Image Credit: Washington Capitals
Image Credit: Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals are one win away from their first ever Stanley Cup Championship and the excitement is in the air around the DMV. From the suburbs of Northern Virginia to the Financial District of downtown D.C. and all the way to Baltimore City, Caps fans are hoping the team can bring the Cup to D.C. for the first time ever on Thursday as they get set for Game 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

But, like always, there has to be sticks in the mud to be the gate-keepers of the fanbase and try and ruin the fun for others. We see this all the time in sports, especially when a team gets good and the local support has historically been less than enthusiastic. We saw it first hand when the Orioles started playing well in 2012: crowd sizes started to rise, more fans tuned into games, and more tweets and Facebook posts were made about the team.

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Is any of this a bad thing? No; any support your favorite team gets should be welcomed and appreciated regardless if the person started rooting for them last week, last month, last year, or last decade.

Sports are fun, dammit and especially when your favorite team is winning it is an added bonus. Now sure, it can get annoying in certain aspects. The most prominent example I find myself complaining about is how crowded Orioles Fan Fest has become over the years since the O’s rise to prominence. Before the 2012 season, Fan Fest was virtually empty and many more things were available to do. I was even able to buy autograph vouchers a full week after they went on sale without the fear of them selling out.

But, once the team got good and made the playoffs; that when it became crazy. Vouchers sold out in minutes for autographs, lines flooded the convention center for any sort of activity or meet-and-greet opportunity with a player, etc.

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I guess the worst part of it all was that I had just wished that sort of support had always been there for the Orioles, even in the hard times but even I understand that is not fully possible.

Now, back to the subject at hand: gate-keeping a fanbase. I saw this term used on Twitter recently and immediately clung to it. Who am I to decide whether somebody should root for a team or not? Nobody, that’s who!

I have also been seeing a good amount of discussion recently about Capitals fans who happen to be from the Baltimore-metro area so I feel I should once again repeat my position on why I am a Capitals fan.

I am a hockey fan who just happens to be from an area that a professional team does not exist. The next closest team is the Capitals. This is how I became a Capitals fan. It is also the same reason I root for the Wizards when it comes to basketball; there is no NBA team in Baltimore so I will automatically go for the closest one in my case.

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I could not see myself rooting for the Flyers or 76ers and I do not mean that as a disrespect to anyone that chooses to that is from this area. I just have no personal ties to Philadelphia while I often visit D.C. and partake in many local events in and around the city, making it basically a second home outside of Baltimore. As for the prospect of rooting for a team like the Penguins? No, just…..no.

I just do not get the reason to come after fans of the Caps that happen to be from this area. What is gained from patronizing a person for picking a team to root for? Absolutely nothing. If anything, it just makes them more resentful of your team and fanbase for being that way.

I also see the argument that people have to root for either exclusively all Baltimore teams or all D.C. teams and I disagree with that so much. The logic I follow is that Baltimore has two teams that I root for in baseball and football so I pick the closest hockey and basketball teams to me to fill out the rest; those teams just happen to be from D.C. Nobody ever seems to bat an eye at Giants and A’s fans both rooting for the Warriors and Sharks despite the Sharks playing in neither Oakland or San Francisco and the Warriors playing in Oakland and moving to San Francisco in a few years.

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This whole argument/debate is just stupid and I am mad I have to explain myself to root for a damn hockey team. The moral of this story is that you should just let people enjoy things without giving your two cents. Let’s go Caps.

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