After Super Bowl XLIX ended, Bostonians flooded the streets to celebrate the New England Patriots winning the National Football League’s championship. “Hundreds of young fans ran through downtown streets screaming and cheering, despite temperatures that fell to the teens by 11 p.m., with a wind chill as low as 12 degrees” (BostonGlobe.com). The police were out, on mass, but were not needed, as there were no arrests and the fans were joyous, rather than destructive. And, as fans and the media continued to reflect on quarterback Tom Brady jumping up and down like a kid at Christmas, Red Sox Nation must also have thought why not us?
Sure, it is an overused expression that every fan says, regardless of their team’s historic successes or failures. However, Red Sox fans keep that mentality ingrained in their minds, each season, possibly more so than any other club, with Chicago Cubs fans arguably the exception. Even the term ‘Red Sox Nation’ was around long before the recent Boston dynasties.
In October 1986, Nathan Cobb of the Boston Globe used the phrase to describe the ravenous fans and their dislike of anything dealing with New York, Yankees or not. Cobb reflected on his work in 2005, stating, “the story was about the southwestern Connecticut border war between Sox fans and New York Mets fans during the locally infamous ’86 World Series. It was set largely in Milford, Conn., which may explain why I’d forgotten. Exit 40 off I-95 seems such an unlikely place for the birth of a nation” (Boston.com). And yet, the term spread wide, past anything Cobb initially imagined. In 2004, the club began offering cards, for a fee, to fans and sold merchandise, with the phrase plastered everywhere. “In 2010, Forbes magazine rated Red Sox Nation as the best fans in American sports, citing points such as road attendance and overall devotion to the team,” and yet “in 2011, GQ magazine ranked Red Sox fans the 6th worst in the United States – and 2nd worst in Major League Baseball behind only the Philadelphia Phillies” (Wikipedia.com).
Only in Boston can one group of fans have such conflicting, paradoxical statements made about them. What seems like obnoxious optimism for their team’s chances and horrendous manners to any non-Bostonian idea, to many outsiders, is the heart-warming display of care and affection, that any family member would give a loved one, to Red Sox fans.
The city breeds unity in its culture. The people unified, when many other colonies refused, to start the American Revolution. Normally, it would be dangerous to use such a serious subject to parallel a group of sports fanatics, obsessively devoting their time to a game that arguably means little to the majority of the world. But this isn’t normal, or rational, or logical. This is love; this is Boston.
David Ortiz tweeted his sentiments about the Patriots’ win by saying:
The Red Sox’ biggest star and face of the franchise recognizes that the support of Boston is more than just sports, championships, and merchandise. The party is about whom these teams represent. You can be from the Dominican Republic, Connecticut, Boston, or China. If you love the teams who call Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, or the TD Garden home, then there is a unifying force that cheers, even just a little bit, for the others, because they represent an idea: that free men and women are proud of their culture and they want to prove that every chance they can get.
With all of the big signings and trades made in this off-season, who would fault Red Sox Nation for wanting, or even expecting, a similar celebration in November, braving any cold weather or potential riots? They love their teams and want to keep the celebration of their ‘national’ pride going. Don’t we all want that for our loved ones and the pride we have in ourselves?
** For more information on the Patriots’ fans celebrating, check out: