Why do fans love sports? No really. Think about it. Because it’s a distraction from the real world? Sure. Because it embodies a thrill? Absolutely. Because it is tradition? I believe so. Because it reminds us of different times in our lives that we use sports to associate with? I’ll buy that. How about because of the sense of being a part of something bigger than oneself? For sure.
I believe these are some of the answers that may come to one’s mind when asking that seemingly simple question. But just for a few minutes, just for today, I’m going to do a little second-level writing (if I may be so bold as to assume I’m even capable of such a feat).
For me, my deep love of sports – and more specifically Philly Sports – is all of those things and more. Much more. But what I want to focus on, if you’ll indulge me a bit, is WHY do fans actually root for their teams. The part and reason and way in which fans root for THEIR teams. This use of “THEY” or “THEIR” refers to the fans’ ownership of the team and fans considering themselves as one with the team.
You see, because fans feel so invested in their teams, they almost feel a part of said team. This isn’t rocket science or anything. It’s the reason why when referring to the Eagles, for example, if you’re at Lincoln Financial Field watching a game live and you missed a play because you ran to the concession stand to get a frosty cold beverage and hear a loud cheer, you can ask a fellow Eagles fan this question: “What just happened? “What did WE do?”.
“What did WE do”, you asked. You most likely didn’t say “What did THEY do?”.
It’s an interesting dynamic and it’s something you’re supposed to stay away from as a member of the media – purely for professional purposes (so excuse me for carefully following that guideline, despite my desire to do otherwise). But as a fan, you have no such obligations.
It’s an inclusiveness that can make everyone from the fans, to the players, to the coaches, – hell even the Front Office – feel that they are all in this together. It allows them to say, “WE” and have it mean so many people who – in reality – are perfect strangers, but in the collective sports mind of a city are all part of one big family.
“We need help at Running Back.”
Well, they do, in fact need a stud running back. And they will most likely aquire one from the upcoming draft.
Joe Mixon, out of Oklahoma may be the most talented back in the draft. Mel Kiper says so. So do many draft analysts. Frankly, he is amazing on the field. He has great vision, he catches the ball out of the backfield – and he will definitely be available at the Eagles’ pick in the first round (number 14 overall). And there is no doubt that the Eagles need his on-field ability.
But there are severe off-the-field issues, which by now, most of you know all about. In case you don’t, here is a summary that is disturbing and disgusting, but necessary to know the story.
There is a readily accessible video you can easily find online that shows the events described below in crystal clear detail, but I am not comfortable providing a link to it, for my part.
In 2014 Mixon, who was 18 at the time is seen in the video entering a Norman, Oklahoma sandwich shop. A woman leaning on a table talking to a male friend is approached by Mixon. The woman claims Mixon made an unwanted sexual advance, a claim Mixon denies. There were allegations of gay and racial slurs from both sides. Whatever Mixon did say made the woman mad enough that she shoves Mixon in the chest and he responds by faking as if he is going to hit her.
The woman then swings with her right hand and hits Mixon on the neck. Mixon then punches the woman in the face with a right fist. The woman crumbles to the floor, hitting her face on the table as she goes to the ground and Mixon calmly walks out of the shop. His punch broke four bones in her face. Mixon accepted a plea deal and received one year of probation, counseling and 100 hours of community service. He was suspended by the football program for one season.
He returned in 2015 and Mixon rushed for a total of 2,027 yards the past two years.
And this is where the Eagles can potentially come in.
See, I believe in second chances. I believe there are a TON of things that happened in years past that we don’t know about with some of the most famous athletes because there was no social media, less cameras, etc. Well, that’s all well and good, but just because a things is more easily captured on camera doesn’t mean it should become more normal to view.
Mixon “served his time” – or at least the plea deal he took. And second chances are one thing, but the question at issue is should the severity of the situation affect how far you are willing to extend that “second chance” to?
If Mixon joins the team, he becomes a part of that “family” of “perfect strangers”. He becomes inseparable from the last man on the roster, and he brings with him the absolute undeniable fact that he wound up and hit the woman in the video with so much malice and force that she couldn’t get up for several minutes, and then was only able to gingerly make it upright after being helped by several people. There’s certainly the obvious negative connotations that would place on whatever NFL Organization – or team – winds up drafting him. And make no mistake about it, someone will, and they will say all of the politically correct things that goes along with it. And they may even wind up never having another problem with Mixon again that anyone is ever aware of. He may even be ostracized in public events – there are all kinds of things an organization’s Public Relations staff can do to make it look like they are very serious about Mixon and that he is being carefully watched. And, in fact, that probably will be true.
The question is, as part of the inclusiveness that makes you feel comfortable calling the Eagles a part of “YOU”, do you want to welcome someone like Mixon into your fold? Do you want the possibility of it causing a fracture in your looker room? Will you be ready for all of the media scrutiny that will be put on the Eagles just because Mixon arrives?
I see the many negatives outweighing the potential positives – even if he’s still sitting there come time for the Eagles pick in the sixth round.
Because like I said in the beginning, as such hardcore fans – YOU – are invested in YOUR Eagles, and I wonder if you would feel guilty inviting Joe Mixon into your sports family.
Would there be a sense of almost feeling dirty winning with him among the fans?
Those fans who use “WE” to refer to the Eagles should care what the cost of winning is – not only to their team – but to themselves.