An Open Letter to New Englanders Who Use ‘We’ When Referring to Sports Teams
Dear sports fans of New England,
Though I may leave in tatters, I come in peace.
I grew up in New England, and have the utmost respect for the Patriots and Bruins. And I think the Red Sox would be the perfect purchase for an ambitious billionaire.
I am a Celtics diehard; I didn’t miss a game in 1996-97, when they won just 15 games.
But did you notice the pronoun I used there? They. Pronouns are hotly debated these days, but when it comes to sports, it’s quite simple: there is no “we” in team.
Maybe your softball team. Maybe your adult kickball team. But when it comes to New England’s Big Six (don't forget the Revolution or the Connecticut Sun), there is no we. For you are not on the team.
“We need this…” “We should trade for that…” No, no, no. It is they.
I again became fixated on this faux pas listening to, ironically, a Yankee fan. After congratulating him on a major signing, he said, “Yeah, but we’re paying him so much.”
Whoa, who is this we? When did you start financing the New York Yankees? Do you also go to Fast and Furious movies and say, “Think of what these crashes will do to our insurance premiums!”
The low point was when I noticed fans of my favorite team, the Celtics, using “we” when discussing the team’s recent coaching struggles. As in, “We need a new coach.”
I direct you to an exchange I had on social media involving two other fans. To their credit, they did not use "we." However…they didn’t exactly consider the true they either.
Said the first:
“This team has lost all discipline and they miss Ime Udoka badly.”
“Udoka held them accountable. I feel like guys were scared of him.”
That’s when a third – yours truly – interjected:
“Well, the problem is, women were also afraid of him.”
Perhaps these fine gentlemen had forgotten that Ime Udoka was fired by the Celtics after credible – and never-denied – charges of workplace harassment brought by women who work for the organization.
Perhaps in the heated moments after a frustrating loss, they didn’t realize what they were saying – that it would be worth making women who work for the Celtics uncomfortable just so they have something fun to watch on TV.
Alas, one of these proud lads responded:
“Jon, I know it’s St. Patty’s Day weekend but let’s pump the brakes and stick to basketball.”
Got it, but one more thing: YOU DON’T PLAY BASKETBALL.
YOU ARE NOT ON THE TEAM. YOU DON’T WORK FOR THE TEAM. But the people who came forward, and would have to work with Ime once more, do.
What kind of loser are you to bring a creep back to run the team just so your TV show is more fun?
Because that’s what it is to us: a show. It’s impossible to “stick to basketball,” because for you and me – fans – it is simply a show. A wonderful show. A show with incredible performers. But still, just a show. And if the Celtics win the championship, it is not because of anything we did. I’m sure they appreciate your support. But that’s all we did – supported. Watched. Yelled if we were there (much of which they block out).
And what happens whenever one of New England’s team loses?
In the ironic words of Vince McMahon: "Pronouns, pal." How quickly “we” turns to “they.” They blew it. They choked.
Ever notice that? I did. When I was just a kid.
Just as your kids will notice when you pine for the return of guys like Ime Udoka despite all the people who actually know what they’re talking about have to say about him: