Grin and Bear It: The Boston Bruins "Attack Ad" and How Lightning Fans Should React

TAMPA, FL - MAY 03: Fans show their apprecaition to goaltender Dwayne Roloson #35 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in his game against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at St Pete Times Forum on May 3, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Capitals 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

"Who Has Better Fans?" is one of the most inane debates in all of sports. It's an utterly unwinnable argument, which means it's not worth fighting in the first place, but it's guaranteed to get people fired up so it's a staple of most sports talk radio programs and quite a few blogs.

And that's fine; there is a certain amount of guilty pleasure and satisfaction that comes from arguing for the sake of arguing. But it's important to try to retain a sense of perspective. 

The basic argument usually follows this standard template:
  • (Your city here) is terrible because the fans stink.
  • Oh yeah? Well at least we don't/didn't (insert reference to specific incident{s} of bad behavior here)
  • That's because you don't (insert statistical comparison, accurate and verifiable or completely made-up, of the two cities home game attendance here).
  • We have great fans, it's just that (insert excuse, valid or otherwise, for not selling out every home game)
  • You people are stupid.
  • No, you're stupid.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat

There are variations and it can go on much longer (much, much, much longer) but you get the basic idea. If you find yourself engaged in one of these battles, your opponent will try to convince you that in their city, everybody wears team jerseys to work and that their morning commute takes forever because everyone spends so much time high-fiving each other. Don't buy into that for a minute. With the possible exception of Green Bay, Wisconsin, there is no sports team's market populated that densely with diehards. In fact, aside from Green Bay and Philadelphia (which is ineligible for inclusion because many of those who attend sporting events there can't legally be classifed as human beings), every place is more or less the same; comprised of roughly the same impossible-to-measure percentages of fanatics and frontrunners.

Which brings us to the Boston Bruins so-called "attack ad" aimed against fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning that was unveiled just prior to the Eastern Conference Finals. If you're not familiar, it's a billboard that says simply:

"The Loch Ness Monster. Big Foot. Tampa Bay Lightning Fans." 

Get it? They're implying we don't exist! Oh, the insult! The outrage! The ignominy of it all! How do we respond? First things first, we should laugh. Because unlike the standard, stupid arguments over which fans are better (see above), that's actually kind of clever and pretty funny. As far as insults go, you can't possibly take it seriously. You do know you exist, right? If you're not sure, pinch yourself. Then pinch another Lightning fan, just to be sure (make sure he or she is cute first and if something comes from that, well, you're welcome).

Besides, how do they know Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster aren't real? A discussion over the presumed existence of thought-to-be mythical beings that choose not to manifest themselves physically upon demand is probably better left to blogs of a more spiritual nature, but the Boston Bruins marketing department doesn't know everything. Just sayin'. 

Plus they're letting us off relatively easy. This is what their billboards said about Flyers fans:

"Never, ever date a Flyers fan. Even if she shaves her mustache."

So what do we do? Turn the other cheek? Ignore them so they leave us alone? Stay classy? Well, of course not. What's the fun in that? No, we retaliate in kind, rising (or stooping) to whatever levels necessary to make our point. Now, unfortunately I haven't thought the whole thing through enough to offer suggestions as to how to accomplish that. But I have faith that there are creative people out there who will come up with something.

All I know is if there isn't at least one person dressed as Big Foot at Thursday's game, well, then maybe we are bad fans.

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