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Boston Vies For 3rd Major Sports Title In A Year As Bruins Compete For Stanley Cup


A warning to listeners - this next story may induce nausea in some sports fans outside Boston. As the Bruins and the St. Louis Blues face off tonight in a Stanley Cup Final, Boston is also vying to become the first city in nearly a century to hold three major sports titles at the same time. The Red Sox and the Patriots, you may recall, are already reigning champs. As NPR's Tovia Smith reports, the prospect of a third title is fueling fans' already-outsized egos in Boston and fueling eye-rolls elsewhere.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: It's almost hard now to remember Boston fans as those long-suffering lovable losers, like 49-year-old Adam Weitzman, who's endured endless seasons of traumatizing losses and the Red Sox's 86-year Curse of the Bambino.

ADAM WEITZMAN: You know, it's hard to root and lose all the time; it really is, you know?


A WEITZMAN: (Laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: But also, like, you know...

SMITH: For 17-year-old Mark Weitzman, being a Boston fan now is a whole new ballgame.

A WEITZMAN: Oh, yeah.

SMITH: Cheering the B's from their basement, Dad and Mom watch on the edge of their seats when the Bruins start trailing, but Mark kicks back on the couch with the confidence and even cockiness of a guy whose short life has spanned six Super Bowls, four World Series, one NBA championship and one Stanley Cup so far.

MARK WEITZMAN: There's time on the clock; we can score. You know, last game they won 7 to 2.

A WEITZMAN: There we go.

M WEITZMAN: Oh, that was a good hit.

SMITH: Such is the new normal for Bostonians born in this giddy era of 12 championships in 17 years. Mark readily admits that he's...

M WEITZMAN: Spoiled, yes.

SMITH: Even entitled. Boston fans actually griped this year when their Celtics only got to the NBA semifinals. And in what may be the ultimate humble brag, Mark says the thrill of victory is actually now starting to wear thin.

M WEITZMAN: And now it's just like - it's pretty good.

A WEITZMAN: (Laughter).

SMITH: Fan fatigue is less an issue with older Bostonians who have lived feast and famine and still savor every win.

JIM HOLZMAN: That's like, is there too much chocolate cake? I mean, no, I don't think so.

SMITH: Jim Holzman is CEO of Ace Ticket and one of those Boston fans milking it. He's been buying billboards between titles faux-bemoaning such a long drought. One of them says...

HOLZMAN: Go Bruins; there's four-month-old Bostonians who have never seen a championship (laughter).

SMITH: That kind of gloating plus the endless championship parades in New Ringland or Title Town, as Boston fans like to say, is what makes them so insufferable to so many others.

TED BERG: It still feels like there's this, like, well, now, see? See? See? Like, they still need to rub it in your face that they're finally winning.

SMITH: USA Today sports writer Ted Berg, a lifelong New York fan, wrote a column ranking Boston fans the nation's most hateable.

BERG: It's that chip on the shoulder. It's just that unnecessary attitude - you know, it's not we won; it's we beat you.

SMITH: He thinks Boston still suffers from a deep-seated inferiority complex, as does Yoni Kadden, a diehard New York fan who's suffering his own kind of curse now living in Boston where fans will chant Yankees suck even at a hockey game.

YONI KADDEN: What is wrong with these people?

SMITH: But what really gets under Kadden's skin are those Boston T-shirts boasting they hate us 'cause they ain't us.

KADDEN: No, that's not why we hate you, by the way; no, we hate you because you're obnoxious.

SMITH: Boston fans say, don't bet on an attitude adjustment anytime soon. Fans have gone all in hoping Boston wins not only the Stanley Cup but also a place in the record books for the winningest year and the winningest streak of any city in modern sports history. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Title Town. I mean Boston.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEW ORDER'S "THIEVES LIKE US") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.