This essay, which likens supporting a sports team supporting a sports team to being in an abusive relationship, struck a chord with me even though I care little about pro sports. But what about you?
Imagine a girl. Very pretty, a joy to be around, and a nice person that is kind to animals and people alike. She’s a good person, and deserves a good boyfriend, someone who is nice and kind to her.
She has a boyfriend. But he sucks. He makes her pay for everything. When they do something, he tells her what they’re going to do, never asks what she want to do, and never makes any accommodations to her wishes. He only pays attention to her when he wants something out of her, but when she needs something, he is totally unresponsive. He relentlessly lies to her, and is transparently dismissive of their relationship and her as a person. He makes important decisions that impact her without asking her, or consulting her or even considering what she wants. He takes her completely for granted, and almost seems like he holds her in contempt. In essence, he treats her like garbage. Yet, she worships him and supports him no matter what.
What would you tell her? You’d say what any reasonable person would say: What the hell is wrong with you? Why are accepting this? You can do better. He’s not worth it, there are so many other great guys out there who won’t treat you so badly, stop putting up with this.
Now, think about this: If you are a devoted fan of a pro sports team, you have the exact same relationship…with that team.
You are the girlfriend, the team is the boyfriend, and they don’t give a shit about you, and you love them anyway.
TTAC writers and readers are accused of bias at every turn. Sometimes, they are flagrant trolls looking to incite discord, but other times the accussations are made in earnest by people who do contribute valuable insights to Planet TTAC.
As far as favoring one car company over another, I feel exactly the same way the author does with sports teams; no matter how much companies try to “engage” their clients, whether they are paying customers or automotive journalists, they are ultimately after your money, and everything else is secondary.
Sure, there are individual models I prefer in any given segment, and there are legions of dedicated, hard-working people working to make the best cars possible, but that does not detract from the end goal; make money by selling more cars than the other guys.
As the author eloquently puts it
“Stop and really look at it, especially if you are really intense about your team. Why do you buy their gear? Or emotionally invest in their results? Why do you put so much effort into them? Why do you identify with them…when they don’t give a fuck about you? In what other arena of your life would you accept such incredibly awful abuse and one-sided loyalty?”
In light of this view, it strikes me as absurd when TTAC is accused of any sort of bias. Personally, I have other things to invest my emotions in, like human relationships for one. And I’ve always felt that the attachment of one’s identity to any sort of tangible manufacturer element, like a genre of music, a style of dress or worst of all an automotive brand, is modern day tribalism at best, a pathetic desire to belong to a group at worst.
Ask someone why they love one car company unconditionally, spending hours arguing on the internet about its supremacy or defending it from critics when discussing cars with their social circle and their reasons are often flimsy. “My Dad had one” or “We’re a [insert brand here] family” are among the more concrete ones. It’s not for nothing that “fanboys” are the butt of online jokes for some car guys. Most of these people just want confirmation that what they bought was the right choice. Others exhibit Salafist-like fanatical affiliation to a faceless entity that doesn’t care a lick about them beyond their pocketbook.
But then, maybe you’re someone like Mikey, who has worked at a plant for 30 years and feels immense loyalty to an auto maker. Or you might just love to accuse us of hating General Motors and watching our reaction.