Many readers have noticed a similarity to Rick Reilly®'s latest 800-and-out offering about fan loyalty and one the Sports Fella wrote in 2002, but considering that Reilly doesn't ever read Simmons (too many words!) it's unlikely he lifted it.
At one point, though, you'd think that ESPN editors (or Reilly®) would make sure his recycled bag of sports zaniness hasn't already been written by a.) The Artist Formerly Known As Rick Reilly or b.) Bill Simmons, if only to quiet those readers who enjoy stoking the imaginary rivalry between the two of them.
Here's Reilly's 10 reasons why you can abandon your team:
1. You actually play for that new team. In this case, you must still wear the cup of your old team during games.
2. You purchased that new team. However, you must have had a damn good reason for purchasing a rival. Michael Jordan can buy a piece of the Charlotte Bobcats because the Charlotte Bobcats can't win if locked in a gym with three pygmies. But if Jordan bought the Detroit Pistons? Bonfires of Air Jordans everywhere.
3. Your team hired male cheerleaders.
4. Your town's law enforcement permanently banned you from coming within 500 feet of your team's players, staff or stadium. Sure, sure, we know it was all a big misunderstanding. You were parked outside Peyton Manning's house with a telescope and three months of detailed charts because you are his personal astrologist.
5. Your spouse cheated on you with somebody from your team. With a starter, not some backup, coach or crappy PR intern. And you had to find out by some stomach-turning means, such as skywriting.
6. Your team is approaching its 50th year of one-family ownership and still hasn't won diddly. This is known as The Darwin Rule and allows you to escape, free of charge. Good example: The Fords of Detroit. No wonder 10 of the 22 declared NFL fan free agents at Fan-Free-Agency.com are ex-Lions fans.
Rule 6b. Your owner still wears Members Only jackets. His initials are Al Davis.
7. Your team's home games are no longer televised. You are free to go, Jags fans.
8. Your team folded or left town. In this case, you are automatically an unrestricted fan free agent and can immediately put yourself up for bid. A writer named Scott Soshnick did this recently with every big-four franchise. Only nine wrote back. But one — the Golden State Warriors — had 28 employees send him we-want-you e-mails, mailed him a jersey with his name on it, sent a DVD with rookies wearing that jersey, signed him to a $1 lifetime contract and wrote a mock press release announcing a new fan acquisition.
9. Your team changed its uniforms to teal.
10. Your team is the Cubs. Seriously. Go already.
And here's Simmons' version, circa 2002.
19. Once you choose a team, you're stuck with that team for the rest of your life ... unless one of the following conditions applies:
# Your team moves to another city. All bets are off when that happens. In fact, if you decided to turn off that sport entirely, nobody would blame you.
# You grew up in a city that didn't field a team for a specific sport — so you picked a random team — and then either a.) your city landed a team, or b.) you moved to a city that fielded a team for that specific sport. For instance, one of my Connecticut buddies rooted for the Sixers during the Doctor J Era, then happened to be living in Orlando when the Magic came to town. Now he's a Magic fan. That's acceptable.
# One of your immediate family members either plays professionally or takes a relevant management/coaching/front office position with a pro team.
# You follow your favorite college star (and this has to be a once-in-a-generation favorite college star) to the pros and root for his team du jour ... like if you were a UNC fan for the past 20 years, and you rooted for the Bulls (because of MJ) and then the Raptors (because of Vince). Only works if there isn't a pro team in your area.
# The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore — you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge. Just for the record, I reached this point with the Boston Bruins about six years ago. When it happens, you have two options: You can either renounce that team and pick someone else, or you can pretend they're dead, like you're a grieving widow. That's what I do. I'm an NHL widow. I don't even want to date another team.
# If you're between the ages of 20-40, you're a fan of the Yankees, Cowboys, Braves, Raiders, Steelers, Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Canadiens and/or Oilers, and you're not actually from those one of those cities ... well, you better have a reason that goes beyond "When I was picking a favorite team as a kid, they were the best team, so I picked them."
Young New York fans
If you live in New York, you can't root for both the Yankees and Mets. Pick a side!
At least give me a reason like "Reggie Jackson was my favorite player growing up," or "I always liked the red Bulls uniforms," or even "Everyone in my gang wore Raiders colors." Do you really want to be known as a bona fide Bandwagon Jumper?
Minor similarities, if only in subject matter, but you can see how the one writer who penned the idea seven years ago might be a little annoyed that the other writer used a similar approach, given that they ride the same waves sometimes. In fact, one could say that a person who would do such a thing is lower than a crawlspace under a flounder's basement, even.