Now you have me thinking about spectatorship and fandom, Musa D.
As I see it, this world has limiters and it has enablers. The person at Motts who decided that an applesauce jar should be sealed so tightly that only the strongest of humans, using every ounce of his strength, should be allowed to get at the mashed fruit-water inside the jar has to be considered a limiter. TiVo? Enabler. Diapers? Enabler. A hat can sometimes be an enabler for a man with a bald spot. You get the idea.
As a fan, I try to be more enabler and less limiter. This means that I spend the majority of my sports-viewing time rooting for a particular player or team. I do not, with very few exceptions, root against players or teams. At worst, I simply don't care.
To do this successfully I have had to undergo a transformation that many fans would consider to be blasphemous: I have taught myself to care less about teams and more about the individual players. I like Derek Jeter. I like Jose Reyes. And I also like Wily Mo Pena. And I LOVE the potential of Baltimore’s, Daniel Cabrera, all 6’7” 260 pounds of him. In a start this past spring, he walked 9 guys in five innings but his 10 strikeouts helped minimize the damage to one run. The guy is both unhittable and unable to throw strikes. I argue that he is the most interesting pitcher in all of baseball to watch because in the back of your mind you know that you are either watching the baseball equivalent of Michael Jordan (incredible NBA player and star of the flick Space Jam) or Harold “Baby Jordan” Minor (his nickname aside, his NBA career had very little in common with Adult Jordan).
Some fans have the Boston Fan Who Actively Roots Against The Yankees disease. This disease, which I call BFWARATY (phonetically: BF War-A-Tee) for short, is a quiet rage against a particular team or player that becomes vocal in direct proportion to alcohol consumption. This rage is often most severely directed at the best teams or athletes: Tiger Woods has his fair share of closet haters, for example, as did/does Jordan. Other examples include Notre Dame football, the Yanks, Jeter, Microsoft, Pfizer, and hot dogs.
A true sports fan, a pure fan, is one who does not succumb to the urge to belittle everyone who is not currently wearing a Red Sox uniform. These are the fans that started hating the heretofore loved Johnny Damon on December 23rd, 2005 at 3:57pm EST. Which is rediculous. I am a Yanks fan (and a Mets fan) but I also like Wily Mo Pena because I think he has the potential—if he learns how to take a pitch—to become a David Ortiz-like player. I enjoy watching him play because each at bat is another sentence in the story of his career, a story I'm interested in (will he be a star or won't he?).
The trick is to realize that fans everywhere are really rooting for characters in a story where sports happen to be played. And sometimes the players who play for the team located in the city nearest to where you happened to have spent your childhood aren’t writing the best stories.