It’s game 7 of the 1991 NLCS championship, Atlanta Braves versus Pittsburgh Pirates. My father, a born-and-raised Atlantan and subsequent die-hard Braves fan is sporting a full Native American headdress (what we now know as cultural appropriation). He is seated in a clump of fellow Braves fans. They are surrounded on all sides though by one of the scariest human populations: Pittsburgh fans. They throw hands any time a Braves player so much as gets on first base. It gets to the point where all Pirates fans are cut off at the bar, which only escalates the situation. They add in spitting to their fight technique. One Pirates fan perfectly lands a loogy into my dad’s fresh cup of Bud Light. My dad, after being provoked for over five innings, finally turns around and tells the Pirates fan to “kindly fuck off.” The fan responds, “Bet your wife is a whore.” My dad, rightfully so, hits the jabroni square in the nose, thus causing a full riot.
And that is Northeastern versus Southeastern fan culture boiled down to one story.
People from the Southeast and the Northeast are hands down the most passionate fans. They just show their passion in different ways. This is all reflective of their overall cultures: passive aggression versus aggressive aggression. Just look at how differently the two tailgate—Southeasterners use folding tables for beer pong while Northeasterners use them for body slamming. Whereas northerners will take out their anger by screaming obscenities and reenacting WWE routines, southerners will smile at you in a way that is somehow more painful than any insult or blow to the face. As a southerner though, I sometimes wish my mom would just punch me in the face or call me a “whore” when she’s mad at me rather than blessing my heart.
A study shows that murder rates increase during the summer, especially in the South. Most people infer that people wanting to kill others has to do with them just being too hot and cranky. But, I think people in the South kill more people during the summer because there’s no football on. During the other three seasons, Southerners tend to be pretty pleasant, non-murderous people. They get to enjoy life outdoors and sunlight in general for a majority of the year.
Northerners, on the other hand, have to endure around eight months of freeze-your-balls-off weather. What are you supposed to do for those eight months? Toss the pig skin around outside? Play some tennis while ice falls from the sky? Hit the golf course wearing four layers of thermal inner and outerwear? No. You stay inside like an agoraphobic hermit and simmer in anger.
Is there really a more angry sport than hockey? This is a sport where players don’t get their knocked out teeth replaced because having five out of however many front teeth humans are supposed to have is a sign of accomplishment. I think that their natural desire to throw hands (Footnote: paragraph one, sentence four) probably comes from the fact that most players are going from freezing cold weather outside to freezing cold weather inside. Northeast sports, for the most part, revolve around indoor sports such as hockey and basketball (if there are Miami Heat or L.A. Lakers fans reading this, please resist the urge to troll me). These indoor arenas are where Northeasterners can let out their pent-up anger in the form of thrown beers and fist fights that break out over fist fights, and I think that’s beautiful.
As an Atlanta native though, I honestly care about hockey and basketball (sorry Trae Young) about as much as I care about competitive underwater basket weaving. I just want to watch some fun man-on-man action where 300 pound guys are considered to be in peak athletic condition. If you think about it, O-linemen basically coined the dad bod as sexy before the dad bod was even considered sexy. I digress though. Sports for us entail hitting, throwing, and/or putting balls while we bask in sunlight and enjoy grass, dirt, and lukewarm piss in a can. I think that too is beautiful.
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate sports—they are meant to both unite and divide people. Sometimes division can lead to unity, which is a bizarre occurrence that I truly believe only sports can bring about. Don’t let coasts, states, or cities blind you from the fact that even people who aren’t within your bubble of a team are simultaneously within the amazing bubble of die-hard fandom…But still, go Dawgs, screw Bama, dirty birds rise up, Tom Brady sucks, and so do you.