Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My state senator's message to Jets fans.

I got to know Daniel Squadron (photo above) early in his campaign to become state senator from my district, and was able in a small way to help him win the Democratic primary against a thirty year incumbent. For this, my reward was four days in Buffalo. I later attended his swearing in ceremony in Albany and have kept in touch with him and his staff since. Today, I got a message from his chief of staff that impressed me greatly. In the aftermath of the Jets' defeat by the Steelers in yesterday's AFC championship game, Senator Squadron declared himself a Jets fan. Given that New York has two NFL teams, that was an act of political courage. What impressed me more is what he posted on ESPN's website, which included the following:
To be a Jets fan is to be a believer. It’s to ignore the conventional wisdom or the odds, even logic. If you can wake up each Jets game day believing that this time will be different ... well, you can wake up believing anything. Jets fans start each season believing in the infinite possibility of a changed future. We begin each game believing in the limitless opportunity to shake off past failures and make today the beginning of something new and special.
Inspiring words, indeed. And it struck me how true they would also be if you substituted an "M" for every "J" in that passage. Could the Senator also be a Mets fan? It would be in character to root for both "-ets" teams, both underdogs with long histories of breaking their fans' hearts.

But for a New York City politician, at least one whose district does not lie entirely in Brooklyn or Queens (Squadron's includes lower Manhattan as well as a small part of Brooklyn), to come out as a Mets fan would be uncommon valor. There isn't nearly the intensity of contempt between Giants and Jets fans as there is between Yankees and Mets partisans. Yankee fans are a majority in three of the five boroughs, which is why Rudy Giuliani could proclaim his Yankee loyalty without endangering his chances in citywide elections, and why Hillary Clinton made the claim that she had "always been a Yankee fan", which she quickly qualified by saying she was a Cubs loyalist, but the Bombers were her favorite AL team.