John F. Russell: Loyalty takes a back seat


John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Tuesdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email

Find more columns by John here.

If you're born in Denver, you are supposed to be a Broncos fan.

I learned this early in my life. Since then, I've hated the Raiders, looked up to John Elway and realized an orange sweatshirt isn't ugly if you're making a Sunday afternoon fashion statement.

Like so many other people in Denver, I was raised to be a die-hard Broncos fan. Some people were born with talent, some people were born smart and others were born to be wild. Me, I was born to be a Broncos fan.

Growing up in Denver, I realized I wasn't alone. It doesn't seem to matter if the team loses the big game, frustrates you in the playoffs or just plain disappoints - the fans always seem to come back.

I can't explain why I'm such a big fan except to say I was born in Denver. In my world, loyalty was decided by fate, not by choice.

Everyday across the country, fans learn to love their team based on the same principles. Parents and others in communities pass on their love or hate for other teams, based on their own experience. How else can you explain those insane Brett Favre fans in Green Bay, the dedicated Red Sox fans in Boston and the allegiance Detroit has for the Red Wings?

This type of loyalty stretches from high school stadiums in Texas to college campuses in Indiana, Florida and Iowa.

But sometimes life throws us a curve that proves the rules of loyalty are not absolute.

If the rules were absolute, Steamboat swimmer Cole Worsley, who finished second in the 50-yard freestyle, and Kyle Steitz would not have represented Moffat County High School this week at the Colorado High School State Swimming Championships in Fort Collins. They're Sailors.

The two Steamboat swimmers set aside their own personal feelings to pursue a state title for a rival school. By joining the Moffat County team, they proved it's possible to set aside an engrained prejudice one high school might feel for another and to overcome a long-standing rivalry.

I'm happy to say it's a trend that is growing in area high schools where baseball players from Soroco played for Steamboat Springs this spring, and players from Hayden joined the Moffat County team.

I understand the loyalty Sailors, Bulldogs, Rams and Tigers feel for their schools -remember I'm a Broncos fan.

I will always enjoy watching the Raiders lose, and don't expect me to start crying if the Chiefs and Chargers get beat.

But when it comes to prep sports, I applaud the efforts of young athletes who overcome barriers to pursue the sports they love - even if it means joining a rival school's team.

When you live in a place as remote as Northwest Colorado, there are times when the rules of loyalty just don't fit.

I may have been born a Broncos fan, and during the years, I've learned to be a Sailors fan, but for a couple of days this week, I'm proud to say I rooted for Moffat County and the world didn't end.

Who would have guessed?


pattiworsley 9 years, 10 months ago

As the coach of the Moffat County Boys High School Swim Team, it
has been a pleasure to coach the boys from Moffat County and Steamboat. The school staff and students at MCHS have always made the swimmers from Steamboat feel right at home. Thanks you MCHS. Patti Worsley MCHS Boys Swimming Coach


madmoores 9 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for a great article. I believe it is called sportsmanship and it is sorely lacking in a lot of other arenas, especially professional sports. Considering the local rivaly(vicious at some points)that has existed for as long as I can remember, it is a noble move on these kid's part to play for another team. Others should take note and learn that this is what sports is all about and bottom line is that it's only a game, or a meet, depending on your sport. Great job Sailor and Bulldog swimmers for putting your pride in the back seat and stepping in to help out the other guy. You should be proud of yourselves, we are.


Hammurabi 9 years, 10 months ago

Hash, you totally missed the point of this. Steamboat does not offer swimming as a school sport. The Steamboat swimmers still attend school here, but are allowed to swim, a sport that they are dedicated to, with the Moffat High School so that they can compete during the school year. What's so abusive about that? I find it rather admirable that we can field a competitive regional team that benefits the entire valley. Congratulations to all the team!


fish 9 years, 10 months ago

Hash, you apparently don't have kids in any of the school systems in the area. To bad you don't ask questions first.


madmoores 9 years, 10 months ago

Did I miss something? I don't recall reading anything about "stuffing socks" anywhere within this article. I presume you are refering to something else?


dogd 9 years, 10 months ago

General Notice about Hash:

Guy owns house in North Routt. He is endlessly impressed with that fact. But he doesn't really live here.

He flunked Steamboat 101 when he was here.

He hasn't grasped the first principle of condescension which is that you have to be above somebody for it to work.

He is an omniverous critic even outside his apparent area of expertise which is military airplanes and the absolutely comprehensive superiority of anybody who used to drive them.


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