The Return of America’s Team

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The Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team because America cares about them. The uninitiated public knows who the Cowboys are. The world knows who the Cowboys are. Even the casual NFL fan seems to have an opinion about the team from Dallas. The Cowboys are in that rarefied realm of sports franchises that have become ingrained in popular culture. Like the Yankees, Lakers, and Manchester United, their logo and the stigma of the franchise represents more than just a group of athletes trying to win a game. People want to know whether they win or lose. It effects them.

For a crude measure of popularity, we can look to Facebook where the Cowboys beat out the Steelers by about 100,000 likes for the title of most-popular. If you want to get more detailed, scientists (Redskin and Steeler fan-scientists at that) have recently proposed that Cowboys fans are the most loyal in the NFL based off a formula that compares actual revenue to what a team should expect based off their performance.

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Despite 15 years of mediocre football we keep watching and buying merchandise. Some would call it stupidity – I call it love. There’s just something about this team that keeps us coming back. The paper’s authors proposed it has to do with the “football mad” Texas culture. But that doesn’t explain the Cowboys’ nation-wide, if not world-wide, pull. That’s how I got hooked. I grew up in Seattle, born and raised. My Texas-born Grandma liked the Cowboys but she lived half a country away. Again, it was just something about the team. Yeah, they were good. But that didn’t last long. Nonetheless, I’m still here. And so are you. Cheers for sticking around. This isn’t what I want to highlight in my argument though. Everyone knows the Cowboys have a ton of fans. That’s why people hate them.

The Haters. That’s what I care about. For every fan that roots for the Cowboys there seems to be another that pulls for the loss. They love the sight of Romo throwing an interception in the end-zone to end the season. To them, the fact that the Cowboys are losing is a sign that things are right in the Universe.

Usually the argument goes that the Cowboys are America’s Team because of their fans. But why should we only count those that root for the Cowboys when judging whether or not they are America’s Team? If you get happy when the Cowboys lose, doesn’t that mean you have an interest in them? NFL fans can talk all they want about hating Dallas, but they wouldn’t enjoy the league as much without them around. There’s a reason Cowboys games consistently receive the highest TV ratings. It’s the same reason why the team is opening up the season on Sunday Night Football. People love watching them play. Whether they’re rooting for or against the team with the Star on the side of the helmet doesn’t matter.

Nearly two decades after any notable post-season success the Cowboys continue to drive discussion, speculation, and general interest. America’s team shouldn’t be the one everybody seems to love (Green Bay). Neither should it be one that has simply won the most (Pittsburgh). And don’t get started about the new dynasty (New England). America’s team should be the one that Americans care about the most. And the Cowboys hold that undisputed crown when you add together their fans and enemies.

When they open their 2013 season tonight against the Giants, America will be watching. And America will care.