As summer winds down and the carefree excitement of beach trips and Buffett concerts comes to a close, people across the nation settle in for what some would call an even better time of year: football season. From the pre-season openers to the playoffs, it’s almost impossible not to get caught up in the craze.
But as Redskins fans are coming off of yet another year of losses, some may wonder – why do Skins fans remain loyal after all of this time? Much has been made of the frustrations and disappointments that they have put up with year after year…and some people’s patience (and allegiance) may have started to waiver. Given that the much younger Baltimore Ravens have been unquestionably more successful over the past 16 years (since their inception), is it possible that the Redskins would start losing their fans to the Ravens Nation? Interviewing local Skins fans regarding this topic provided me with a surprisingly common response – there’s no way they would transfer their loyalty to another team. One anonymous fan who was born and raised in DC said “I’m simply rather indifferent about the Ravens, just like most other teams in the league… I likely wouldn’t cheer against them, but I don’t support them.” Another fan had a somewhat stronger opinion: “I couldn’t care less about the Ravens…I will remain a Skins fan for life.” It seems that despite the Redskins’ recent history, their fans continue to wear their burgundy and gold proudly.
So what happens each year during or even before the playoffs, when the Skins fall out of the running for the Super Bowl? Are their fans willing to consider the Ravens a secondary team to cheer for? Games do tend to be more interesting when you care about the outcome, after all. Or would they rather just not cheer for anyone? The fan first quoted above stated that he would most likely pick a random team to support, as he just doesn’t feel a connection to the Ravens. He followed up by saying “Most Skins fans I know don’t really care about the Ravens at all.” Regarding the feelings of Skins fans towards their northern neighbors, one Ravens fan hypothesized; “I think (Redskins fans) are bitter that the Ravens ‘stole’ some of their fan base.”
And how do Ravens fans feel about the Redskins, since the Skins were the native team long before the Ravens arrived in 1996? It seems that the sentiments are a bit warmer from most Marylanders. Megan Blair, an original resident of Columbia, MD, and diehard Ravens fan, stated “My grandparents took us to a few [Redskins] games growing up, but I was never a huge fan of the team; just football in general. When the Ravens came to Baltimore, my parents, sister, and I got on board…I still follow the Skins and go to a game every year or so and want them to win as well, but the Ravens will always be my number 1.” It seems that Ravens fans are willing to consider the Skins as a team they’d cheer for as long as they’re not playing each other (which rarely happens, but does occur this year). Even Ravens Coach John Harbaugh has been quoted as saying that he would welcome the opportunity for the Ravens to be considered Redskins fans’ AFC team (and on the flip side, for them to be Ravens fans’ NFC team). Unfortunately for Coach Harbaugh, based on the comments from the DC residents I spoke with, that doesn’t seem too likely.
So it appears that, despite the Redskins’ more recent history, their fan base is not going anywhere…and is not interested in having a backup team to support. With Robert Griffin III newly drafted, however, this may be the much-needed turning point after a long dry spell – Redskins fans can only hope. As a Ravens fan, I’ll be following the Skins’ progress occasionally from my local sports bar…in my Ed Reed jersey.
Whether you’re a Redskins or a Ravens fan (or both!), you probably enjoy cheering them on with others. Check out these meet-up sites: www.redskins.meetup.com, www.meetup.com/Baltimore-Ravens-Fan-Group-Virginia-DC-Metro-Chapter.