Cleveland Against The World: While We're Waiting...

Much like vegans and crossfit-types, Clevelanders are really, really proud to be from Cleveland—and with good reason.

I've had this realization recently. You see, my brother Adam Rosen has been vegan for over five years. And vegans often have a known stereotype ... of making it fairly well known that they are vegan.

When I met up with a friend last month, she pointed out how I reminded her so much of How I Met Your Mother's Ted Mosby. No, it wasn't just my normal-ish looks or otherwise sorta bland personality. But it was about how much I talked about Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland. Within just five minutes of conversation, I was excitedly rambling about Cleveland sports, Cleveland family and friends, Cleveland facts. And I believe I’m not alone in that habit at all.

That's perhaps why LeBron James' character in the Amy Schumer Trainwreck movie resonated with us Northeast Ohioans so well. Through thick and thin, and through moves and job changes and life and wherever all that takes us, native Ohioans have a known habit of ... making it fairly well known that they are native Ohioans.

I've lived somewhat of a nomad's life over the past 21 months since I left my parent's house in Akron (the blogger's dream) for my MBA at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I then spent 10 weeks last summer in Charlotte. I've traveled a ton with the MBA program and to see friends. And I've now landed full time in New York City for good. One thing that has connected all of those different visits and part-time locales? Ohio-connected friends, Cleveland sports meetups and watch parties, and always introducing myself as a proud, bombastic and long-suffering Northeast Ohio sports fan. I’ve met up with Clevelanders everywhere. I’ve fought back against Cleveland perceptions everywhere.

Sports are important to us folks. It's different in the West Coast, where there is a more laidback culture and sports take on a secondary importance. It's different in the East Coast, where there are countless teams per metropolis and there's almost always at least one historic winner. And it's different in the South, where the teams often are newer, there might only be one team, and oh again, they've got some nice weather outside too.

Long-time Cleveland sports fans often have a lot in common with each other. Our worldview is shaped by a solid dosage of skepticism. We're loud and proud about our teams in person and on social media. We have an irrational sense of confidence about our teams and then, naturally, an irrational sense of affectionate hatred that typically follows.

Maybe this sports fan personality has contributed slightly to the national narrative of these Cleveland Cavaliers. Or maybe it is simply all just LeBron James' reputation from 15 years under the national spotlight. Or maybe it is simply all just the Golden State Warriors' on-court basketball beauty. But likely, some combination of these factors has indeed contributed to a seeming majority of non-involved fans preferring the team from Oakland.

This reality then only contributes to the jaded and combative mentality of the Cleveland sports fan, as personified by the "Ohio Against The World" T-shirt from last year's College Football Playoff. Nobody wants us. They don't believe in us. Insert your other favorite inspirational DJ Khaled quote. And this is happening on a national stage for a region that has gone 140-plus major professional sports seasons without a championship.

It should be illogical. Between the Warriors, Athletics and Raiders, let alone their nearby San Francisco neighbors, fans in the Bay Area have been spoiled by professional sports greatness. The national media sometimes complains of dynasties and yearns for parity , yet doesn't favor the Cleveland storyline in this instance. Maybe the recent Believeland 30 For 30 production shifted this ever so slightly. But it doesn't seem so.

But maybe we don't need the outside sympathy and favoritism. Maybe it's not necessary to get their approval. That'll only make the eventual title even sweeter and more viscerally joyful, together. Us Cleveland sports fans understand each other so well. So let’s enjoy this 2016 NBA Finals experience and soak it up for all it is worth. Together. 


Random assortment of links from the past few days as I’ve been traveling:

·        Austin Peters, Hardwood Paroxysm: 15 questions that will determine the NBA Finals between Warriors-Cavaliers

·        Ben Dowsett, Basketball Insiders: How Cavs Can Level NBA Finals Playing Field

·        Justin Rowan, Fear The Sword: NBA Finals: a guide for how the Cavaliers can beat the Warriors

·        Matt Moore, CBS Sports: Warriors face Cavaliers in NBA Finals rematch: 5 things to know

·        Zito Madu, SB Nation: Why LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo are listening to new coaches who have ‘played the game'

·        Anna Beyerle, The Cauldron: A Social Media Evaluation Of The NBA Conference Finals Teams

·        Chris Reichert, Upside & Motor: How close are we to having every NBA team with a D-League affiliate?

·        Jimmy Carlton, OnMilwaukee: Bucks hire stat-head blogger as analytics consultant; NBA Twitter jumps for joy

·        Michael Lopez, Stats By Lopez: Patriots fumbles, part 87

·        Clay Travis, Outkick The Coverage: ESPN Loses Another 1.5 Million Subscribers As Cord Cutting Accelerates

·        Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab: Chasing subscriptions over scale, The Athletic wants to turn local sports fandom into a sustainable business — starting in Chicago

·        Todd Spangler, Variety: Gawker Stumbles to Traffic Low as Political Sites See User Freefall

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