by Ella Malvino

photography courtesy of Pexels

Since I am a sports lover and an LA native, most people were shocked when they found out that I was supporting the New England Patriots in the 2019 Super Bowl. I got numerous comments and unwarranted opinions over my choice to support this team.

 

“I don’t understand, you should be supporting the Rams, you are from LA”, people would comment or write me off for “jumping on the bandwagon.” I did not realize that so many of my hometown friends would be so opinionated and disappointed about my decision. They thought of me as a “traitor” to my city.

 

Most of these comments were intended to be funny and lighthearted, but it did make me think about how loyalty and pride for one’s city are factors that contribute to whom people support in sports. For instance, I have been supporting the Patriots through their last three years in the Super Bowl, but no one ever questioned me about my motives then. So why is there such adversary towards the New England team all of a sudden? And how come in recent years there has been such hatred toward the Patriots? Are we only allowed to support the teams in our hometown? And why are you labeled a member of a bandwagon or a traitor, for simply supporting a different team?

 

These were questions I was determined to answer after my experience as a Patriots supporter this year.

 

Contrary to other sports dynasties such as the Los Angeles Lakers or the San Francisco 49’ers, according to Vox reporter Aja Romano, “the Patriots’ long standing dominance over the NFL has not exactly inspired nationwide support and pride.” When a specific sports team goes to the championships, nationwide support is typically divided in half. However, that is exactly the opposite in the case of the Patriots. This year, there was a particularly strong hatred for the Pats as early as the contentious playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams.

 

The Pats ended up securing a place in the Super Bowl by “benefiting from a missed call [eliminating the Saints from the Super Bowl] that was so intensely controversial, it has since prompted the NFL commissioner to consider changing the league’s rules,” Romano wrote in another article.

 

This call prompted many Saints fans to boycott the Super Bowl in “wake of the Saints’ controversial loss in the NFC Championship Game,” wrote Nik DeCosta-Klipa of Boston.com.

 

In the past three years, there has been an intense hatred for the Patriots that is so deeply ingrained into some fans that they would do anything to not see the Pats go anywhere near the Super Bowl ever again. Whether it is because the Patriots have made appearances in 11 Super Bowls in the past 20 years and have won six titles, or because people dislike quarterback Tom Brady for his affiliation with Donald Trump, many football fans frankly can’t stand them. In addition, the recent discovery of Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s involvement in sex crimes did not paint the Patriots in a positive light.

 

However, while certain members of the team may have certain political beliefs, and while I am not condemning the actions of the owner by any means, it is important to note that these actions do not define the Patriots as a whole. It is necessary to try and “separate the art from the artist,” or in this case certain players and staff members from the larger idea of American pride and community that is created through football. 

 

And then, of course, there is the complete opposite. I come from a family of passionate sports lovers who often let emotions get the best of them when it comes to baseball, football, basketball or really any sport. But never in my life have I seen the pride Bostonians have for the Patriots. For me, being a part of the Patriots enclave allowed me to connect with my new city and truly feel welcome in Boston.

 

The night of the game when everyone walked over to the Boston Commons, there was a sense of pride that was so evident, all you could do it smile and take in the craziness of the moment. Seeing thousands of college students, families and adults celebrating another victory makes it impossible not to jump on the Patriots bandwagon.

 

While I thought it could not get any more exciting than the Boston Commons victory celebration, I was proven wrong yet again when I attended the Patriots Victory Parade that following Tuesday. I went with many of my friends from BU, and although I did skip a lecture to go (sorry mom and dad), I am so glad I went. Standing outside of the Boston Public Library with kids from all across New England, I realized that this celebration was something way more than honoring the Patriots.

 

This celebration was about people coming together on common ground and feeling a type of connection and unity that is hard to find in the polarized climate Americans are living in. No one cared if you were from Boston, what religion you practiced, if you were a liberal or Trump supporter, these people simply wanted to come together to celebrate and support something they love.

 

Something I will never forget on that sunny 60-degree day was how I felt so happy to apart of the Boston community. Since I am a student in the Boston-London program who only arrived to Boston a few weeks before, this Super Bowl gave me a chance to connect with fellow BU students, meet kids from other colleges across Boston and see how everyone can so easily connect to one another. If the way to feel this connection is by jumping on a bandwagon and supporting a different team than one from your hometown, then I will be proud to be labeled a traitor any day. 

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