Monday, April 20, 2009

The Fan Perspective: We Win, but They Lost?

So I was talking to a buddy online this morning, about hockey of course. He lurks around here, usually antagonizing Pens fans and Denson, but we're going to introduce him and hopefully he makes some more public appearances, in both posts and in the comments. A die hard Flyers fan, Libey, as we'll call him, proffered a pretty good idea about why we as fans are such dildos. Not to spoil the fun, I'll hand over the reins to him.

Ok, so this is something that has bothered me for a while, purely as a hockey fan (and in some cases, sports in general). Any time you hear a fan, regardless of what team, referring to the team they root for, you’ll often hear them say “We won.” Yet, whenever “their team” loses, or does something negative, you hear “They lost.”

Some more specific examples…

After Game 1 of the Flyers-Pens series, talking with some friends who are also Flyers fans, I heard several people say things like “They played like shit,” “They need to play much better in the next game, or they’re gonna be in big trouble,” and “They let the Pens control the game tonight.” Then, after Game 3 of the same series, talking with some of the same friends, I heard people saying things like “We dominated tonight,” “We’re back in this series,” and “We have a chance now.”

Even some people, after Game 2, when the Flyers played much better, and in my own personal opinion, deserved a better fate than an overtime loss, people were still saying “They played better, but they need to win the next one.” It was still a “they” situation, because the Flyers lost.

What is the deal with this?

Most of these fans who use this verbiage (yes, I know, classy word for BanginPanger), would consider themselves die-hard fans. The type of fans who shelves full of autographed pucks, bobble heads, and framed hockey cards next to their closet full of jerseys of players from “their team” both past and present.

So why the change in wording? Why do these fans feel they are part of it when the team wins, or does something positive, and use the term “we” in describing those events, but when the team loses, they act like they weren’t a part of it, and use “they” to describe what’s happened.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t have a problem with people using the phrase “we” and feeling like they are a part of the team’s success. We all know that home ice fans can have an impact on a game, and even on top of that, let’s be honest… the purpose of professional sports is to give people entertainment, and in some cases a feeling of belonging. We all know we’ve made friends with that drunk guy at the bar with his face painted, getting shitfaced, and high fiving every stranger in the bar. Professional sports teams give us a sense of community, and make us feel we’re a part of something. That’s not my issue here.

My issue is the people that only feel “they’re a part of it” when the team does well. When losses and bad trades and suspensions happen, those events are phrased with “they” to start the sentence. It makes no sense. Just like home team fans can affect a game positively, they can affect a game negatively… either by booing their own team, or not being loud, or into the game. It’s entirely possible, and this momentum works both ways.

If you want to be a die-hard, be a die-hard.

If you want to “be part of it”, be part of it.

Just do it all the time. Win or lose.

“We lost” is a new phrase for a lot of fans out there, and it’s my suggestion people start using it. You won’t come across as a pompous jackass who thinks he’s above the team if you do.

Or maybe I’m reading into this too much… what do you guys think?

- Libey


Vance said...

How's this for a conundrum? I'm a Sabres fan first and foremost, everyone here knows that by now. When it comes to this topic, it's we across the board, we, we, we, we and more we.

But with living here in D.C. I've adopted the Caps as a 2nd team. But it's only we when at the Phone Booth or they win, otherwise it's "they", or "the Caps."

So I think it really does go to prove Libey's point that people really get involved, to a point almost too involved, with their fanaticism.

Anonymous said...

No fan should ever use "we." It reeks of jock-sniffing to the 10th power [yes, the pun was intended].

Unless you're on the team or work for the organization - and you don't, assface - don't use "we" - unless, of course, you want everyone to know what an utter tool you are.

Vance said...

My oh my, them's fightin' words.

Nice Sabres crack, even though you had to point out your own joke though, I'll still give you points for relative creativity.

But now that you've gone off on your high and mighty tangent, why is sayin "We" such a big deal? How is it jock sniffing?

Keep up the good work Anonymous. I look forward to hearing about how my face is akin to an ass some more.

dsl135 said...

Hiding under the anonymous label instead of staking claim to your remarks?

About as classy as the term "assface"...

JTizzle said...

Jock sniffing? Really? It's not that difficult to know why people use "we" and "they" in different situations. It's simple sociology... human nature. People internalize the positive outcomes, victories, and project the negative, losses, back on to the team. Instinct is not to say "I'm a loser," it's to say, "I'm a winner, but if we lose, it was your fault, not mine."

I commend you for your attempt at shock value though. Cheers!

Denson said...

Who is this JTizzle character?

Jay Dee said...

I tend to agree that no fan should ever use the term "WE" or "US" unless they have some association with the organization. It's somewhat sad to see these "Super Fans" feel that their fandom has any impact on the team, home-ice or no home-ice. Most of the time these "WE" and "US" fan usually have no understanding of the sport they root for.

Salmon said...

When writing I always try to use "they" for the team, and "we" for a sort of collective that includes all Flyers fans and the players, and the spirit of violent headhunting that makes us so proud both on and off the ice.

Vance said...

You know that's a good point, Salmon, you won't catch me saying we on here. But when I'm having casual conversation while at, watching, or discussing a particular game, then it's we.

Perhaps JTIZZLE could drop some psych knowledge on us again.

And that last line is fantastic.

Paul said...

This is a well established phenomenon called Basking in Reflected Glory (BRGing) and Cutting off Reflected Failure (CORFing) (see wikipedia or visit It's all about making ourselves feeling good with someone's success and cutting off the pain when there is failure. There some interesting research on it. Also not surprisingly there is research to support that we think referees are biased against our team. Lots of interesting sports psychology out there.

Rob said...

I spend 4 grand a year in season tickets for my Team, so I feel we have a right to use "We" if we pour money into the team.

JTizzle said...

I won't bore you with anymore of that "psycho babble" stuff as I believe some of you have termed it in the past. Paul added the necessary details to the phenomenon and there's nothing else I could add to his stellar analysis.

However, I will say this... I don't care if a fan uses "they," "we," or any number of other pronouns as long as they are WATCHING THE GAME. For far too long the sports channels across the majority of the states in the U.S. have snubbed hockey from any type of equal coverage (except in the playoffs). The more fans the better. It's not the die hards that will keep the league/franchises afloat. It's the new faces to hockey and the occasional fans that need to be won over and maintained. If taking pride in the victories and disavowing the defeats is necessary, then so be it! The ends justify the means!

Now... As a Flyers fan, We played great last night, but they were terrible in Pittsburgh. Who knows what we/they have in store for tomorrow's game!

Only time will tell!

Anonymous said...

Leave it to a Flyers fan to write a column about grammer during the playoffs. Whatsa matter, bro, need a distraction from this series? Hey you should do one about playoff beards next!

Vance said...

It's funny cause he spelled grammar wrong.

smp48 said...

He's just upset because he tried to grow one..and it turned out looking like crosby's..

digitahighlander said...

Who is this 'anonymous' cock jockey? Put down the Iron City and stop murdering the English language. (Grammer? good lord)

As far as the topic at hand, I'm sure I do this without even realizing it.

Jay, who are you to judge who's a "fan" and who's a "superfan"? Many people are HEAVILY invested -- emotionally, financially, and with their time -- in their team (I know I am with the Flyers)... they can also be superstitious and feel like they're "helping" the team with their customs (not me).

Fanatical and slightly juvenile? Maybe, but if they enjoy it to that degree, why should they temper their passion just to appease your self-satisfying one-dimensional vision of fandom?

After all, that's what makes being such a passionate fan so fun... the ups and downs.. the highs and the lows.. feeling the elation of victory as well as the sting of defeat... You pour over every play, every coaching decision, every trade... Nothing wrong with that... that's called being a fan.

So when a fan spends all of their time, money, and emotion living and dying with the teams successes and failures, why CAN'T they say "we"? Because they're not a part of the organization? That's as dumb as it gets.

So the Delta Dental Ice Girls could know nothing about the game, but they can say "we" because they work for the Flyers?

Get a clue... or better yet... get a team and BE A FAN.

Scotty Hockey said...

Great piece Panger and the we/they thing is something I have caught myself doing and still do time and again I decided to rationalize it thusly: 'we' won because everyone showed up and the team proved victorious. 'They' lost because the players sucked; I didn't lose because I did my part by paying my money, cheering my cheers and sticking with my good luck routines ... =op

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Fact: BanginPanger is not meant as an insult to the one and only Darren Pang, nor do I claim to be him. The views and opinions presented on BanginPanger are of my own, and no other namesake of the site, the NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, or anyone else.