“They played terrible!”
You might think that you just read two quotes from different people, but the irony is that sports fans often describe their own team in both of these ways, and sometimes even in the same sentence. Yes, when things are going well it’s almost always “we,” but when the team performs poorly it’s usually “they.” Have you done this before? Sport psychology studies often find this pronoun name changing to be quite common, making it one of the more funny (and revealing) ways of examining sport fan behavior.
This past weekend served as a great example of the “we – they” debate after watching college conference championship games. When your team won you probably took ownership and boasted about how well “we” did. Conversely, if your favorite team took it on the chin, it’s likely you talked about the game in terms of how badly “they” played.
As sports fans we often give a lot of our energy and emotion toward supporting “our” teams, making it not all that surprising that we often line up close when they win, and distance ourselves when they lose. For example, a lot of Michigan State and Auburn fans are talking about “we” today, while Ohio State and Missouri fans are discussing how “they” could have played better and won.
Bowl season in college football is just around the corner, so be sure to try and stay with the “we” when describing your team — win, lose, or draw. Anything short of that would make you a fair-weather fan, and you wouldn’t want to be one of those, right?!