One of my favorite things about British soccer is the dynamic between the six/seven “Haves” and the rest of the professional teams. The sport is so open, free-market, that only a handful of teams compete for season-long trophies and the best players. Everyone else is tasked with picking through what’s left over and forming an identity outside of winning.
Millwall F.C. is one of these “rest of” teams. For years, they were the face of British Hooliganism, mostly because of the poor part of London they hailed from and the lack of celebrity posh that other London teams, even the small ones, could boast. They embraced the media generalization, singing No One Likes Us, We Don’t Care all the way to the FA Cup Final in 2004. As soccer and MLS took off in Philadelphia, the Sons of Ben appropriated and Americanized the song as only Philly could. Jason Kelce has helped this song become an anthem for the entire city.
And now we have Syracuse, a decent-sized private university in a small city (by national standards) in the extended Rust Belt; a helluva juxtaposition by modern perceptions of both.
By now, we’ve covered pretty extensively just how... upset ‘Cuse’s inclusion has made members of the vaunted “National Media.” We had to apologize when we made a Final Four run. And here’s the crazy part: We. Eat. This. Up. The clicks here, the tweets and the fact that Joe Lunardi is seeing Orange in his sleep only back up the notion that ‘Cuse fans are embracing the hate with open arms.
Earlier this week, Sean wrote about how much of a troll Syracuse Basketball has become to the national media, and it’s so true: Syracuse is now a dirty word for those who cover college basketball.
Personally, I think a fundamental aspect to the media’s constant ire is that “the Syracuse Basketball Program” doesn’t fit into a neat little #narrative. They are nowhere near Duke levels of universal hatred, even if we try to make them a rival. They are not some plucky small school in a sea of big boys like Villanova. They don’t have the prestigious (not-so-recent) history of Indiana or UCLA where you’re forced to respect the rafters, but they are way too mainstream be thought of a plucky upstart like Gonzaga or Xavier.
And truth be told, we like that. A lot. Mark Titus’ piece on Jim Boeheim was as much a piece on Syracuse, as the two are symbiotic. The fans, alumni, students and staff who follow this team don’t want to be like anyone else mentioned above. We want to be our own thing on our own terms. And no one outside of this family gets to tell us that we’re doing it wrong or should be doing it a different way.
We’re more than happy to fill our massive concrete Dome in the middle of a blizzard, get loud in person and online, and make sure that the world hears us. Come after one of our own? That’s not okay, even if we were just up in the DMs about Syracuse being a 3 instead of 4 seed. We’ve moved past being surprised when the media finds an end-around way to blame ‘Cuse and have moved into full acceptance.
So let’s also move past pretending like we care if anyone outside of the Syracuse fandom sees what we see in the team, year in and year out anymore.
This year’s team is the tipping point. No one likes us. And that’s okay, because we don’t care.