Out of state, not out of bounds

Chance-Weeks Williams, Sports Editor

There are a few set backs to being based out-of-state, and I’m not talking about tuition.

When you’re a fan of a team that isn’t local, you get weird looks. The exception is the NBA fans who don’t have a Washington state-based team to root for whatsoever. Thanks, David Stern.

As a loud and proud fan of the Carolina Panthers, the question I get on a near daily basis is “Why?” For me, it started when I transitioned from playing outside to watching sports on TV.

The first memory I have of watching the Panthers was Steve Smith in his rookie debut in week one, returning a kickoff for a touchdown against the Vikings.

I received a huge dose of humility that year because it was the only game they won that season. If I could withstand that brutal season, I could survive anything.

I have had constant clashes with my Saints-loving stepdad from Louisiana; our teams happen to be in the same division and play each other twice a year.

For many other fans of non-local teams I’ve heard different reasons. Most of them are from that region of fandom and have moved away from their home field for other reasons. Perhaps they have a relative who holds that team near and dear to their heart, and they passed on the tradition, or have coerced fandom on their children and pets.

Out-of-state fandom has its perks. It gives me a broader knowledge of the sport in question, instead of being a victim to regional biases. It is a great conversation starter for die hard fans of other teams; we’re able to share past thoughts on when our teams last played. Which usually ends with the expression of hate or endearment towards a certain player or moment.

There was an instance ten years ago in Pennsylvania during school a die-hard Steelers fan made a 17-year-old Broncos fan sit on the floor during a midterm. The teacher also instructed other students to throw crumpled up pieces of paper at the student, leading the student to file a lawsuit.

I personally have never experienced something to that magnitude, however I have been deep behind enemy lines.

About a week ago, both of the non-local teams I support played local teams. On Saturday, the Arizona State football team came to the University of Washington and pulled out a victory in the rainy and windy Seattle.

My friends and I left our assigned seats and we were able to sneak into the Husky student section. It was at this point I knew that it would probably be better for my well being that I hid my Sun Devil gear. I was able to come out of the game unscathed.

The following day, the Seahawks unfortunately defeated the Panthers in a close game. Needless to say my phone blew up with texts from my friends that are Seahawks fans to “congratulate” me on the loss.

Fandom of other teams is becoming more and more accepted instead of being shunned.

When I’m out and about and see a fan of any local team, I get a feeling of belonging. In a cliché type moment I get a feeling of understanding, knowing exactly what the other person is thinking. It’s like love at first sight, without the ooey gooey feeling, especially if it’s a rival team.

I was in the Moda Center when Damian Lillard hit the series-winning shot against the Houston Rockets. It still gives me chills.

I am a fan of one local team, the Mariners. Like the Panthers, I have fond memories of them as a young boy. I would spend my summer days watching the Mariner’s everyday with my family. My brother and I would always try to reenact a Jay Buhner or Ken Griffey Jr. home runs in our back yard.

We fell a few feet short of the actual distance they hit, but the memories we got from watching the M’s won’t be forgotten.

The experience is what drives my fandom, not the record or the amount of championships.