And it’s a fair point. In smaller, more provincial burghs, you might find media members rallying ’round the local sportsmen and women in a slightly different way. Rooting for the local team, in those places, is like rooting for the local grocery store, or the local Chamber of Commerce, or the local high school marching band. It would be cruel to do otherwise.
Washington, though, is a big, tough, East Coast town, where media members are trained to be skeptical and objective. Sure, we recognize that success among the local teams will increase interest, and thus increase our prominence, and thus help the bottom line. You can root for Washington to prosper as a sports town without surrendering your basic neutrality. And maybe, if you study our written words or scripts super closely, you might find hints of minor sympathy — at least for the fans, if not for the teams. We might not be fans, but we’re surely friends with hundreds of them.
Still, we big-city folk do not engage in the same rituals as some of our small-town peers. We don’t cross over into out-and-out cheerleading. We keep any enthusiasm mostly buttoned-up, although we might throw a few exclamation marks into our prose or a few smiles into our TV spots.
Covering sports isn’t exactly like covering news, after all. But there’s a difference between genial sympathy and active cheering.
I know, I know, fans don’t agree with this. And maybe the media’s stance is outdated and silly. Maybe we all should just jump over that line. We live in Washington, and our allegiance is to Washington, and we want Washingtonians to be happy. So why would we try to stave off the trappings of fandom?
I’m not sure that I have a great answer. All I know is I hear the complaint from fans that D.C. is tough on its teams, and they’re probably not wrong. This isn’t Omaha. This isn’t Little Rock. This isn’t Spokane, Wash. This is Washington, the capital of the free world, one of the centers of journalism, an unsentimental and sometimes brutal place. And so, yes, the local coverage might be a bit tougher here. You’ll have to forgive us.