Local radio host Peter Boyles is apparently irritated that Colorado Rockies fans are using the wrong pronoun when discussing the team. Rather than saying, “The Rockies are one win from the World Series,” many fans say “We’re one win from the World Series!”
I used to be a sports reporter in a previous life, so I am perhaps more sensitive than most to using the term “we” when discussing your favorite team. Sports reporters are supposed to be objective – or at least pretend to be objective – so using “we” is as taboo as cheering in the press box. Not only does “we” imply an obvious bias, it’s also gramatically and logically incorrect; if you do not play for the Rockies or work in the team’s front office, then you are not a “we.”
I often joke with family and friends whenever they use the term “we” to describe their favorite team. When someone is watching the Denver Broncos and says something like “We just scored,” I usually reply with a sarcastic “Really? Did you catch the pass?” I’m only half-joking, however, because I’ll admit that using “we” in relation to sports teams has been an irritation of mine in the past.
It’s probably more accurate to use “we” when talking about your support for a college team if you attended that university, because then you have an actual logical connection to the team (just as it would be more natural to celebrate a high school football victory – if you are still in high school – by yelling “We won!”), but I suppose you could make the same claim to a professional team if you bought a ticket to see them play at some point. Fans like to say that professional teams owe them results because “we pay the player’s salaries,” just as people who get angry with their politicians like to trot out the old “my taxes pay your salary” line. People also do the same thing with everyday actions that impact their wallets; have you ever heard someone refer to the local supermarket as “my supermarket” because they always shop at that location?
But if we stick to the monetary right of inclusion, by that logic you would have to say that people who do not go to Rockies games are not entitled to think of the team as “we” or “us.” If you’ve never bought a ticket, do you still get to say “We won!” They are the Colorado Rockies, and you do live in Colorado, right?
I’ve changed my stance on using the royal “we,” but not because of any of these arguments. Using “we” when talking about the Rockies, Broncos or any other local team is a nice way to create a sense of community, and for that reason I’m coming around on the use of the term. I think it’s nice that people in Colorado might feel connected to each other because of the recent success of the Rockies, and if it takes an incorrect pronoun to make people come together, then so be it. You see the same thing in the Olympics, when people look over the medal standings and say, “We won Gold!” Sure, it’s incorrect, but if it makes people feel like we are all a part of something bigger, then it should be encouraged. If Coloradans can share a common bond because of a baseball team, “we” shouldn’t get in the way of that.
Go Rockies! You can do it!