This is a topic that I've been sitting on for awhile, and I'm not really sure how I want to frame my argument. Essentially the question I'm asking here is, do we, the sports republic, drive our perception of a team by the actions of its respective entities or the actions/mentality of its fanbase. (For the sake of the argument, I'm saying "both" is a cop out.)
It's the entities that make up the team, right?
When you look back on the history of any sport, you can pretty much bet that we look at, very generally, two types of teams: winners and losers. Dominant winners are usually made up of a model head coach, one (if not more) all-stars and a surrounding cast of characters that act as role players, feel-good stories or just general spares. We can appreciate winners for what they are, and we can feel sorry for losers for what they are. All fan-dom loyalties aside, very rarely do you hate a loser for losing, and very rarely do you hate a winner for winning.
The argument I'm making here is that we, in general, perceive that a team is great based on the entities that make it up, and in turn we support the well built franchises and mildly pay attention to those that aren't.
Case in point: The 1980's San Fransisco 49ers.
The 49ers in the 80's were an unstoppable juggernaut in professional football. Eddie DeBartolo calling the shots in the building. Bill Walsh calling the shots on the sidelines. Joe Montana calling the shots on the field. A cast of all-stars and characters, Rice, Lott, Barton, Taylor, Rathman, Craig, etc.
Again, fan-dom loyalties aside, people loved this team and admired the accomplishments because they were so well put together and executed things as best as could be done, winning the title 4 times. From what I remember, people wanted this team to win. People loved seeing this team win.
However...can't we say the same about the 90's Cowboys or this year's Patriots?
Jerry Jones in the building, Jimmy on the sideline, Aikman on the field. Smith, Irvin, Harper, Novacek, Haley, Norton Jr, Woodson, etc.
Bob Kraft in the building, Belichick on the sideline, Brady on the field. Moss, Stallworth, Harrison, Bruschi, Welker, Maroney, etc.
Aren't these Patriots just as well put together as those 49er teams? Weren't the Cowboys of the 90's just as well put together as those 49er teams?
Then why is it that the perception of the Patriots today or the Cowboys of yesterday as a sorry sack of crap and "God! I hope they lose!" type feeling?
Cowboys fans in the 90's and Patriots fans today have THAT thing in common. That over-sense of entitlement. It's that sense of total "douchebaggery" that sets the rest of the sports nation off. It's that constant thought that "we're better than yoU because we're fans of this team" idea that drives everyone else to want to kill.
Think about it. If the term "Mass-hole" never existed, and Simmons actually wrote like he used to, and the stereotypical fan of the Patriots wasn't, well, how they are, would you hate the Patriots or would you actually like them and want to see them win?
Look at it..
A Few Successful But Generally Hated Franchises*
-New York Yankees
-Boston Red Sox
-New England Patriots
-Los Angeles Lakers
-Notre Dame Fighting Irish
-University of Southern California Trojans
-Texas A&M University Aggies
-Duke University Blue Devils
A Few Successful But Generally Liked Franchises*
-San Fransisco 49ers
-San Antonio Spurs
-Green Bay Packers
*I'm heavily-stressing the "generally" here. Try to forget your allegiances. This is probably just my opinion anyway.
Notice the lack of well-liked franchises? Now correlate that to the general fan-base and pick out the most stereotypical fan. See the point?
Looking back and reading this, I'm not really sure I made any kind of a point here that wasn't pretty blatantly obvious. It seems fairly clear that we don't care about the entities or the accomplishments of a sports franchise, but more how the fans are of that particular franchise. The way the fans act is how we perceive that franchise.
Think about that the next time you want to try and rub it in someone else's face that "your team" won and "their team" lost. Not only are you coming off as a total dick, but you're making "your team" that much more hated.