After the Giants upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl, I was looking at various websites and forums ,revelling in the joy of the moment, when I came across a rant by JoAnnefromBoston.She was complaining bitterly about the officiating, enumerating all the wrong decisions the referees had made, decisions which robbed the Patriots of a historic victory and made a mockery of the Game. I too had watched the Super Bowl but could only recall one or two errors by the refs. On the whole, I thought the mistakes evened out . It didn’t seem that JoAnne and I were watching the same game. Could it be that as a Giants fan , I had been blinded by my loyalties ? Happily for me, some of the other responders ,who said they were neutrals, told JoAnne to stop whining and deal with the loss.
JoAnne was suffering from what I call the Skewed Perceptions Syndrome or , in other words, ” My team plays hard; your team plays dirty.” To be fair, all of us are guilty of it at one time or another, not just JoAnnefromBoston.
For instance, as a Giants fan, I am convinced that the Philadelphia Eagles are a bunch of vicious ruffians who are out to maim the Giants QB and knock him out of the game. I also know that the Giants have a hardworking, blue-collar guys who play tough but fair. An Eagles fan , on the other hand, feels exactly the opposite.
However, it is my perceptions of Shaq and Pat Riley that best illustrate this syndrome. As a rabid Laker fan, I was a fervent supporter of those two when they were with the Lakers. I couldn’t understand those who criticised Shaq and said he was a bully who used his bulk to beat up on opponents and move them out of the way so that he could throw in a thunderous dunk. I remember sympathizing with Shaq when he complained about the punishment he was taking in the paint and how the referees weren’t calling even the most blatant fouls committed against him. And surely, there should be some rule against the Hack-the Shaq strategy adopted by opposing teams?It was against the Spirit of the Game and should be made illegal.
When Shaq departed for Miami, I at once saw the error of my ways. It was glaringly obvious that Shaq was an overgrown bully without any real skills. Did you see how he threw his elbows around ? Why didn’t the refs ever call any fouls on him ? Look at the way he was abusing those undersized opposing centers ?
And Pat Riley. When he was with the Lakers, he was calm and analytical, managing somehow to harness all the big egos on the team while remaining in the background. Such a pleasure to see him pacing the sidelines in those beautifully cut suits. How could I have been so wrong ? Immediately he went to the Knicks, I realized that he was a control freak with a huge ego. Definitely, a me-first attitude. He proved it in spades when he went to Miami, replacing Stan Van Gundy for no good reason and taking over the helm when he realized that the Heat had a chance to win it all.
With most of us, it’s only when our teams are not involved that we can be objective in our assessments. For example, I have always liked Steve Nash of the Suns, a low-key individual and upstanding citizen who has always the team ahead of himself. (I may change my opinion if the Lakers and the Suns meet in the Western Conference Finals). And Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are All World quarterbacks in my boook, unless they are going against the Giants.
Actually, I think that I’m more objective about my likes and dislikes than most sports fans. As proof I offer the fact that I never liked Roger Clemens… not when he was with the Blue Jays, not when he was with the Red Sox , not when he was with the Astros and not even when he was with the Yankees. And I’m not parochial like my friend Arnie who, as soon as the Mets are out of the playoffs, says ” Time for football .” Two months later , with the Jets on the sidelines , he goes ” Time for the Rangers.” I do continue to watch sports even when MY team is out of contention.
Bottom Line; There is a little of JoAnnefromBoston in all of us. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what being a fan is all about.