There are certain unwritten laws for being a sports fan, and I am guilty of violating one of the paramount tenets of them: don’t switch your team allegiances.
Over the course of my four years in Ithaca, my NFL team allegiance has slowly, but irrevocably, shifted from the Washington Redskins to the Baltimore Ravens. My choice has provoked condemnation from not only my friends back home who are Redskins fans but nearly every sports fan whom I have told about my switch.
I was never a die-hard Redskins fan — that special place in my heart is reserved exclusively for the Baltimore Orioles — but I was unquestionably a fan growing up and throughout high school. Most of my close friends were Redskins fans, and gathering on Sundays to sing “Hail to the Redskins” every time the team scored is among my best memories of high school.
I was removed from the communal aspect of rooting for the Redskins when I came to Ithaca, and my passion began to slide into indifference. I began to look more critically at the team and began to conclude that the Redskins were the Yankees of the NFL — except they sucked. It is a lot easier to feel good rooting for a bad team that is impeded in its ability to field a competitive team by its small-market size, but it is a lot harder to root for the bad team that has all the money it wants and still can’t win.
The Redskins organization also conducts itself in a low-class manner. The Redskins will sue fans who are unable to afford their season tickets, including a 72-year-old retired grandmother. When the weekly Washington City Paper published a list of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s top 100 mistakes, Snyder decided to sue the paper for libel. Snyder eventually dropped the suit, but not before the ensuing controversy caused the article to be viewed so many times that the website’s server crashed.
I looked to my other hometown team and saw an organization I could get behind. The Ravens don’t make splashy signings every off-season. Instead, the core of the team has remained remarkably consistent over the years, and the team has made the playoffs eight out of the past 11 seasons.
I don’t own any Ravens apparel; the idea of it still seems kind of weird. I understand the criticisms for jumping ship on a favorite team, but I vehemently oppose being labeled a bandwagon jumper. I did not switch my allegiances to the best team in the NFL regardless of geographical location; I chose to root for one hometown team over the other. I no longer could feel good supporting an organization that did things the wrong way. Maybe every sports fan should get one mulligan in choosing teams to root for. I’ve taken mine.