The Liberation of Being a Fair-Weather Fan

My 4-year-oldson was climbing into our station wagon when he hit me with two words that rattled me to my core: “Dodgers rule!” Next came the death blow: “Giants drool!” We had only just moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco, but somehow my kid’s allegiance to my favorite baseball team had already faltered. When I shared my dismay with a friend (a die-hard Giants fan), I expected sympathy. Instead, he expressed envy. Neither of his kids shared his love for America’s pastime. “At least you have a fan of baseball,” he said. “Be grateful for that.”

And yet, I fixated on how my son’s team was not my team. Even worse, our teams are bitter enemies. So when we attended games, the kiddo would cheer for his squad while I’d awkwardly grimace and not-so-quietly root for mine.

I had always felt that it’s sacrilegious to be a “fair-weather fan,” someone who only supports a team when it’s winning. True fans are die-hards — they experience, in equal measure, the grief of losing and the euphoria of winning. I believed that committing to a team would be forever, which meant you would remain pitted against the same foes for a lifetime. (Opposition is the yin to fandom’s yang.) But I never expected that my own flesh and blood would become a fair-weather fan — or my rival.

After seven years of a sports schism in our family, though, I started to wonder what I was holding onto. Could I somehow become a fan of both teams? If not, what would betraying my beloved Giants say about me? With whose opinion was I concerned?

I was born in Los Angeles and grew up a Dodgers fan, which made this turn of events all the more confusing. Back in 1988, my bedroom was covered with newspaper clippings of the Dodgers and the Lakers. My favorite baseball and basketball teams each won championships in the same year, and that success supersized my fandom. I always preferred basketball, because baseball seemed slow and boring. This made it easier to ditch the Dodgers when I left Los Angeles at age 25, seven years before my son was born.

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