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