Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yes, we love pro sports in the Triangle - just different teams

My new preacher just moved to the area. When I told him I was sorry I hadn't met him yet because I'd been at Redskins games the last two Sundays, he said, "Oh really? There aren't many pro fans around here are there?" That's understandable. After all, the Triangle area is a well-known hotbed for college sports. But also, there is little enthusiasm for the Panthers in our area - and it's not only just because Charlotte's team is struggling.

There are so many historic-minded Redskins fans still here plus fans are diluted because so many have moved here from other areas and have remained loyal to their teams. Pro fans are actually pretty rabid here - just not for the Panthers. Even when the Panthers were in the Super Bowl, the fan support was wide but not very deep. It was really just an excuse to party. I remember Panther fans leaving the bars laughing and having a good time. An area Redskins fan or Steelers fan or Packers fan or Cowboys fan or even a Bills fan (they have a big fan club here) would be down or ticked or otherwise unhappy.

I'm not saying that there aren't die-hard Panthers fans but most were fans of other teams before becoming a Panthers fan. So, if the Panthers lose or aren't doing well on the season, they have another team to follow. Plus, there is still that Raleigh vs. Charlotte thing.

The Carolina Hurricanes mesmerized the Triangle area in 2006 when they went on that miraculous Stanley Cup run. People in Charlotte seemed to care very little and only followed it in passing. It was nearly all-encompassing in the Triangle area yet hardly a blip on the radar in Charlotte.

People in our area take buses to Atlanta to see the Braves or Boston to see the Red Sox or New York to see the Yankees or even Baltimore to see the Orioles. When is the last time you heard of a busload of fans traveling from Charlotte to Raleigh to watch the Hurricanes or fans traveling from Raleigh to Charlotte to watch the Bobcats? I do remember a bus trip of fans traveling to Charlotte to watch the Panthers but a number of the fans going were rooting for the other team.

A friend of mine who went to a Steelers at Panthers game once said that by the fourth quarter, there were more Steelers fans there than Panthers fans. I saw the same thing at a Redskins at Panthers preseason game once.

There are a lot of strong fan clubs in the area who are very active. In fact, I'm a member of one of them - Triangle Red Sox Nation, which raised more money for the Jimmy Fund charity this year than any club outside of the Boston area. Because we aren't all solidified behind one team, it might appear to an newcomer that the Triangle area doesn't care about professional sports. But that's just not true.

No comments:

Post a Comment