team is in town. Partly because they are loathsome and partly because they live here en masse now because Denver is such a boom town. The Cubs were also one of the teams shown on WGN that you could watch in Denver before the Rockies came to town, so there’s a trace of the cause in that too.

So a group of morons who can band together a few times a year in their new adopted home will naturally lean to becoming rather obnoxious. I get that too. If I lived in San Diego, where the Broncos enjoy a healthy home field advantage, I’d be there rooting on my team. But I wouldn’t be a total dick about it. But that’s just me.

You will never change the transplant over to the local teams unless they are a highly evolved sports fan and that is pretty rare in the wild. But what you can depend on is the children of those transplants to eschew their parents boring old bullshit and take a look at the local teams when the time is right.

Kids gravitate to what’s popular. That’s why you see so many Steph Curry jerseys in the 9-13 age range. He’s a great player and is featured prominently everywhere because he’s a marketing dream who plays deep into the postseason every year. That’s why Peyton Manning and the Broncos Super Bowl 50 win went a long way to converting a lot of the transplants’ kids. Manning, the legend, reached football’s zenith in his last game. And kids all across Colorado, no matter if their stupid dad is a Jets fan, took notice and became Broncos fans.

Winning also shuts up the transplants. While the Avs have been bad, the Chicago Blackhawks have been good. So the summer Cubs fans trade in their Kris Bryant jerseys for a Patrick Kanes and pull the same tired act at Pepsi Center in the winter. Nuggets coach Mike Malone famously derided fans by saying Denver didn’t really have a home court advantage. Too many transplants rooting on their Lakers, Bulls and Cavs. But if these Denver teams are good and playing consistently well (as in making a run in the playoffs) it will create an environment where the transplant fans will become more and more outnumbered.

If the Rockies, although a baby compared to the Cubs team history, string together some successful seasons, the Rockies fans will eventually overtake the transplants. By just showing up and generationally creating new fans.

I know the transplants suck. I can’t stand them either. But that’s what happens when you live in a great place like Denver. The sad and insecure move here and feel the need to drag their baggage into your team’s house. But I changed. And they can too.

We have a proud tradition of loving our sports teams here in Colorado and I realized that if I loved the place I lived, I needed to give myself over to it wholeheartedly. And once I did, I felt like I truly belonged. You don’t even have to like football, but if you know what’s it’s like to be a Coloradoan, you’ve said “Go Broncos” at least once on a Sunday.

So don’t argue with the transplants. Don’t expend any more energy on them than you have to. Just smile, tell them there’s a reason they live here and not there. And then buy their kids some Rockies hats.

John Reidy

I never really liked sports until I had a religious conversion when the Broncos lost to the 49ers in that one Super Bowl. Now I'm obsessed with all aspects of the Denver pro sports world. Oh yeah, hate college football. And I used to write a column for AV Club Denver but now am a full time contributor to this here site.

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