By Johnathan Tillman / @thetillshow
December 2, 2012.
For the second straight Sunday, I was blessed with the rare occurrence of my favorite NFL and NBA teams playing on the same day. This one was especially nice because for a period of time, the viewing of both games overlapped. The New York Knicks had a noon tip with the Suns, and the San Francsico 49ers kicked off an hour later in St. Louis against the Rams. I had both games on simultaneously, as any capable fan would.
The Knicks overcame a fourth-quarter siesta after building a big lead to win. The Niners went to another overtime, only to lose on a field goal. But this post isn’t about wins and losses. It’s about fandom. The Sports Fan Journal has had posts on both the Knicks and Niners in recent days, so I figured I would offer my unique perspective as a supporter of these two franchises.
The main similarity between these two teams is that they appear to be on the upswing after nearly a decade of futility. There is no need to mention the various failures. I trust you reading this know of at least a couple mishaps. Anyway, the Knicks and Niners are both good, with San Francisco having more people on its championship bandwagon than in New York. This brings me to their next similarity: questions surrounding the team.
In today’s sports culture, we tend to look for flaws and make bigger deals out of them. The 49ers are in the midst of a quarterback controversy, while people are wondering if Amar’e Stoudemire will disrupt the chemistry in Madison Square Garden. Inquiries like these frustrate me not because of their validity, but rather they have the potential to be unnecessary distractions.
If you’ve heard me call in to or co-host the Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show, you know that I stay as objective as possible when discussing the state of any team, especially my own. My unwavering support does not spill over into healthy debate and truth. However, I do not like when my teams are good but are headlining various sports broadcasts for reasons other than their play. To me, it brings the wrong kind of eyes to them. It allows for those people who wait on good teams to flop to nitpick. Granted, the teams/players involved play their roles in amplifying any situation. For example, if Coach Jim Harbaugh commits to one quarterback, then he appears more stable. Instead, subscribing to this “hot hand” theory, he opens the door for criticism if and when the team doesn’t play well.
So where does that leave me? Honestly, I think some decision is going to cost both franchises a shot at a title. I believe the coaches of each team will be stubborn and make a decision that will prove to hinder more than help. It may be a Harbaugh third-down call or a Mike Woodson faulty lineup shuffle, but I think something outside of being outplayed will leave me as a championship-less fan for the 18th straight year. You can label it pessimism, but I’ve supported these teams long enough that even I have that same cautionary inquisitive spirit sports analysts are possessed by whenever I discuss my teams. I just call it logical optimism.
I say all that to say: Fo Knicks. Go 49ers. Prove me wrong.