I have experienced sporting events in many places around the country but I had yet to really take on the full New York experience until I got here. The basketball scene fascinated me and I chose to take it on with a Knicks game and two Nets games in the last week. As a result of these opportunities, I was able to pick up on some oddly distinguishing characteristics of New York sports culture.
First off, I must say, people are angry. Granted, when the Knicks are 5-35 and the Nets are 16-23 with both teams steadily gaining more checks in the loss column, it is difficult to watch. This might lead one to believe that people are impassioned about sports in New York because she their teams lose, it elicits so much emotion. However, I have gotten the sense by talking to locals and people we have met that the reason people seem to be so angry at sports events is due to the fact that “they just like to bitch,” as said by the web sports content editor at the New York Daily News. It is an interesting thing to hear and one I have personally heard some evidence for during my time at games. Amid the common shouts of “you suck!” I once even heard the comment, “don’t cheer for him! He’s a vegetarian!” when Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams was at the free throw line in Brooklyn. I must admit it was hilarious at the time, but serves to illustrate the point in retrospect.
Both of the Nets games were attended almost exclusively by people under 40, while the Knicks game I attended had a large demographic of middle-aged fans. I think a lot of that difference had to do with ticket pricing and as a result, I think there is going to be a marked shift in the New York basketball fan base in the next ten years. I see the shift becoming even more rapid if the Knicks continue to disappoint. Moreover, it might be fair to say the Knicks will become your dad’s team.
Lastly, despite the relatively poor records of both teams, the team stores in both arenas were packed with people trying to get their hands on team apparel. If this is any indication, people still want to sport the look and cultural component that comes with visibly expressing fandom of either New York team.
All in all, the whole culture is so complicated and I’m still said I can’t get a more developed understanding of it. However, I look forward to delving into it even more the next time I visit in order to see how things have changed if at all.