When I began my search for colleges back in 2012, I developed certain criteria for what I wanted in my future school. I knew I wanted to attend a smaller school; I would feel lost and overlooked at a big state school. I wanted a school in a suburban setting where I could easily access the city without having to deal with the hubbub of daily city life. I wanted to stay relatively close to home, within a three-hour radius by car. There was a whole list of standards on which I based my college search, and Eastern fit each one and then some: the campus was beautiful, and I had the opportunity to openly grow in my faith.
However, soon after moving into my dorm and beginning my life at Eastern in the fall of 2013, I noticed a glaring flaw in the criteria I used to choose a college: I realized I was part of the minority sports fandom. I moved far enough away from home that I was no longer surrounded by the camaraderie of Baltimore fans that was so deeply a part of my identity. At home I was blind to the privilege of being a part of the majority. At Eastern I quickly formed bonds with anyone I met sporting an Orioles hat or a Ravens jersey. I coped by clinging to my roots and becoming more intentional about expressing my Baltimore pride.
I faced many challenges as I adjusted to life outside of the Baltimore zone. The local stations didn’t play my favorite teams, and I was only able to catch random games here and there. I had to find new ways to support my teams. During baseball season I subscribe to the At Bat app and listen to Orioles games on the radio. During football season I try my best to budget time on Sundays to watch the Ravens at a sports bar. At the very least ESPN has the courtesy of sending play-by-play updates to my phone, and I can count on my dad to give me an update whenever I’ve missed a game.
Though I still cringe each time I spot someone wearing a Roethlisberger jersey, I have become more open to the idea of cherishing your home team, even if we’re not rooting for the same team. Although I certainly hold my sports team prejudices (and I will refrain from calling each of them out), I could never fault a person for supporting their home team. Rooting for my teams as part of the minority has only increased my devotion to my beloved Baltimore teams.
As strange as it has been to adjust to sports life away from home, attending college has only made me more appreciative of home teams. I have loved meeting new friends from all over the country and hearing about their love for their home teams. Philadelphia teams will never replace the love I have for my home teams, but living near Philly has given me a greater appreciation for rooting for the home team (free coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts when the Eagles win is also a good incentive). I appreciate the devoted Eagles fans on campus, and I smile at the smorgasbord of jerseys I see in the Dining Commons during Sunday brunch. Although most people I’ve met don’t root for the same teams as me, I share with many friends a passion for our home teams—and that is a beautiful thing.