A picture worth a thousand words. Have you ever seen a better snapshot of what it is to be Buffalo? The rag tag bunch of us who admit to being part of the loosely defined ‘BillsMafia’ could probably pass this picture off as our own.
Faith, hearth and #OneBuffalo. What else is there?
Some interesting qualities define our unique collective personality as a #OneBuffalo fan base. If you tried to describe the average Dallas Cowboy fan, good luck. The Cowboys have a large global fan base represented by a city that barely existed 100 years ago.
On the other hand, with mostly a net migration OUT of Buffalo and very little IN, the WNY region reflects a group of people who have developed a unique personality as a community.
We are the descendants of a hearty group of hard working people who passed on a fiery brand of loyalty I’ve not experienced anywhere else from a community-at-large.
Western New Yorkers have thick skin for more reasons than keeping out the cold. Growing into adulthood during the 70s in Buffalo meant being collectively called the armpit of the east and to some extent deservedly so.
Being born in WNY means you are going to be a sports fan unless you find a way to break away from the addiction early in life. It’s as if our collective self esteem requires some sort of measurable proof that we matter.
What better way to exhibit our tribalism than beating each up on a grass field or an ice hockey rink to settle the score with a rival city?
However, after more than 100 seasons of hockey and football under our belt, we still haven’t reached the top of the mountain. And yet here we are, at the end of yet another losing season for the Bills feeling optimistic about the future.
How dare we?
Yes, we are a strange bunch. But I’m pretty sure most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s actually kind of fun being the subject of curiosity by other fan bases.
“How in the world do you Bills/Sabres fans do it?”, they ask like we’re some sort of new species.
At this point I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who wonders if losing has defined us so completely that winning actually creates more anxiety because it is such a strange feeling.
The good news is, we are on the precipice of enjoying playoff football with that familiar pleasant sense of detachment. I wasn’t prepared to deal with the shock of making the playoffs last season and still haven’t recovered.
It’s probably a good thing for elderly farts like myself to be eased back into the stress of watching the Bills play meaningful football in January. It’s shocking how hard on the body it is to go through that kind of excitement 20 years later.
The good news is no matter how strange the rest of the world sees us, the vast majority of BillsMafia remains one of the most interesting collective of people you could ever hope to meet. I honestly believe most other fan bases envy us because no other fan base has endured more suffering.
No doubt they secretly root for us because we’re not like Patriots fans :)
Editor’s babble: Thanks for reading our blog for another year. Honored to promote positive discussions for our FAMbase and looking forward to bringing you more in the New Year. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.