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'We' Are What 'We' Are Because That's What We're Told To Be

A discussion about using the pronoun 'we' when discussing your favorite sports team got me thinking about the way we're told to think about our favorite sports team.

Brett Carlsen

We sucked last night.

By "we" I am of course referring to the Syracuse Orange basketball team, which somehow lost to Georgia Tech at home on Senior night.

At least, maybe you're saying 'we' lost. You might also be saying "they" lost because you're trying to distance yourself.

You've probably read Brent Axe's piece about using "we" when referring to your favorite sports team, and specifically about SU fans.

I've done it. I do it all the time, honestly. And I'll say that I don't really notice or care or have any desire not to do it.

And the more I thought about it, the more I felt totally fine about saying "we" or not saying "we" as the case may be. Because I started thinking about the way sports teams market to me and if there is anything made abundantly clear, it's that my favorite teams want me to say "we."

Think about every marketing or advertising program you've ever seen encouraging you to buy season tickets or merchandise or attend an event. The intention is always to tell you how important it is that YOU are involved. That YOU are in the stands. That YOU are wearing the jersey. That YOU attend the special event.

"The 12th Man." If that isn't a gimmick meant to make us believe we're a vital part of the team, I don't know what is. (Hi Scott Shafer).

The NFL runs numerous ad campaigns all about the plight of the die-hard fan who lives and dies with the results of their favorite team. There are so many beer ad campaigns all about fan beliefs, superstitions and experiences, it's hard to keep track of which ones are for which. For all of them, though, the point is clear. "Yes, fandom is silly, but, it, like, totally matters more than anything, too."

You can't have it both ways. You can't tell us you absolutely need us to be a part of the team experience and then chastise us when we get too emotionally invested in the outcome.

You shouldn't turn into a lunatic, you shouldn't bash the team when they're down and you shouldn't make demands based on the amount of money you spend. But at the same time, sports teams reap what they sow when they demand fandom from us.

I don't know what the right answer is. Personally, use "we" or don't and I really don't care. But let's not pretend that franchises and schools don't help engrain that concept in our brains, consciously or unconsciously.