Anyone who's been to Boston knows how much sports are a part of our identity as locals. There is a connection to the local brands unlike any other sports city in the country. Being born in Boston is to automatically be born into generations of heartbreak and elation, failures and successes. Whether you're a fan of the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots, the Boston Celtics or the Boston Bruins, it's there with you for life, something you'll pass onto future children.
I'm nearly 30 years old, and I fully understand this concept. My grandfather had season tickets with his brother for the New England Patriots. My dad grew up a Pats fan, having been barely six years old when the old American Football League formed. At a time when most NFL fans were New York Giants fans up here, the Patriot fan blood rooted itself in my family, and my dad cursed me with stories of how Bob Gladieux suited up after tailgating in the parking lot for a game and how the toilets at Foxboro Stadium were both eight feet off the ground and overflowed.
For many, it's the Red Sox. You often hear the stories about how, in 2004, Red Sox fans ran out and spent all their money on merchandise just to put at gravestones of their departed loved ones. It's something that dates back to ancient times, back nearly 100 years, and is as part of our fabric as anything else. I'm still convinced David Ortiz could run for mayor and win in a landslide.
So I'll never understand why there's an urge for Boston College fans to try and compete or line up the Eagles against those in competition.
BC will never be able to topple those sports allegiances. Taking teams like the New England Revolution totally out of the equation, that type of rooted allegiance just, quite simply, doesn't happen overnight. And with the amount of competition, I don't think Boston College should be trying to overtake all of that. They should, instead, be trying to work with that, something that they're already doing. It's a question and debate we constantly have, and it's one, hopefully, we can turn the corner on.
When you look around at the different areas of the sporting life in Boston (ok...and Foxboro), you'll see just how BC has a leg up and is already tied into these areas. In 2014, Boston College played a football game at Gillette Stadium against UMass. It was a rousing success as the Eagles booed the Minutmen off their "home field."
For the better part of the decade, the hockey team's played outdoor games on Fenway Park. The Beanpot is played at TD Garden, as is the Hockey East semifinals and finals. The basketball team played a number of games at the TD Garden as well through the years.
The baseball Beanpot this year was at Fenway with the Eagles celebrating on the fabled lawn after one of their players launched a homer over the Green Monster. The Eagles even play the Boston Red Sox annually as part of the Olde Towne Team's spring training, this year highlighted as a tribute for Pete Frates.
Mile 21 of the Boston Marathon is considered one of the best party atmospheres because it runs through Boston College.
BC hasn't been competing for the almighty dollar against the city of Boston and its sports teams, so trying to say they're a distant sixth or seventh or eighth behind everyone is unfair. BC is instead capitalizing on their ability to associate with those teams in a way that other schools simply can't. That allows them to compete at both a regional and national level with a marketing scheme that's closely tied to some of the strongest brands in all of sports.
Last year's video board intro late in the season was a great video pitting Boston College alongside the various successes of the local pro sports scene. It went right in line with a message from Brad Bates last year talking about how BC embraces its status alongside that scene, even though everyone and their uncle knows the Eagles aren't the top draw in town.
I think it genuinely gets lost that Boston College is competing against the rest of the ACC and other national collegiate entities. BC can offer something no other city can - a full slate of successful professional teams. Georgia Tech, Miami, and Pittsburgh can all offer some type of professional atmosphere, but it's not as rich nor as woven into the fabric of the region like the major sports up here (Pittsburgh can tie it in with the Steelers and Penguins, but they lack an NBA team and the baseball team was a laughingstock for the last 20 years).
It's something other ACC schools play off. They routinely dump on BC for not being the only show in town. But we shouldn't be hanging our heads about how our fans aren't like Clemson fans or Virginia Tech fans. We should be embracing the fact that Tom Brady won four Super Bowls up here, that David Ortiz reminded us who's city this really was in 2013, and that PK Subban is really a horrible human being. We should embrace BC as part of a greater landscape of colleges, even though none of those colleges have athletics cultures that match the high level at The Heights.
If you point out that basketball and football struggled recently, remember BC's supremacy pre-Spaz and Donahue. Northeastern dropped football and is a mid-major. Harvard only surged in basketball while football can't touch the ACC. BU threw every single one of their eggs into hockey years ago and, while a "traditional hockey power," still haven't matched BC's success since 2000.
Because of that, it's an association we should welcome and embrace. Boston College is the only big time college sports entity in town. As fans, we shouldn't ever try to compete against those entities. Instead, we should embrace them as something to build BC upon, an opportunity even if you're not a fan of the Red Sox or the Celtics or the Patriots or the Bruins. No other ACC school gets to routinely play as often as BC does in the arenas of the pro teams. It doesn't mean we should be playing every game in their venues, but from a marketing standpoint, it makes sense to exploit the relationship as often as possible to make it the foundation of the next wave of Eagles success.