Posted in TNGG

A Crucial Catch: Breast Cancer and the NFL

My latest for TNGG — as originally posted here.

Breast Cancer Cupcakes

Whether it is your mom, grandmother, aunt, niece, neighbor, friend, daughter, spouse, or yourself, almost every person knows someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. This is not surprising, as statistics tell us that every three minutes a woman is diagnosed and every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer in this country. These alarming rates have caused an increased call for breast cancer awareness — hence slogans like “I Heart Boobies” and “save the ta-tas” popping up all over. The latest catch phrase to inundate us is “A Crucial Catch” — NFL’s slogan for the month.

The month of October is officially National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) and the NFL is currently in its third season of a partnership with the American Cancer Society. The NFL, teams and players are spreading the word and trying to focus on getting women to know the importance of getting a yearly screening, especially those if you are over 40. Fields have pink ribbons stenciled on them, game balls and coins are turning pink and you can even find pink cleats, towels, gloves and more on the players to spread the message. Not only are they wearing and painting things pink, but all the pink you see is being auctioned off and the proceeds are going to charity.

While the league has been doing this for three years now, some teams, like the Giants, have been supporting the cause for much longer. And they’re not the only ones. Many players in the NFL have been affected by breast cancer and the support comes pouring out from more than just the league. The Redskins’s tight end, Chris Cooley, whose mother is a survivor, works with the team’s community relation department to host the Chris Cooley All-Star Survivors Celebration, an afternoon to give to and support survivors.

But there are still some out there who only see this as a marketing ploy. Our friends over at the Good Men Project think this is purely a way to get more female fans — last year they pointed out that more fans are affected by heart disease than breast cancer. Some females even think this is just a way to show us that we matter. With these skepticisms, I have yet to see an official reason from the NFL to say why they’re doing it. But does it really matter why? They’re doing something great for women (and men) and they are showing us that they haven’t forgotten us. Plus it’s a lot more than we see the NBA, NHL or MLB doing.

What do you think? Whether it’s a marketing ploy or not, does it really matter? Or is the NFL supporting the cause enough that the reason behind it doesn’t matter much?

Posted in TNGG

The Root of Who you Root For: New York’s Classic Sports Rivalries

This is my second installment for the blog I write for, The Next Great Generation — as originally posted here.

Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Devils and Islanders. The New York area has nine professional teams in four professional sports. (Eleven, if you count the Buffalo Bills and Sabres.) As a New Yorker (yes, it is where my birth certificate was issued), how am I supposed to root for three hockey teams, and two football, baseball and basketball (if I followed the NBA) teams? Given our plethora of options, we don’t just root for the home team, we root for our team. Personally, I bleed blue (Giants, Rangers, Yankees — and I would have to pick the Knicks, even though I’m not a big NBA fan).

While some of the rivalries are rather civil, like the Knicks and Nets, the rivalries between the Yankees and Mets (aka the Subway Series rivalry) and the Giants and Jets (they do share the same home stadium) can become much more heated — these rivalries even extend beyond the fans, into the players on the teams.

But even with the hometown rivalries, New Yorkers have greater rivals to the north — that’s right, up in Beantown. Since New York’s teams are not in the same divisions (the Yankees in the AL and Mets in the NL, the Giants in the NFL and the Jets in the AFL), we have bigger rivals in neighboring cities with our divisional rivals. AskMen.com rates the Yankee-Sox rivalry in the Top Five Sports Rivalries.

In 1918, the Red Sox won the World Series and in 1920, Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees  — the Sox didn’t win another World Series until 2004. This “trade” became the root of the most intense, most publicized and longest-standing rivalries in the MLB. “1918” and “Yankees suck” chants are only the tip of the iceberg here — just check out YouTube and you will see the fights and brawls that have been caught on tape. Just think of the infamous time Pedro threw Zimmer to the ground. A word to the wise: if you are a Boston fan, don’t come to Yankee Stadium in Sox gear just for kicks.

Just as baseball rivalries exist in NY, so do football rivalries. Giants and Jets fans battle constantly for bragging rights — the rivalry is like that of a little kid trying to step into some rather big shoes (until this year, Jets home games were played at Giants Stadium). With only 16 regular season games, the two see most of their field time against each other in the pre-season — and this year brought along extra rivalry-fueled decisions, most of which were solved by the flip of a coin. Yet again, New York has a battle between the underdog and the well established team. And our underdog here has their divisional rival to the northeast as well, the New England Patriots.

Regardless of if it’s a New York-New York rivalry or a New York-Boston rivalry, it really all boils down to fans rooting for their home team. Whether it’s for bragging rights or a battle of the best city in the northeast, die-hard fans will always root for the home team (if you’re smart you root for the better, “all-American” team). At least with our intra-NY rivalries, the joking and teasing between fans tends to stay superficial and less people get harmed.
For a true, die-hard fan, who you root for defines who you are. It’s not just a game. It’s a lifestyle.
Posted in TNGG

Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend

So, I know it’s been a while, but that’s because I have been working on my first post for a kick-ass blog, The Next Great Generation. It’s a blog for millennials, written for and by us. My first post was published this morning and is about female sports fans — as originally published here — or you can read it below:

How many times have you been to a game where the girl sitting two rows ahead of you keeps asking the guy to her right to explain what’s happening because she can’t follow? After filing her nails, reading Spencer Pratt’s tweets and checking perezhilton.com on her bejeweled, pink iPhone for the duration of the hockey game, Whitney fluffs her bleach-blond hair and asks Johnny how the game ended with a score of 1-1.

Obviously, she doesn’t know that if neither team scores in OT and the shootout ends in a draw, NHL regulation games can end in a tie. In July, she thinks a grand slam is a meal at Denny’s. Come November, she doesn’t get why the football score is increasing in increments of 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8. Sadly, the majority of males seem to be under the impression that all the ladies at the game are like Whitney.

“If you ask me, Jimmy Fallon, his knuckler hasn’t been the same since the All-Star Break.”

I am not a Whitney. I bleed blue for the Giants, Rangers and Yankees (a true New York fan). I learned to throw a football before I could ride a bike.  I was born on a Thursday evening — week four of the 1986 football season.  Three days later, my dad held me on his lap while watching the NY Giants game in the hospital.  I watched the rest of that season in my father’s arms, and at four months old, I saw my team winSuperbowl XXI. Ever since, dad has deemed me the G-men’s, “Lucky Charm.” Over the past 24 years, I have watched more sporting events than I can count. I grew up destined to be a die-hard.

Female sports fans are becoming more vocal and abundant worldwide. Female fans can sit on the couch and drink some beers while watching Monday Night Football, or catch the Yankees game on one of the TVs at the local sports bar.

The best part is, we don’t need the boys around to have fun or know what’s going on. All we want to do is watch the game. We want to see our team wipe the floor with our rival. Seeing the other team’s starting pitcher dislocate his shoulder wouldn’t upset us in the least. We want to see our fantasy team’s defense have five sacks and twice as many interceptions. Come January, we don’t know what to do with ourselves on Mondays, because all we’ve been watching is the MNF games for the past four months. And when our team loses by one in the last game of the season, and just barely misses out on the playoff run, we need to be left alone to wallow in our misery.

It’s easy in our culture to assume that die-hard fans are men, because that’s how it’s always been. History is not the only thing we have going against us. The stereotypical female fan is the one who’s jumping on the bandwagon and doesn’t fully understand the game — or is simply rooting for her boyfriend’s favorite team. For the ladies who happen to be true die-hard fans, our motives as to why we watch are questioned.

Bandwagon Babes (ladies who jump on bandwagons) bring a bad name to all female fans. A perfect example would be the Boston sports dynasty of the past decade. The number of Boston female sports fans has skyrocketed since 2001. Why? The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Meanwhile, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, followed by the Celtics championship run in 2008. As a New York fan living in Boston at the time, what bothered me most wasn’t that Boston was winning; what was frustrating was seeing ladies become Sox fans simply because they thought it was “cool.” These are the same women who asked “What curse?” in an attempt to find answers, rather than to voice their skepticism. Boston is not the only city that has seen the rise of females jumping on bandwagons, which is why many men don’t see females as real fans.

In cities across America, many of the female “fans” couldn’t name more than their hometown team’s starting QB. There are an increasing number of pink jerseys seen in the stands at football games these days. And,while the pink jersey may be a cute look, other fans discredit them immediately upon seeing the feminine hue.

Being a fan is not about you and your favorite color; it’s about team camaraderie and the spirit and morale of fans as a whole. Otherwise, as a Giants fan with the favorite color green, I’d be wearing a jersey looking like an Eagles or Jets fan while cheering for my big, blue wrecking crew.

To the lady readers, which type of fan are you? Are you a pink-jersey-wearing-bandwagoner? Or are you a real fan who actually “gets it”? Perhaps you are like my friend Megan and I — we refuse to buy a Manning or Sanchez jersey because we don’t want people to think it’s the only player we know.

To the guys who are still having doubts that a female can be a die-hard fan just like you, I ask you to ponder the following: One of my most prized possessions is a game ball from when the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. One of my most cherished memories is stepping onto the diamond at the original Yankee Stadium. Before I left for college, the most important thing I did was add my name to what was at the time, a 40-year waiting list for Giants’ season tickets. So I ask you — why can’t I be a die-hard fan, too?

Photo by hotrodhomepage.