What if the timeline went wrong, would you still be a Wings fan?
Nature vs Nurture: A study of territory, birthright, and entropy.
What One Big Thing in the past would have erased your allegiance to the Red Wings? What if your hometown was different? What if your favorite player was traded? What if your parents were born somewhere else? What if you actually knew how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
Scratch that last one, although it would be interesting if that sacred knowledge impacted your hockey fandom.
From here, I could invite you to join me in an organized and coherent discussion of this idea or I could take a longer and more colorful route to our destination.
TIME TRAVELERS DON’T READ THIS.
How did you become a Red Wings fan? Try on the alignments below and and see which one(s) fit your story. Tell us in the comments what a time traveler would have to break in order to steal your allegiance from Hockeytown?
Fans by Territory - What if your life in Michigan happened somewhere else?
The hometown heroes who have lived in Michigan their entire lives. Being a Wings fan was the easy and obvious choice. Michigan is your state. Red Wings are your team. Everybody is wearing Red Wings gear. You are among your people in your safe and secure territory.
What if you were born and raised in different place, would you still be a Wings fan?
These are people who grew up in Michigan and left for at least a few years. You could argue going to college out of state doesn’t really count, but I’m not listening to arguments right now. They’ve already had their loyalty tested by leaving home team territory and did not waver.
But what if that test of loyalty was stronger? What if your travels away from Michigan took you to a hockey-crazed region for another team? What if you were born and raised in a different place, would you still be a Wings fan?
These Wings fans were not born and raised in Michigan, but have now come to call it home. This is a tricky group, as to answer “what if” you have to consider the “why”. Were you a Wings fan before moving to Michigan? Did you become a Wings fan because you moved to Michigan?
What if your Michigan history happened in a different team’s state, would you still be a Wings fan? If you had another reason to be a Wings fan before you moved to Michigan, then you probably wouldn’t have abandoned the team. If you became a Wings fan because you moved to Michigan, you probably don’t become a fan if that move never happened.
These Wings fans did grow up in Michigan but moved away, blazing a trail for the Winged Wheel, and haven’t looked back. Many of them have settled in and started their own families, adding new Red Wings fans to the world and furthering the occupation of enemy territory. This is a similar “what if” scenario to the Fetch-Questers, but even stronger as the temptation to adapt to the local fandom is stronger for permanent residents.
Fans by Birthright - What if your strongest Michigan connection was broken?
They haven’t lived in Michigan but inherited the Wings through the family. They were born into the fandom but it was not reinforced - and in fact was attacked - by their environment. They have spent their life operating in enemy territory, infiltrating regions controlled by rival teams and never backing down. Always surrounded by danger and fiercely defending the chosen team of the bloodline.
Without the inheritance, are you still a Wings fan? Highly unlikely, and there’s a good chance you get swept up in the local fandom. No matter how dastardly that fandom may be.
Like the Outsiders, their Wings fandom is inherited. However, almost nobody cares. They aren’t in a hockey territory, but there are probably some assorted fans of teams you hate that you have no problem giving the stink-eye to when you passive aggressively take the last box of teddy grahams you didn’t even want just because they were reaching for it.
Without the inheritance, are you still a Wings fan? Highly unlikely, but you may find your way to the Wings via entropy with no competing teams vying for your attention.
Wings fans by association. They are fans of another Detroit sport and default to the Red Wings if hockey is mentioned but are casual fans at best. I do this with basketball and the Pistons rather than affiliate with any hometown teams because I just don’t care about basketball, but I’m not TRADUR TO THA TEEM either. I also don’t care about football, but I am deeply invested in the antics and meltdowns of Lions Twitter...
Without the other Detroit team, are you still a Wings fan? Nope. You’re barely even a Wings fan now, but we’re still glad to have you.
Fans by Entropy - What if nothing matters and fandom is an illusion?
We can’t discover the “what if” that would erase a fandom if we don’t know how it happened in the first place. How far back would we need to go to trigger that butterfly effect scenario?
This is purely for science and not for time travelers who hate the Red Wings.
Fans outside North America, who have never lived in North America, who have no legacy connection to the Wings, what rare and marvelous gems. Mostly. If anyone goes to space, slap a Wings sticker on a satellite when you do a flyby. Expand the map.
Perhaps the Red Wings were included in a tv show or movie you liked. Maybe you hopped on the bandwagon during a playoffs run and never looked back. Some of you may have even had a friend of a friend on Wings twitter and wanted to join the garbage heap. Something you saw made you want to get in on the action.
Your journey started with pure hatred. The enemy of your enemy was the Red Wings. It’s more likely you were a temporary Wings fan for just one game, or just one series, but maybe there’s somebody out there who started out liking the Red Wings just because they hated the Avs and stuck around.
See that guy? That guy right there? That’s YOUR guy and your loyalty will follow him to any team he plays for and you will fight anyone who even thinks about him in an unflattering manner. This is more likely to turn you against your country in international tournaments than your NHL team.
This loyalty may also attach you to a side team, but would it be able to turn you against the Wings for the right player? Look at yourself in the mirror and ask “Would I still be 100% a Wings fan if Henrik Zetterberg played for Tor-” [sound of mirror breaking, sirens going off, mild explosions, wailing, gnashing of teeth, etc.]
What’s your story?
How did you become a Red Wings fan and what could a time traveler break to steal you from Hockeytown? Share in the comments!
In case you were wondering, I am an Outsider. If my dad wasn’t from Michigan I probably wouldn’t have gotten interested in hockey at all. Or worse, I could have grown up a Penguins or Flyers fan or become a Bruins fan in college. I could be a Capitals fan right now. Thankfully, my dad was smart enough to be born in Michigan.