I have always wondered why there is such a big debate about certain teams that do not play in New York State which are not named for the city they play in. I have heard countless people say that the Giants and the Jets are not “New York” teams because they play in New Jersey. If we break that down even further, they play in East Rutherford, N.J. Hey…How do those East Rutherford Giants sound? Or, should we just widen the net and call the other team the New Jersey Jets?
What I believe causes this confusion is that almost all teams are named after the largest city they play near. Historically this has always been the case, except for some newer teams that have decided that they want to represent the entire state. Those teams are few and far between. You have the Colorado Rockies, Tennessee Titans, Florida Panthers (which should be changed soon to the Miami Panthers like the Marlins did a couple of years ago), Minnesota Vikings and a few others.
By in large, sports teams are named for the city, and more specifically, the television audience they serve. People in Northern New Jersey root for the Giants, Jets, Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Devils, Knicks and Nets. The folks in Southern New Jersey, specifically the Cherry Hill region on the river’s bank of Pennsylvania, root for the Philadelphia sports teams such as the Eagles, Flyers, 76ers, and Phillies.
So, why are the people in the Northern New Jersey always complaining that the Giants and Jets should change their names to reflect New Jersey, or more specifically, the Newark or East Rutherford Giants and Jets?
The answer is simple. Giants and Jets represent the “city” of New York and not the state of New York. Those of us, like me, who live in this area call it the Tri-State region. The “primary city” that surrounds the Tri-State region is New York City. People confuse New York City with New York State. It is understandable since this is the only major American city that has New York in its city and state’s name.
We New Yorkers have as much in common to Buffalo, N.Y. as we do to Columbus, Ohio. They both have the same driving distance from NYC, but the people and culture are world’s apart. The states are not what divide us, they are the cities that do. In fact, New Yorkers are closer to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Boston than they are to Buffalo, N.Y.
When I hear New Yorkers who are fed up with the Jets, some even contemplate changing their allegiance to the Buffalo Bills. Really? They never eventually do it. However, for a fleeting moment it enters the front cortex of their brain.
So, when we really think about it, we are defined by our major cities despite where we primarily live, work or play. It is the glue that makes us one. It is the culture that we share.
So next time someone asks the question, “Why are the New York Giants not named the New Jersey Giants,” reply that it is the same reason why the Washington Redskins are not named the Maryland Redskins. That should end this debate once and for all.
What do you have to say?