This post is not about football. In the mid 1970’s there was one Patriots fan at Forest Park Junior High in Springfield, Massachusetts, and that was me. There were Steelers fans, and Cowboys fans, and Dolphins fans, and Giants fans, and even one Baltimore Colts fan (my best friend, Mike Surrette), but being a New England Patriots fans in those days was a lonely practice. How many Mondays did I skip school after an embarrassing loss? My (deceased) parents will never know!
But there was something more gratifying about it then than there is now. Apart from growing up and having concerns apart from living vicariously through athletes it just isn’t as satisfying to me to be a fan of the big bad bully who nearly always wins. Being the only guy in Hinkley Hall rooting for the Pats in Super Bowl Roman numeral whatever (Bears 460, Patriots 10) was humiliating, sure, but no one doubted I was a real fan! (Fastest points ever scored in a Super Bowl, Go Pats!)
I’m old enough now to have seen these reversals play out in areas other than sports as well. Boston and New York were every bit as shat upon as Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport are now. I remember when I was stupid for going into school teaching because those who graduated with me were making 4x what I was in the private sector and had better benefits.
A conversation at a dinner party last week (so 70’s I know, but good fun) brought to mind not only the fact that none of the leaders of our cultural institutions live in the city, but that only 25% of our living former mayors reside here. Hey, at least our current mayor does, though I suppose he kinda has to! Mike Mathis from MGM chose Longmeadow for his home. I can’t imagine the head of MassMutual, or Baystate Medical Center, or any of our colleges/universities lives here…unless they have an on-campus mansion as part of their compensation plan(even still, bet they really live in a condo in Wilbraham). It’s fun watching the public service announcements made by these people touting Springfield as a great place to live, work, and play…”for you, I mean. Do I live here? Oh, God no, I just take the paycheck!”
What a great parody video that would make:
“…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah”
-Do you live here?
“What, me? No.”
Call the series “Springfield: What, me? No.”
It is what it is, and I’m not calling for a pogrom against suburbanites or upper valley types, I’m just waiting for that one transformative moment (the tuck rule meets Adam Vinatieri in a blizzard for you Pats fans still reading) after which all of these people will decide to live here. They’ll claim to have been here all along, pulling for the team, but I’ll know, they were Niners fans in the 80’s.