Thoughts on Sports: no respect creates tough fans
During game three of the western region quarterfinals between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets, the TNT television broadcast of the game showed a fan being removed from the game for doing something that he shouldn't have. I'm not sure what the infraction was, but he was thrown out.
Upon that act the commentators started talking about Utah having the "loudest building in the NBA" but at the time didn't go on farther than that.
I have been to many games and Utah has some vicious fans. The arena is very loud. One national radio personality a few weeks ago said it was because Mormons are so nice to people all the time that when they get into that arena they can let their hair down and be mean for a change.
But the creation of a tough and ruckus fan base is not so much a function of the local social decorum or the fact that people need a place to be mean in their lives. I believe our reputation for being some of the most repugnant fans in the NBA falls at the feet of the national media, and this is my reasoning for believing this.
As many people know I raise Siberian and Alaskan huskies to be sled dogs. My son and I participate in the sport, myself for recreation, he in both racing and recreation. We learned a long time ago, that even though we have to be the alpha dog in our kennels to keep control, we also need to gain the respect of the dogs, as a group and each individually. If we have a dog that we don't have respect for by treating him poorly and not expecting the best out of him, he will never have respect for us and undoubtedly will never make a good sled dog.
Over the years the national media has lacked respect for Utah teams and fans over and over again. In a sense I believe fans here have developed a complex about how our local teams are perceived by those outside the intermountain west. It began many years ago with our college teams both from BYU and the University of Utah; good teams on the field of play, they seldom got the respect they deserved. When the Utah basketball team made it to the NCAA final four in 1966, it was a big surprise to everyone, but then 32 years later when made it to the championship game, even after years of success on the court, it was once again seemingly a big surprise to everyone.
Another example is BYU's football team of 1984. Playing in what many considered a weak conference they went undefeated up through a bowl game.
They were voted the number one team in the nation for that feat, yet Bryant Gumble had the gall to call them "Beau diddly tech" and many national level "experts" disputed that they should have even been in the top ten that year.
Years before that Utah basketball fans were inflamed when their first major league team ever to locate here won a championship (the Utah Stars of 1971) and the national media just acted as though it meant nothing.
Over the ensuing years, before the ABA collapsed and was absorbed into the NBA (a league the ABA had matched on the court at most levels by then) the league (and the Stars) got no respect.
One year during preseason games against the NBA the ABA teams won all but one game and that same year the Stars beat the world champion Celtics in a game at the Salt Palace. No one noticed.
And then we take the Jazz. By numbers one of the four best point guards in the NBA over it's 60 year history was John Stockton. It's proven by the records he holds, his iron man approach to the game and his loyalty to a team that never got it's due.
During his time in the league the national media tried like hell to ignore him, but it was pretty difficult with what he was doing.
Since he retired, his name is almost never mentioned when they talk about great point guards from years past in the league.
And the final disrespect is that when the Jazz are playing in a playoff series, the attention of the national broadcast media, whether it be ABC, TNT or ESPN, is always on the other team or the other teams star.
If you have been watching the Houston/Utah series you know what I mean. Are you sick of hearing about how great Tracy McGrady is, and that he is always a victim of circumstance?
What about Jerry Sloan; one of the best coaches in the NBA, twice taking his team to the finals and he has never won the coach of the year award; not once, zippo. Talk about a victim of circumstance.
All these years of abuse and disrespect have led to a Utah fandom that is cynical and ready to bite every outside hand that comes onto the playing court at Energy Solutions Arena.
No matter what our teams do, we can't impress outsiders with our play. So I think we have decided to do it with at least our nastiness.
And who the hell can blame us?