The Difference Between “We” and “They” in Sports


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

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.