Last week, Adam Earnheardt was asked five questions regarding the Cleveland-Pittsburgh relationship in Youngstown, mainly focusing on Pittsburgh fans. This week, Jeff Tyus, an assistant professor in the department of communication at Youngstown State University, discusses the fanship around Cleveland.
Tyus, who lives in the Cleveland area, has been studying fandom and sports communication since 2005 — specifically Northeast Ohio fans since 2007.
Q) How have the fans in Cleveland treated the Indians reaching the playoffs along with the Browns’ winning streak? What were fans talking more about or was it the same?
A) The fans in Cleveland took a while to warm up to the Indians — primarily because many knew that they were missing some key pieces to becoming a truly playoff contending team. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely had a great season and deserved to have been respected more than they were throughout the season, but missing key pieces, like a true power bat(s) that is guaranteed to get you 20+ home runs and strike fear into the opponents, led to fans being more skeptical than convinced.
As far as the Browns winning streak is concerned, clearly it was unexpected. Fans had started to ride off this team after the big trade, even though there were a few like myself encouraging everyone to calm down. Now there is clearly optimism for a good season and finally a good future, but we’re still not talent rich, so it will take some time. I think the fans are truly beginning to realize that there are people in the front office of this organization that finally know what they are doing.
Q) For the first time in a long time, the Browns have a better record than the Steelers. Are fans more excited about the Browns’ success or the Steelers’ disappointments? Or is it equal?
A) There are some fans in Cleveland who are just as excited about the Steelers record as they are the Browns, but I would say most fans are focused solely on the success of the Browns and could care less about the Steelers until we’re ready to play them.
Q) Last week, Adam Earnheardt said Cleveland fans don’t know how to handle all of this success at once. Does he make a valid point?
A) I’m not sure what he means. There was a time when the Indians, Browns and Cavs were in the playoffs. Check 1994 to be exact. So this isn’t something new for the city and its fans. It’s something recent, but definitely not something new. In 2007, the Indians and Cavs were in the playoffs that year also. So I’m not sure what is meant by “don’t know how to handle all of this success at once.”
Q) Now that the Indians are over for six months, is there excitement about the upcoming NBA season?
A) There is some excitement for the Cavs because they are young and hungry. Furthermore, there are some intriguing key additions that might truly make them an exciting team to watch this year. While the media and some fans will be tuned into whether LeBron is coming back to Cleveland or not, most fans are focused on the current team and how well they succeed.
Q) Along with that, is there a lot of talk between fans regarding the LeBron James returning rumors? How are you handling this situation?
A) Personally, I am not getting involved in the drama associated with LeBron and his connection to Cleveland. I wasn’t glued to my TV during his last “Decision.” If he chooses to come back, cool! If he doesn’t, no problem! My life as a fan continues. When he left Cleveland, I continued to be a Cavs fan. It actually may have led to me loving the team even more. I don’t get too caught up in these sports personalities all like that. If they want to come play for my team, I’ll welcome them through my attendance at the games and watching them on TV. If they don’t, then I wish them well. I wish fans would stop propping them on pedestals and treating them like they are God’s gift to basketball — it’s actually quite ridiculous!