Homer

Homer’s Odyssey

“Homer”

Someone who shows blind loyalty to a team or organization, typically ignoring any shortcomings or faults they have.
“That guy is a total Broncos homer, they haven’t done anything good all season!”
by Scott F , www.urbandictionary.com

As noted in my Bio, I am a rabid Philadelphia Flyers fan. I admit, it’s probably to a fault. I am a hockey fan, and I love the sport in general, but I do find myself foraging for anything Flyers in most of my free time on the internet. Well at least initially. I can’t quite explain it, but something about the Orange and Black has my complete attention. I never really thought too much of it until I met one of my friends who happens to be a Montreal Canadiens fan. Much of our friendship is built around a solid foundation of mutual interests, but more than anything hockey seems to be at the core of a lot of things. We often get together at a local pub, usually while there is a game on (NHL/NFL/MLB…doesn’t really matter). We talk a lot of sports, but the conversation almost invariably will end up talking hockey. Regardless of anything else, we usually settle into a discussion of the Habs and the Flyers. At some point during the conversations, we usually have some sort of disagreement about a player/issue. I’ll offer my point, and my friends reply has a number times been to the tune of, “That’s because you are an unbelievable homer.” Which always gets me thinking. I know my friend doesn’t mean that as an end to the discussion, because many of our discussions go far beyond this, but I have thought long and hard about what this means.

 

Rocky
Photo by: United Artists (http://www.unitedartists.com/)

 

Influences

My childhood was spent being a Montreal Canadiens fan, but I will readily admit that I was more of a fan of Patrick Roy than I ever was of the team. I still remember watching the Stanley Cup Final in between the Los Angeles Kings and the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. I remember being excited about it, it was cool to see a team that you like win. In all honesty, how often does that really happen? (I know, I know Habs fans, we don’t all have the majesty of 24 Cups anchoring our arguments). Its very rare, so at the time, I was pretty excited about it. Then I found out as time went on, I didn’t really keep up with the Canadiens as much as I had. I suppose you could chalk it to being a teenager. They are very fickle years, and wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of people lose interest in their favourite sports team as things go along.

I feel like it was somewhere in between Grade 11 and 12 that I really started to notice the Flyers. I can’t remember the date, but I do remember going to a game at the Aud in Buffalo. They were facing the Flyers and it was right around when the “Legion of Doom” line was excelling. My memory isn’t serving me all that well, but I do know that I left that game with a new found appreciation for the Flyers. It was around this time that my father also decided to expose me to the films that he loved from the ’70s. One of my favourites from that run of films was Rocky. I watched the movie a number of times with my dad, and I do think the fact that it is placed in Philly likely made some sort of impression on me. For anyone that is a Flyers fan, I think that this goes without saying that Rocky is entrenched in the Flyers culture. Any Flyers home game you will hear the intro music from Rocky at one point or another. I usually note it in the 3rd period.

Another influence, I think, was the fact that I played both hockey and lacrosse. In both cases, I always liked playing both games because of the physicality. I’ve always been a fan of grind ‘em out hockey, and I absolutely love a big hit. To me, the Flyers have always been associated with that type of hockey. They have also been remembered for being the Broad Street Bullies. Which, like it or not, is at the very root of the Philadelphia Flyers. At the end of the day it kind of all fit together, and I have fully embraced being a Flyers fan.

 

Hanson
Photo by: Universal Pictures (http://www.universalpictures.com/)

 

Perceptions

I really don’t think any of us like to be perceived as biased or unfair. I think that is what has perplexed me with being considered a “homer”. When we cheer for a team, aren’t we supposed to cheer for them no matter what? That’s how I have always looked at it anyways. There are so many types of fans though. For some people its a simple as being a part of the city they live in. If you are from Toronto, you must love the Leafs; if you are from San Jose, you must love the Sharks, etc. Which I fully understand, and that makes sense. There are others whose allegiances are based on who has been the hot team recently (does anyone else notice all the LA Kings and Chicago BlackHawks hats everywhere they go?). Then there are others whose fandom is like a walking biography. The places they have lived dictates the teams they like. There are those that inherit the teams they love. At the end of the day, regardless of how you got there, aren’t we supposed to care a little (or a lot) more for the teams we are a fan of?

Which brings me to being called a “homer”. I have been labeled a Flyers “homer” by a number of people. Regardless of how people mean it, to me it always comes down to that when it comes to hockey, I see them first. Which is true. To me the very title evokes the sense that you are incapable of seeing anything else because of the love you have for your team. For myself anyways, I see the other side, but I just get very excited for the Flyers.

As for my friend that has bestowed that title on me, I feel he is every bit the “homer” that I am. He is a proud fan of the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. I have sat through many games in which he has explained the Habs traditions to me. On one particular occasion he explained to me the reason behind the torch being lit at centre ice. It was a very matter of fact conversation, but it was clearly a point of pride. I have gone to a Habs/Flyers game at the Bell Centre with Habs fans (my friend included) and was a part of one of the greater hockey experiences I have ever had (honestly if you haven’t gone to a Canadiens home game, put it on your bucket list). At that game, there was no question, the Montreal Canadiens are the only team that matters. Now the Flyers, like a lot of  other teams, just don’t have the history that the Canadiens do. However for me, and I’m sure countless other people, that is what their favourite team is. The team that matters.

 

Flyers Celebration
Photo by: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Cover Photo Credit: http://simpsons.wikia.com

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