Patriots Nation is Fanatic Fandom At It’s Best

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Mackenzie Smith

The New England Patriots are known as one of the greatest teams in football. Illustration by Mackenzie Smith

Lauren Cincotta, News Editor

Outside of Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots play, fans gather decked out in Patriots gear. Some of them have proudly painted their faces and the intensity of the energy is palpable. These people have come not only to tailgate and see a game, but witness a victory. Being the best is expected, and the fans believe it is well earned. They believe that the team has overcome great odds to reach the level of success they have seen in recent years. The New England Patriots are known as one of the greatest football teams. Their quarterback, Tom Brady, is often called the greatest of all time (GOAT). 

Their fanbase is known as one of the strongest in football. Like any professional sports team, fans often sport their Patriots gear, from Superbowl and playoff sweatshirts to player jerseys. In recent years, the team has won many Super Bowls. Victories in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017, and 2019 have established a high standard of success. These six wins have them tied with the Steelers for the most Superbowl wins in history, which has essentially moved Tom Brady next to God in the eyes of his fans. 

For years, the Patriots did not see a Superbowl game and the few times they did during the 80’s and 90’s, they did not win. Today’s team dominance and strong fan culture are fairly new editions to the franchise considering the team was founded in the 1960s. Fans of the Patriots have celebrated each of these victories because they feel that these victories are hard-won by players in the game and those watching at home. The trademarked phrase, “We are all Patriots”, first applied to the team after winning their first Super Bowl victory in 2002. This phrase has caught on over time among Patriot fans and has even been trademarked by the team. This slogan and the sense of belonging that goes with it helps to explain the unnecessary intensity of the New England fan base. 

People want to feel like they belong. This explains many social habits of humans. Being a fan of a certain sports team opens up an entire community of people linked by a common source of enjoyment. Even if two people have never met, they might share a momentary connection based on the fact that they are both wearing Patriots gear. This connection, however insignificant it may seem, helps to fulfill a basic human need. This need is part of what drives fandom in any sport. Companies make money off of this need in many ways, stores sell overpriced Patriots merchandise which ranges from baby gear, hats, and other clothing items.  The wide range of merchandise available caters to people of all ages and stages of life. The team logo even appears on everyday items like coffee cups, which are given to everyone even if they didn’t ask for it. 

 For those who do not value this community, it can feel trivial or confusing to see the intensity of the connection that others have to a team and the players that have no material impact on their lives. Some might feel an obligation to support the team because they want to root for the local team and do not want to be criticized. Others enjoy being contrary to popular opinions or values, and shamelessly denounce the intense fan culture found for the New England Patriots. No matter the opinion, criticizing  someone for not rooting for a team that happens to represent their home state in the National Football League is wrong. 

But, it is not all Patriots fans, across the NFL and other sports leagues strong team loyalty is expected. This can even extend to college and high school teams and unfortunately youth sports. News stations often highlight brawls at youth events perpetrated by parents or coaches. This culture of intensity regarding sports is found at every level. It’s time to take a step back. Do victories at any level of sports really define any of the average people watching, either in the stands in person, or on television? Do sports superstitions and loyalty really mean anything? 

Patriots fans stood by the team through the Deflategate Scandal, which occurred during a game in 2015. During that game, it was discovered that footballs had been deflated below league standards. After the investigation that followed, Tom Brady was ordered to serve a four-game suspension for his awareness of the scheme. This did nothing to hurt him in the eyes of loyal patriots fans. It was perceived as whining from less successful teams. 

The fact is that Brady’s image did not suffer in the eyes of die hard Patriots fans. These same diehard fans take their own involvement in the team’s victory very seriously. Random sports superstitions have prevailed for generations, wearing lucky jerseys or not watching at all, are observed vehemently in order to minimize a perceived impact on the game. This is completely ridiculous. When it comes down to it, fans are only supporting the organization, not the players themselves.  Players, though well respected and generally liked, are replaceable. When a player is traded to another team, it is extremely unlikely that they will experience much fan support after moving on. An example of this is 49’s quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. 

Garappolo previously played for the Patriots and was enormously popular among fans. After being traded in 2018, Garappolo did not see a lot of New England fan support until the 49’s played in the Super Bowl on February 2nd. Even so, it was the absence of the Patriots that brought many fans attention to the fact that one of their once favorite players were playing in the biggest game in football. 

The amount of attention on the Super Bowl, regardless of whether or not the Patriots are in the game, only contributes to the fan craze around professional football. Commercial slots during the Super Bowl are some of the most expensive on television. The commercials are frequently released ahead of time, and a lot of thought and money goes into creating entertaining or thought provoking ads, many with star power. The reason this industry is so huge is because companies know that people are drawn to football and they can reach many people with advertising for their product.

 Even Super Bowl celebrations for the winning team have been known to get out of control in recent years. In 2018, there were riots in Philadelphia after their team, the Eagles, won the big game. Fans started fires and even overturned some cars during the riots. The intensity of this celebration, due in part to the spread of mob mentality, caused expensive damage. The fact that victory riots like this occur gives an alarming example of the unhealthy obsession people have with team sports. 

Everyone likes to root for the home team, and people love it even more when their team is perceived as the “under-dog”. The reality is life is hard and people want to watch something that allows them to escape. Football provides that and much more for many Americans. It is a combination of family tradition, team rivalry, and this desire to see someone close to you win. As superstitions and traditions have demonstrated, people will do whatever it takes to be as close as possible to the action, from paying high ticket prices, or buying every type of merchandise available, to vigorously celebrating a victory.