There’s a significant age difference between me and my next sibling, and as such, I spent most of my childhood as an only child. As an only child of a sports fanatic in the city of Boston, that status meant many hours of my formative years were spent in sporting venues. Summer nights were spent in our third baseline seats at in Fenway Park and winter ones were spent in the Garden in our fifth-row seats behind the net/goal. (The Patriots actually play about 45 minutes south of a city, so a voyage to Gillette was a bit rarer and an extra special treat). It didn’t matter if it was a school night; bedtimes didn’t matter if there was a game. In fact, I had a reputation of occasionally falling asleep during games – there’s a picture of me, curled up in my yellow seat, dead asleep during a Bruins playoff game that resided on my dad’s desk for years. If it ever exasperated him to have a seat mate who sometimes nodded off, he never mentioned it. I can’t say the same for my teachers on the days after some of those night games.
I don’t write this so you can be jealous of my privileged childhood spent in the really good seats (which you totally should be). Instead, I write this so that you may understand the ridiculous attachment to sports some of us Bostonians have. Yes, I know we’re perceived as obnoxious, making jokes about how many months it’s been since our last championship parade or quoting DJ Khalid about how all we do is “win win win no matter what.” Our hype videos talk about legacy and destiny and almost always feature Tom Brady in some fashion, even if it’s not for football. A newscaster just referred to my city as “Titletown” and even I threw up in my mouth a little bit. And I’ll give you that that all is seriously fucking annoying.
But here’s the thing: many of us spent our childhoods in those seats or in front of the TV, screaming at the game with the most important man in our life, when none of that winning was happening. When the Red Sox were cursed and the Celtics were so bad they literally gave way loge tickets so people went to the games. And for me, and probably lots of other kids, the suckiness of those teams didn’t matter – they were simply treasured moments spent with our dads in a city where sports rules above all else. And the importance of those moments didn’t change when our teams suddenly started to get good.
I write this as I sit on my bed watching my beloved Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals and thinking about my dad and how much he would have loved this. While his rogue daughter put football ahead of hockey in her order of preferred sports, my dad loved hockey. If he was still here, there’s no doubt in my mind that my dad be planted in his regular seat in the “new” Garden (If you are from here and have a sports-living dad, you have been told many a time how the old, crumbling Garden with its sticky floors and obstructed views was far superior to its modern incarnation), screaming for his team in his pure R-deficient Boston accent. Likely his daughter would have been right next to him, as his son, for reasons unknown to us, is a Washington Capitals fan. I’m pretty sure he’s adopted, despite our startling likeness.
But here’s what you need to understand about Boston fans: we would have been in those seats for the entire season because they were the most special of moments, win or lose. Boston fans aren’t obnoxious because we win; we’re horrible because we genuinely love our teams whether they are good (see Celtics: Pierce/Garnett/Allen years) or bad (see Celtics: 2005-2007) because they are tied to some of our most precious moments of childhood. It’s something to share with our families and that threads through generations. Our commitment to our teams hasn’t changed; their luck simply has. So while you may think we’re insufferable (and we probably are), but for us, it’s just about family.