I believe it was in the second grade when I was told by some of my friends that I had to root for all the Minnesota teams because they were the closest teams to my hometown of Huron, SD. That just didn't sit right for a kid with an independence streak 2 miles wide, so I set forth to choose my own teams to follow and just to add to stubborn streak, I decided that I wouldn't like the local teams and that I wouldn't choose the most popular teams of pro sports. So there went the Yankees, Celtics, Dodgers, Cowboys and all the other prima donna teams out there. Well, my selections were made over 30 years ago and I haven't switched teams since I made my choice even though more often than not I have no rooting interest in the playoffs.
For the sport of basketball, I chose the Dallas Mavericks before they were cool. I remember the backcourt of Rolando Blackman and Brad Davis. I thought that I had found the best backcourt in the entire NBA. I remember the players that rolled through Dallas in the 80's and 90's. Sam Perkins, Detlef Schrempf, Roy Tarpley, and many others. I was happy when a brash newcomer named Mark Cuban became owner and I still regard him as the best owner in the NBA bar none. The thing that brought me into the Mavericks fold was the game that they played way back when. They liked to play fast on both sides of the ball, they weren't as high scoring as the Nuggets and Suns, but they actually played defense. MFFL.
On to baseball, I decided upon the Houston Astros. Why? The rainbow uniforms and J.R. Richard. I love color and the uniforms of the Astros had color galore. The thing that clinched me being a fan of Houston's was the star pitcher J.R. Richard. The man was the power pitcher of his time. I wanted to be him when I grew up. During Little League, I was the J.R. Richard of the league. I could throw hard and didn't care what a curve ball was. I reared back and threw as hard as I could. Of course, once in a while I was wild with a pitch, but that was just the way power pitchers were according to the sportscasters. Anyways, Richards had arm problems and could no longer pitch and that bummed me out. But my fandom stayed with the Astros through tough losses in the NL West and later through the NL Central. The 2005 World Series was a tough watch because I still know that Houston was a better team than the White Sox. Anyways, I am looking forward to seeing the team return to glory after the complete rebuild of the entire organization.
Football was easy. I needed to find a team in the NFC Central that had the fewest fans near where I was. Well, the choices were Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, or Tampa Bay. In the northern plains, there were no Tampa Bay fans. Besides, the swashbuckler on the side of the helmet was cool. The fact that Tampa has won a Super Bowl and the Vikings have not, just makes that choice that much sweeter. It also gives me a quick comeback when my friends give me grief about Tampa sucking any year.
Finally, hockey was the most difficult. I liked plenty of teams. Chicago, Philly, St. Louis, Detroit, and others were considered. Hartford was the eventual winner. The reason? I hated Boston and the Rangers and I figured that a team in between those two cities would play the hardest against those two teams. I no longer hate the Bruins, despise would be a better word for my feeling towards them. I still wish that the Rangers would fall off the face of the earth, sort of like the Capitals, but that is another story. The team moved to North Carolina and became the Hurricanes and I am still a fan of the team, even though ownership has caused some painful times and the long-time GM should have been fired about 4 times over.
Loyalty is a major personality trait that I have. And it extends into who I support in sports. At any time I could change teams and most people wouldn't hold it against me, but just because one or ten seasons in a row became a disappointment doesn't mean bailing out on supporting them. I hope that my example extends to my son and he is a supporter of his teams through thick and thin. He roots for the Heat, Packers, the Carolina Hurricanes. And those I applaud him for. But I am trying to get him to change his baseball team. The Reason? I want him to at least have a chance at his team winning a World Series. If he continues to root for the Cubs, then he won't have that chance.