Dec 2, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs fans hold a sign before the game with the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 27-21. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Difference Between "We" and "They" in Sports

There are few things that make me more upset than one fan trying to dictate to other fans about how to be a fan. I not only respect opinions, but in fact, welcome them. Just like what Andy Reid and every other coach in the NFL preaches: competition makes everyone better. Same goes for opinions. Without them, we are left with an overwhelming group-think where there are no contradictions and no growth. Fans come from all walks of life, and we should respect their ways of being a fan. But when a vocal minority tries to set rules on how to be a fan, that’s when I get frustrated.

The use of “we” and “they” always pops up in a sports fan’s head at some point in their life. At some point, every fan begins to acknowledge the fact that they are not a player on their favorite team. That the closest they can get to the field is a first row seat in the stands. And at that point in their life, that person must decide if the sports team is still “we,” or if it is “they.”

We at Arrowhead Addict are reminded time and time again to refer to the Kansas City Chiefs as “they.” This is an act of professional writing, and something that every student who’s ever taken a journalism class at the most basic level knows. When writing an article, we are encouraged to write it as if we are taking a step back; to express ourselves without bias and from not just a fan’s view, but from a logical view. While my articles on this site have always expressed opinions about the Chiefs and other things, I always try to back those opinions with fact, statistics, or other precedents. By giving you the facts, my goal is for you to form your own opinion. That is why, with Arrowhead Addict, the Chiefs are “they.”

But on Sundays, to me, the Chiefs are “we.”

This little rant of mine was caused this weekend by twitter and one particular Kansas City fan – which will remain nameless. The tweet was in regard to baseball, but it still remains pertinent for all sports. “People who say “We” when referring to their favorite baseball teams. That grinds my gears.” While this might not seem like a big deal, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such a thing from a fan. These are people – whether on twitter, on the radio, or in person – that I refer to as elitists.

You can refer to a team as “they” and not be elitists. In fact, you’re being more realistic. But most fans aren’t that realistic. And for us Chiefs fans, realism would be a dangerous and depressing trait. I don’t get upset at fans that would rather take a step back and not lump their self-worth into the likes of their favorite teams. And it makes sense for fans of losing teams to not want to go down that journey. But as soon as you start criticizing those that jumped off the fandom bridge a long time ago, those that were wearing their favorite team’s onesies when they were fresh out of the womb, those that have and always will refer to their favorite team as “we,” then I have a problem.

Those are the kind of fans that think a free agent signee on a one year deal has more right to call himself “we” then a fan that has been loyal yet left wanting for his/her entire life. I disagree with that sentiment.

That’s just my opinion. Maybe those elitists are right, however. Maybe being too invested in a team where it becomes part of your identity isn’t a good thing. After all, what have the Chiefs ever personally done for you? Broken your heart? Made you angry? Caused an early death? But to me, being a fan is like life. The hard times make you stronger, the bad times make you more appreciative of the good times, and the good times put you on top of the world. And while us Chiefs fans have known mostly bad times, the good times are sure to come. And even if they don’t, I’ll still be there cheering them on. So if the elitist are right, then I’m fine being wrong.

To me, “we” are Kansas City Chiefs. And our fandom lasts longer than any contract ever could.

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  • Stacy D. Smith

    The only thing that chaps my ass about sports fans today are how quickly they get on and off bandwagons. I HATE when people claim to be fans of teams they have no real connection to. All of these Johnny Come Lately Heat fans irk my soul. BUUUUUUT, I’m a die hard so that informs my opinion.

    • Bosco Cletus

      I always laughed at all the Rams jerseys around Missouri after they won the big one, haven’t seen many in the last 5 or 6 years though.

      • jim

        LOL, I agree, the same goes with the 49′s & Raiders back in their hay day & most of them can’t find SF on a map on a bet, GEAUX CHIEFS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • jim

      Me too, GEAUX CHIEFS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Joe Myers

    I stoped reading right when you asked the first question at the end of the paragraph . A : we !!

  • Jason

    Without fan’s Sports wouldn’t exist. Period. So well said Nathan, a fans obsession is what drives athletes to be athletes. If no one liked watching Tamba Sack the QB, or Jamaal Charles breaking off for a 91 yard TD, no one would play the game.

  • big chief

    The only time it irritates me is when some jackass says “we kicked your ass, you guys suck.” Really dipshit? Did you? Because you work at McDonalds and I’m a bail bondsman. I didn’t get my ass kicked and I’m pretty sure you didn’t suit up.

    • kcpauly

      ……Go Chiefs!!!!

      • big chief

        I think you missed the point. I was saying that if you’re doing it showing pride and supporting your team it’s fine but if you’re using it as a way to make your own sorry ass feel worth something then it’s just annoying. Thanks for the assumptions and name calling. That feels good coming from a fellow Chiefs fan.

        • kcpauly

          Sorry for the name calling Big Chief, that was out of line I apologize, however I use the statement “We kicked your ass’s” when the Chiefs beat one of my buddies teams, I don’t mean to make my sorry ass feel worth something so much as assume(here I go again,right?)that whomever I am saying it to also refers to themselve as a “we” too. Not that the Chiefs have beat any of my buddies teams in recent memory, and therefor my sorry ass feels like nothing….again sorry for the name calling….
          Go Chiefs!!!!!!

          • big chief

            Well that’s different. You said buddies. If you can’t give your buddies hell then they aren’t buddies. I’m talking about wearing your Chiefs shirt proudly on monday after a tough loss and some asshat you’ve never seen before starts telling you your team blows in the hardware store. All is fair between friends. And you’re forgiven. I was just giving you crap about that. I’m hard to offend. Like I said I’m a bail bondsman so my skin is pretty thick.

          • kcpauly

            Well if I don’t know someone and their talking shit that is different, then the douche nuggets have no right, I don’t go around telling strangers “we kicked your ass’s” as I wouldn’t even know if they were a “we” I would usually say something like good game or so on, I have Faider and Donkey “friends” so that sucks, but I do have a Vikes friend that I can still hold 1970 over at least I still got that, however I would like to see “us” get to the SB in my lifetime(born 73) and thanx for the forgive thick skin or not I was out of line and I shall repent LOL….Go Chiefs!!!!!

          • big chief

            Oh man I don’t know if I could tolerate someone stupid enough to be a Denver or Oakland fan enough to be friends. I’m also a lifelong Sooner fan so I have a for AP but I too still use our lone super bowl bragging point as leverage when necesarry. I was born in ’78 so I haven’t seen it either. Maybe the big red walrus can pull it together for us.

          • kcpauly

            Put some BBQ sauce on the Lombardi trophy and you can bet your ass Reid will be taking it home:~))
            Go Chiefs!!!!!

          • big chief

            You have to find the right buddies. Lol, I have a Saints fan and a Packers fan for friends so I at least had a good moment each of the last couple years. You have to hang around fans from as many teams as possible to better your odds.

  • Guest

    The most basic journalism classes probably teach the difference between then and than too. Sorry, had to tease you a bit. Good read though.

  • Justin R Groth

    I use both we is for when I am talking about the team in general with a fellow fan/addicts. I feel the money I put into gear, keeping cable just to watch KC play, the gas tickets, parking. Not to mention the emotional ups and downs, the time spent every Sunday (occasional Monday, Thursday, and whenever a preseason game falls) watching cheering screaming, not crying, because I’m a guy and something just happened to get in my eye when Dante Hall and Dick Vermeil hugged before the coach retired. I feel I have invested in the team and earned the right to refer to my team as we. However referring to specific players or player groups it is always the (offense defense, line, rb, you get it)

    • kcpauly

      I get stuff in my eye sometimes too…there’s been a lot of stuff in my eye the last few years LOL :~))
      Go Chiefs!!!!!

    • Bosco Cletus

      I get stuff in my eye when I watch the Complete History of the Chiefs and at DT’s service Carl says at the end “Derrick Thomas will ALWAYS be a Kansas City Chief.” Gets me every time.

      • Jim Harper

        Lately NFL network has been running the story of Joe Delaney which breaks my heart all over again.

    • Da Menace

      Word up! And in the next few years WE are gonna win the Super Bowl

  • Lyle Graversen

    I’ve been writing for AA for a couple years now and I still catch myself writing “we” sometimes. I agree with your take 100%. Logically and professionally I know I’m not part of the team. That having been said, if you’ve ever been part of the crowd that caused Phillip Rivers to throw a tantrum after a false start penalty or burn a time out because they can’t hear the play call it’s easy to feel part of a “we”.

    • Chuck Burrell

      Great example

    • KCMikeG

      How are we not part of the team? WE are the 12th man aren’t WE?

  • calciomoti

    Wtf does “they” even mean? It’s “we” always has been, always will be….This is the land of the free and the home of the Chiefs.

  • chiefin’ainteasy

    Without US there are no Chiefs…So its definitely WE!

  • ladner morse

    Without “we”… there is no… weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Nice piece Nathan!

  • Altarium

    You ask what the Chiefs have done personally for us? I can’t speak for anyone else… BUT for me, I deal with depression on a regular basis. Even more so after an event about a couple years ago in which I lost 90% of the people I care about (and actually know) in the span of about 2 minutes. Chiefs football? It helped. It gave me something to latch onto, something to cheer for again, something to distract me from other, more painful things (reddit and alcohol helped too). So THAT’S what the Chiefs have done for me personally. They might not know it, but that doesn’t make me any less grateful, and it doesn’t keep me from considering myself a part of the “we” of the Chiefs.