I'm telling you, kids do the darndest things. The headline above would lead to me getting bludgeoned at a Bills Mafia tweet up or being tipped over in a Porta-Potty at a Bills game, but yes, I was a Dallas fan once. ARRRRR!!!! IT BURNS!
But… but… it was only for like 3 months and I was 12! (*whimpering voice*)
Ugh. Just typing those words makes me want to take a bath.
I honestly don't know what the hell possessed me to change my affiliation. I mean, as bad as it is now, I would never change teams. Why the hell then?
I think when you are a kid, winning is what really draws you into rooting for your hometown team. That and probably your parents if they're fans. My Bills fandom started with my sister being a fan, but it kept going as the Bills were going to title games yearly it seemed. Yes, I guess I was a bandwagon fan as a kid. I think we were probably spoiled during this time as Bills fans. I didn't really know what it was like to be a fan of a struggling franchise. Missing the playoffs only twice during the first 12 years of my football life will do that to you. Maybe if I had witnessed the Bills sucking for five years before seeing them get decimated in the Super Bowl…again and again, I wouldn't have had my regrettable 1-night stand.
It was losing and winning that made me buy a Cowboys hat and jersey. Shoot me! Where is the gun?
When Dallas destroyed the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, I had it. I was enraged. The Bills were about to lose their 3rd straight Super Bowl in embarrassing fashion and that was the last straw. In my mind, they were losers. They shit the bed again. Sure, it is insane to admit that now and it seems to be the ultimate #Illhangupandlisten tag at the ripe age of 12 to say you are done with the team, but I was just kind of over it.
I remember when all those turnovers started happening and the score reached 45-17, I was laughing hysterically at the TV. At one point, my cousins and I ran out of the room and yelled out the window that the Bills sucked! It was as if I was going nuts. It was embarrassing. I decided I didn't want to root for them anymore. Spoiled, right? (Editor's note: Yes, totally. -HB, a Pirates fan.)
I remember that in school, kids would always give you crap about which teams you cheered for, especially if you cheered for a team that was either really shitty or considered a bandwagon team. I remember when I got an Atlanta Braves jacket, I was told by kids that I was a bandwagon fan. (Editor's note: Yes. Also, booooooo! -HB, still a Pirates fan) Same went for my friend who got a Pirates jacket. (Editor's note: AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA, oh, how things change. -HB) I also remember people wearing Raiders, Charlotte Hornets, or Starter gear. (WTF was going on in school?) Kids can be pretty judgmental.. It wasn't that I hated the Bills, I think I just wanted to be part of a winner.
I'm telling you all of this because my cousin is a substitute teacher in Buffalo, and from what he's told me, none of the kids he's taught this year like the Bills. From Amherst to Lancaster, no one's wearing the red, white, and blue. In one instance, he asked a class if they were going to watch the Bills play Miami on Thursday night and they all laughed at him as if he was Arnold Schwarzenegger insisting, "IT'S NOT A TUMOR!!" No one seemed to care. They all pretty much told him that the Bills sucked and asked why they would cheer for an inferior team? They all seemed to cheer for teams like Dallas or Pittsburgh.
I was taken aback by this at first, but then I remembered my time as a Dallas fan. It is no different really. Alright, losing Super Bowls is different than losing meaningless December games. However, kids don't want to be associated with losers. Image is fricken everything. A 30-year-old can get away with going to Kmart or wearing a crappy team's shirt. A kid cannot. A 30-year-old can drink himself to impairment in order to enjoy this team. A kid cannot.
Then I really started thinking.
When was the last time I saw a kid at a Bills game or in the crowd? One that wasn't involved in some sort of Fred Jackson/United Way ad? I can't recall. Why? Because kids don't wanna cheer for teams that doesn't give them a reason to cheer. Winning is cool. Losing is not. Loyalty doesn't matter when you are a kid. If it did, my cool best friend from junior high would have been my friend in high school, too. Instead he decided he didn't want to hang out with a dork. Oh, wait, this is about football…
These kids don't have the Bills memories most of us do. Can you imagine being in 7th grade and telling kids you love the Bills even when they are hot garbage? What about if you had a Fitz jersey? You'd get picked on for being associated with a losing team and stuffed in your locker. Of course, it doesn't help that the other team in town has been decent in the last five years. Seeing kids at a Sabres game is definitely the norm. The bottom line is that the Bills are losing a younger generation of fans one generation at a time.
As for my Cowboys fandom? Like most fads you go through as a kid, it was short-lived. I ditched the Cowboys at the start of the 1993 season. Was it because I loved the Bills? Yes. Was it also because I realized they didn't suck again? Of course. Alas, the younger generation hasn't had the chance to come to that latter realization, have they?