As an undergrad at Texas Tech, a friend approached me after a big win by the football team.
“We did it,” he said with a childish grin more suited for Disney World than a college campus.
His T-shirt was faded scarlet red with our school’s name in black block letters across the chest. I’m pretty sure it was the same one he had worn to the game two days earlier.
I was at the game, and so I knew which team won, of course. But I still had to ask him “What did you do?”
I expected him to tell me that he had won some sort of all-expenses-paid trip to New Mexico or that his intramural softball team got its first win.
“We beat Texas!” he proclaimed with the air of pride worn by a camera-happy father at his child’s piano recital.
Sure, beating the then-No. 4 Longhorns was a big deal. Heck, I even joined my friends as they rushed the field after that game.
But that was the only time my friend was ever on the field at Jones Stadium, so why was he taking ownership of the win?
His use of this plain plural pronoun — “We” — is something many sports fans are afflicted with. The word gives the sense that they are actually a part of their favorite team.
But unless you’re wearing the uniform or are paid by the organization, you should not be allowed to We freely.
But few people actually abide by that rule. Watch a game with an avid Royals fan and you’re sure to hear them say something such as, “We need a run here so we don’t get shut out.”
Or sit near some alumni at an MU football team and listen as they decide that “We have a really easy schedule this season.”
So this might make you wonder if you should be free to We. There’s a simple distinction between those who can We and those who should not We.
For example, if you wear a Stefhon Hannah jersey while you make baskets for the Tigers, you can We.
If you wear a Stefhon Hannah jersey while you collect shopping baskets in the parking lot, you shouldn’t We.
If you hand out bottles of water to the team during an MU football game, go ahead and We.
If you hand out bottles of beer to your buddies during an MU football game, it’s best if you don’t We.
I think you get the idea.
I understand that some people may feel like they have some sort of association with their favorite team.
Sure, they buy season tickets, T-shirts and foam fingers that together make up a fraction of a percent of the total operating costs of the organization. But you’re not a shareholder, and your favorite team isn’t a publicly traded organization.
Yes, you cheer loudly at home games, curse at your television during road games and maybe even vote in a fan poll on your team’s Web site, but you’re not calling the plays, and you’re not there at practice to know the context behind decisions.
So the team isn’t really a We to you.
Even though we We because we care, it doesn’t make it right.
Would the world be a better and more accurate place if we We’d less?