Bigamy and Loyalty in Sports

Tad Salyards and his son Marek at Wrigley Field.

Tad Salyards and his son Marek at Wrigley Field.

The dictionary definition of bigamy is the act of marrying someone when already married to another person. Marital bigamy is a crime in the United States. I’m glad this doesn’t apply to sports because I’ve been a “Sports Bigamist” for nearly ten years. Sports bigamy is when a person is loyal to more than one team in the same sport; for example being a Dodger fan and a Royals fan at the same time.

Most fans give all of their loyalty to one team in each sport, living and dying on the performance of the Vikings, Blackhawks, Celtics, or Manchester United. These fans usually support the team geographically nearest to their residence. I think this is unfortunate. For example, I’ve often asked Vikings fans to give me one good reason to support the “Queens” other than the fact that they’re in Minnesota. I seldom get a good answer; probably because there are none. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t dislike the Vikings…I just think they’ve been badly owned, badly managed, and badly coached since the days of Bud Grant.

My take is that blind loyalty to any team is unfortunate. For those of you who are disenchanted with your home town team I’m going to recommend sports bigamy. It’s a lot of fun to root for two or three teams at the same time without guilt or shame. I’m a Twins – Cubs baseball bigamist and a Packers – Bears football bigamist. One of the advantages of sports bigamy is that most days at least one of your teams will win! The only disadvantage is the emotionally conflicting times when your favorite teams play each other.

As an admitted sports bigamist I reserve the right to prefer one of my favorite teams over the others. I have a slight preference for the Cubs over the Twins and for the Packers over the Bears. If the Twins and the Cubs were in the World Series (imagine the infinitesimal odds of this happening) I would root for the Cubs. Likewise I would support the Packers over the Bears in a super bowl game. However, if the Twins are playing any team except the Cubs, or the Bears are playing any team except the Packers, I’ll root for the Twins and the Bears.

While there are no official statistics I’m pretty sure that sports bigamy is on the rise especially with the popularity of fantasy leagues. Fantasy games demand that participants to look beyond their favorite team’s roster and appreciate the talents of other players in the league. This broadens fan knowledge of athletes and their teams which should, other things being equal, increase the number of sports bigamists.

Then there’s the matter of team loyalty, of which I have very little. I’m the ultimate television sports narcissist (loving pleasure and hating pain) but my time always takes precedent over sports. If my team is winning I’ll be watching television intently. If my team starts to get “blown out,” I’ll shut off that darned box and do something else. In my way of thinking professional sports teams are in the entertainment business and they have only one job; to please me by winning! If they’re not winning I’m no masochist; I’ll walk out during the broadcast and do something useful.

No matter our loyalty or bigamy preferences, one thing all fans can agree on is that sporting events are the ultimate reality show! No one knows the outcome and upsets are common. As someone once said, “That’s why they play the games.” I’ll be watching some football this weekend; you can bet on it.

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