In A Saga With No Good Guys, Why Do Some Fans Root So Hard?

One of the interesting phenomenons to come out of the NBA lockout has been the vehemence with which many fans have "taken sides".  You can't read a fan discussion without people proudly announcing that they are "pro-owner" or "on the players' side".  We've seen both fans and NBA writers resort to some fairly ugly language in arguing why their "side" is in "right" and the other side is "wrong".  All of this has come despite the fact that there is no objective evidence that either the players or owners care about the fans in this dispute at all.

So, why do fans choose sides?  A lot of it is that for many of us, the reason we love sports is because we love competition.  The lockout, at its core, is a competition, which very clearly pits two sides against one another.  It's not quite Celtics versus Lakers, but it's hard to see an outcome that won't involve one side being branded as the "winner", while the other is the "loser".  Fans naturally love to back winners, which is why many are declaring their allegiances.

Other fans are influenced by their own personal convictions.  Some will be "pro-labor" in almost any employee / employer dispute; others will be anti-union, no matter what the circumstances.  Some see race as a factor here, and gravitate toward the players as a matter of social justice.  Others see the players as prima donnas who want to have their cake and eat it too, earning millions of dollar while coasting by on their talent; Eddy Curry and Vin Baker are poster boys for those fans who adopt this view.

In the end, though, I personally think it's silly, to get worked up over who "wins".  I'm not talking about the fans who think one side makes more sense than the other.  No, I mean the passionate, hardcore true believers, the ones who want to see the owners crush the players, or the fans who would prefer the players to sit out the season rather than make a "bad" deal. 

We're talking about a group of approximately 500 people who can't decide how to divvy up $4 billion in revenue.  Nobody has clean hands here.  Sure, it was the owners who locked the players out, but if the roles were reversed, would the players behave any differently?  I think not.  Collectively, the two sides are a group of millionaires and billionaires who are completely out of touch with the reality of the average American.  They'd rather slaughter their golden goose than cave over approximately $40 million per side in annual revenue.  These aren't particularly likable people, and that's even before getting into the agents and the lawyers, etc.

Are these really the people you want to be defending?  Is it really going to matter in your life one iota if the two sides meet in the middle at 51/49, rather than holding out for that last 1%?  Are the flame wars and strident statements really necessary?  I'm truly curious:  why do you care?  Isn't playing basketball the thing that matters here, rather than some imaginary ideal of "fairness"? 

I say, just play.  Both sides, give in.  Or, better yet, give back.  Players, owners, listen up:  you want this lockout to be over without "giving in" and "losing face"?  Do you want to "stand on principle"?  Here's the solution:  Players get 50% of BRI, owners get 48%, and...  the fans get 2%.  Take that $80 million, and redistribute to the fans in the way of free tickets.  That's approximately 1300 tickets at $50 each per 41 home games.  That's a plan I can get fired up about.  All the rest of this?  It's just nonsense that's not worth losing sleep over.  If you're one of those fans who is really going to be upset if your side "caves", I'd suggest you take a step back and re-examine your priorities.  Neither side cares about you, so why waste your breath defending them?

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