Most sports fans follow traditional, logical patterns when picking their favorite teams. They choose the local teams, or their parents’ favorite teams, or, many times, the best teams. Not me. Across all the different professional and college sports, my favorite teams share no similarities or ties, which makes rooting for each one a unique experience. These are the teams I routinely root for, the ones that instill feelings of joy in me when they win and anguish when they lose.
Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
This might be the most fun one for me since I live in an area populated by Redskins, Giants, and Eagles fans. I started following the team after the 2007 season, when I bought a Tony Romo jersey from the local sporting goods store simply because the side stripe looked cool. One of my favorite parts of being a Cowboys fan is that they’re a global brand, meaning that they’re always in the headlines in the major sports outlets and everyone has an opinion on them. On the sadder side, getting past the divisional round has proved a tough task for Dallas, as the team has had limited playoff success since I’ve followed them and lose in the most heartbreaking ways.
Baltimore Ravens (NFL)
My other favorite football team, the Ravens have provided some of my happiest moments as a sports fan. After choosing the Romo jersey and the Cowboys, I wanted to join the Cowboys kids club but the obvious distance barrier was a problem. So I narrowed it down to two teams within driving distance- the Steelers and Ravens. Thankfully, I chose the Ravens and have been rewarded. I met Ray Lewis and Ed Reed at a training camp, watched a movie on the turf of M&T Bank Stadium, and enjoyed many long playoff runs. Best of all, the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2013 in a thrilling 34-31 victory. Recently, I’ve veered more towards Cowboys games because the often erratic Joe Flacco has made watching the Ravens’ offense a painful task, but I still pull for them throughout the season.
Orlando Magic (NBA)
Honestly, this is the one that I second guess. The first basketball game I ever watched was Paul Pierce and the Celtics’ victory over the Lakers in the 2007 NBA Finals, which made me a Celtics fan. But the following year, when Boston was upset by the Orlando Magic, I jumped onto the Magic bandwagon. The high-flying Dwight Howard, the pristine uniforms, and tourist attraction location appealed to me and I felt genuine anguish when they lost later that year to the Los Angeles Lakers. It has been all downhill from there, as the Magic have suffered through six years with no playoffs and have fallen into obscurity (this season they’ve lost 19 of their last 22 games). If I paid more attention to the NBA, I’d probably choose a different team, but I’ll stick to Orlando.
Boston Red Sox/Oakland Athletics/Chicago Cubs (MLB)
No, I’m not a bandwagon baseball fan, I promise. My favorite baseball team has always been the one with ace pitcher Jon Lester, my dad’s second cousin, and that rooting interest has resulted in a lot of happy summers and blissful Octobers. Lester is consistently one of the best pitchers in the majors and his teams are playoff regulars, including World Series victories in 2007 (Red Sox), 2013 (Red Sox), and 2016 (Cubs). Similarly to Dallas, the Red Sox and Cubs are global brands that always attract a lot of attention. Also, it was immense fun watching the Chicago Cubs’ World Series drought ending from a fan’s perspective. Lester currently plays for the Cubs, and until he retires and I’m back into MLB fan free agency, I’ll be all in for the North Side. It is fun, and ridiculous, to remember back to the half-season Lester was in Oakland and I was an Athletics fan.
North Carolina Tar Heels (NCAA)
Penn State Nittany Lions (NCAA)
Stanford Cardinal (NCAA)
Before I start, I should confess that I’m not as invested into collegiate sports as I am to the professional leagues. So it should be understandable that I’ve chosen my teams weighing success as a major factor. I rooted for the Cardinal back in the Andrew Luck years, and though their football team hasn’t made a College Football Playoff, they’ve been relevant enough for me to care about them. My grandparents live in Penn State so I always heard a lot about the Nittany Lions, but it was their recent success that has attracted me to the Happy Valley. And for North Carolina, I went to a sports journalism camp on the Chapel Hill campus for a week and really like their baby blue basketball uniforms. It won’t be until my college decision that I truly choose a favorite team, so until then, its this stellar trio.