BOSTON – Outside the New England area, it’s often asked if fans get burned out. The short answer is no, not even a little.
Boston is different and the city’s sports fans know it and love it. The city’s third championship in less than eight months is within reach pending Wednesday’s Game 7 against the Blues and words like spoiled, old hat and bored are being thrown around outside of New England. Yet, inside, not one of these championship runs has seen a dwindled fandom or lack of excitement for the team.
After all, just like great movies or great books don’t get old, championship runs don’t either. Each has its ups and downs, its stories and highlights, its own plot, and just because you’ve read one great book, it doesn’t stop you from wanting to read another, even if it has a familiar setting or author. The 2001 Patriots win does not mean anything for the 2013 Red Sox, and that ending does nothing for the 2019 Bruins, who want a storybook ending of their own.
“It makes it exciting because each road and path to a championship is different,” said Tom Cunningham, a lifelong Boston sports fan. “Some players may be the same but there are always new ones, and there’s always a new storyline or reason to root for the team and want them to succeed and win it all. As a fan, there’s no better thrill than watching your team overcoming the odds and winning.”
Boston teams are known for supporting each other. Often a win for one seems like a win for all. The defending Super Bowl champs showed their support for this Bruins team by wearing B’s hats at practice, voicing hype videos and sending in messages of support.
In step, this Bruins team can be found wearing Red Sox hats, clearly excited over their recent championship victory. However, for the Bruins, it’s not enough – they want a championship of their own and seeing other teams in the city win just fuels the fire.
And like the Boston players support one another despite playing in different leagues, there is a feeling of unity across the states and among all fans.
“It’s unique because all of the fans are so passionate, and for the most part actually know about the sports, and really do care. They are more than just a fair-weather fan,” Cunningham added. “The passion you see around the city for the teams is unmatched.”
New England fans are born rooting for these teams. In turn, there is a responsibility for the players to not only bring home championship titles, but to show pride and represent the team well.
“When players have the privilege of putting on that spoked ‘B’, putting on a Red Sox jersey, wearing a four leaf clover on your back or having the Patriot logo on your helmet, it means more than just being part of a team,” said Vinny Villani, about as big of a Bruins fan as you’ll find, regarding this responsibility. “You have a standard to uphold and the fans in this city look at our team’s players like heroes.”
Although fans admire the star players, they also support and rely on every single member of the team, even if they’re not the biggest name or play the largest role. That dedication has led fans to show up to everything – preseason Patriots games, rainy early April Red Sox games and off-sight Bruins events look like playoff games.
“In some other cities it’s exciting in the arena when a team wins, but you can go 20 minutes down the road and not even know there was a game,” noted a crew member in charge of the goal cameras for the Stanley Cup Final. “In Boston, it’s electric everywhere.”
That was even more evident walking through the streets near TD Garden before hosting 2019 Stanley Cup Final games – everyone was talking hockey. From police officers to construction workers to a random passerby, all you heard was comments like, “Bruins in 5” and “I think if Bergeron steps up, we can take this.”
It all relates back to these teams and you can feel that everywhere in “Titletown.” When the Bruins swept the Hurricanes, the feeling in the city could not be further from, “Oh, this again.” The Bruins’ last Stanley Cup Final appearance was in 2011 and, for Boston fans, that’s a long time; they’re ready for another.
The bar is set high in Boston.
It goes beyond hoping for a win and turns into putting in requests on when they need them to win. From an outside view, it’s unapologetically obnoxious, but winning has become part of the culture here.
Due to the expectation of victory, the “How-To” of celebrating championships in Boston has become a well-oiled machine. Boston fans know how to win, and they get better at planning to win every year. They know the parade route, the best spots to stand to get a view of Brady, the best bars to go to sing “Sweet Caroline” when the Sox win the World Series. They know to start saving up for tickets, merchandise and a sick day for the day after a championship win. Fans know what goes down and they have pre-made championship playlists to prove it.
Even speaking to Boston media members regarding their view on covering yet another championship, they said they weren’t tired of watching the hometown teams win; they’re just physically tired given the hustle it takes to keep covering these major events, of watching and covering greatness. While it’s still a job, they take a second to appreciate where they are and what they are witnessing.
Sitting by the Zamboni door taking in the empty TD Garden ahead of Game 2 before the fans arrived, you couldn’t help but pay close attention to the expression on everyone’s face as they walked up to the ice, seeing the “Stanley Cup Final” logo on the big screen – their faces lit up, their smiles grew ten times its original size and they looked like little kids arriving at a rink for the first time.
Fans from other areas love reminding Bostonians this ride will end, but for now, the self-proclaimed “City of Champions” is soaking it all in and enjoying every home run, touchdown, dunk and goal.
Speaking for all Boston fans, Villani ends his interview saying, “Bring us the Cup!”
So, if you were wondering whether Boston fans get sick of winning championships, it’s kind of like someone getting sick of winning the lottery – they don’t.
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