For the love of the game

Fans the lifeblood of professional sport


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Jocks complain about fans at times but without the nutters in the face paint there would be no $100 million contracts for grown men who happen to throw a ball hard or drive a car fast or sink long putts.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/03/2011 (4377 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Jocks complain about fans at times but without the nutters in the face paint there would be no $100 million contracts for grown men who happen to throw a ball hard or drive a car fast or sink long putts.

Fans make a stadium rock and cash registers ring. They order games on pay-per-view and buy tickets. They draw up signs and sing songs in the stands and argue what team is best in bars. They make sports relevant.

Players can argue they are the game but they’re wrong. Without the fans the guys in the Leafs jerseys would be no different than the boys on the ice at Dakota or River Heights this Sunday morning. Fans are the lifeblood of professional sport.

Sitting in a Glendale city council meeting a few months back, remember we thought this deal was done then, and listening to fans discuss the future of their Coyotes, I was struck once again by the blind faith and passion people put behind their sporting heros.

Here are the Coyotes, one of the worst sports teams in terms of success on and off the ice, and people are literally weeping over the possibility of them leaving. Winnipeggers can relate as many still haven’t gotten over the heartache of seeing the Jets leave town some 15 years ago.

The Coyotes cult left me thinking, – these are pretty good fans. They love their team and despite epic struggles on and off the ice remain invested. Good for them.

But where do they rate in terms of the best teams in sport? Sorry, but not very high. The one thing they’re known for is The Whiteout and they stole that from Winnipeggers.

So what fans are the best? This is entirely subjective and meant to be cheeky. We’re also sticking to North America because we fully admit to knowing nothing about soccer or cricket and the people that watch those games.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Any of you who have read my NFL coverage will be aware of my love for the Steelers. I’ll admit to having two jerseys, a hoodie, gloves and toque emblazoned with the Steelers logo but I’m a minor leaguer in terms of my affection for the six-time Super Bowl champions. Steelers fans are a worldwide network with Steelers bars all over the planet. One Steelers nut I know interupted a family vacation to Italy to take in a Steelers game and found a bar draped in black and gold with framed jerseys on the wall. The Steelers rarely play a real road game as their fans are everywhere and the Terrible Towels can be seen in every NFL stadium.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders

Sorry Blue Bombers faithful but the Rider Nation takes this spot hands down. Ever been to Labour Day? Or the Grey Cup? Or church in downtown Regina during the CFL season? More green than downtown Boston on St. Paddy’s Day. Faithful, loyal, creative and willing to travel at a moment’s notice for the Green Riders.

3. New York Yankees

Just on sheer numbers alone this group gets major consideration. Anywhere you go there’s a good chance you’ll see a Yankees cap. Sure, they’re front-runners and can be utterly obnoxious but with more World Series titles than any other team – they’ve earned their bragging rights.

4. Boston Red Sox

Right behind the Yanks in both their spending and obnoxious ways. Red Sox nation has made big steps over the last 10 years. Once just a bunch of loveable losers with the Curse of the Bambino and Bill Buckner’s booboo hanging over their heads – Sox fans have taken on a new arrogance since winning the World Series in 2004 and again in 07.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

For us, it’s one of the great mysteries in life – cheering for the Leafs. Why anyone would do it is beyond us. They’ve been pathetic for years and haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967. But there is no doubt they are loyal and legion. Leafs fans fill buildings all around the continent and they proudly where their colours. Give them credit, they stick to their team despite the thin dramatically outweighing the thick.

6. Dallas Cowboys

Known as America’s Team for a long time – the Cowboys have fans everywhere. From their cheerleaders to on field success – people all over North America came to love the Cowboys. They’re also Mexico’s team as most NFL fans in that country cheer for the Cowboys as well.

7. Montreal Canadiens

More Stanley Cups than any other franchise plus a rich and mulit-lingual history make the Habs a favourite to so many. The last Canadian team to win a Stanley Cup back in 1993 and legends such as Maurice Richard, Scotty Bowman, Howie Morenz, Guy Lafleur and Jean Beliveau gives the Habs a romantic legacy many can grasp. But they’re polarizing. It’s love them or hate them with the Canadiens.

8. Green Bay Packers

This NFL franchise may play in the league’s smallest market but Packer fans seem to be everywhere these days. They nearly rivalled Steelers supporters at this year’s Super Bowl and were certainly louder after the game as their team won it’s fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Cheeseheads love to where their green and yellow. We know one guy who where’s Packers keepah around Winnipeg.

9. Chicago Cubs

Chicago sports fans are among the best in the world and despite the Bulls, Bears, White Sox and Bears all having won more recent world titles – it’s the Cubbies they love the best. Wrigley Field is among one of the most coveted baseball experiences. When the opposition hits a homer into the bleachers – fans chant “throw it back,” until the offending ball is returned to the field of play.

10. Manny Pacquiao

This boxer from the Philippines is so beloved his people elected him to Congress. His fights draw huge pay per view numbers and he’s considered the best pound for pound fighter of the day. From his love song recordings – big sellers in his home nation – to his ring acumen – the Pacman is hugely popular.

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