Even the most flippant sports fan is aware of the hypothetical question.
Because we can’t settle every battle on the field. Nor does every debate have an answer we’re able to quantify. We can’t transport Barry Sanders in his prime to 2000 to face the Ravens D. We can’t ask Mike McCarthy or Bill Belichick to abandon the run game in favor of a 100 percent passing offense for four weeks, “just to see what happens.” And no matter how hard they try, it’s probably safe to assume neither Chris Johnson nor Denard Robinson will ever get that foot race with Usain Bolt.
A simple question from a lightning bulb of curiosity, asked aloud in the time it takes to bring your favorite gameday snack from plate to mouth, can inspire hours of back and forth. Despite knowing we’ll never see LeBron James line up at tight end for an NFL franchise, we spend weeks postulating about what it would look like.
Some questions end in genuine enlightenment, others in laughs—still others in screaming matches. After all, having an opinion is part of being a fan. Telling your best friend that no matter what he says, you’d prefer your favorite team go 0-16 and rebuild with the No. 1 pick than play .500 ball and miss the playoffs—that’s your right. A right you’ve earned by logging hours dressed in your team’s colors and learning the roster top to bottom, practice-squad included.
I’ve had my share of intellectual sporting debates. And if you’re reading this, you undoubtedly have, too. But of all the questions, one always sticks out for me:
If you could choose a favorite team from any sport to win a championship, which would you pick?
Like most fans, I have a favorite team in all the major sports. The specific teams don’t matter (though in my case we’re talking the Washington Redskins, along with the rest of the franchises based in the nation’s capital) as much as the answer, which has always been the same.
My football team (for me—the Washington Redskins).
The reason is simple: community.
No sport brings Americans together like lord football. The names on the back of the jersey change, but the colors on the helmets don’t. Be it a contender or a stinker, you walk into work or school every Monday from September to January wearing a mood reflective of your team’s result. And, if you root (root, root) for the home team, those around you do the same.
The only way to quell the deep-seeded agony of watching your quarterback throw four picks or your kicker botch an easy field goal on a Sunday afternoon? Knowing your boys saw it, too, and commiserating at the lunch table. Knowing your pops was watching, and threw his hands up in the air just like you did.
Sure, the football team I root for on Sundays has thrice tasted Super Bowl glory, but not since I was in Pampers. It’s hard to explain the fluttering in my heart that starts even when just fantasizing about my favorite team winning the Super Bowl.
I don’t doubt for a second that if the day ever comes when my favorite team clinches a Super Bowl victory in my adult life, I will break down in tears. Heavy-hearted, shirt-soaking sobs of joy. A cry forged for years as I—and my fellow fans—committed Sunday after Sunday to a single, seemingly futile, interminable cause. A cause that each season can only reward one such group of fanatics the satisfaction we all deserve.
I wasn’t born into a Friday Night Lights-like culture. I didn’t even play football growing up. And that’s just it: there are no prerequisites for football fans. Community trumps all. Live and die with your team’s results on Sundays and gain entry into a brotherhood unlike any other. Wear the right colors in the right town and you’re part of the family. It’s why Redskins fans mourned the passing of Sean Taylor as if he were a brother.
Because while football is barbaric, not pretty—“the beautiful game” played primarily across the pond and from which it stole its name has aesthetic where the gridiron has ass whoopings—there’s no denying the effect on those of us that pour our hearts and souls into it.
That’s why we built TDdaily. To provide a place for you, the fan, to follow your team on the way to glory (or not), hear the stories of your team’s players from their perspective, and argue every last hypothetical debate along the way.
Abe Schwadron is the Online Editor of TDdaily.com. Follow him on Twitter @abe_squad.