You aren’t a Coloradan until you’ve experienced life as a suffering Rockies fan

The argument between Coloradans and transplants is heating up as the Denver Metro Area continues to evolve. As a native Coloradan, I know that it’s our Rockies fandom that divides us into categories. Also, Coloradans are supposed to be nice.

In the streets of LoDo, a culture war is being fought over the soul of the Mile High City. While this might sound like hyperbole, ask anyone in Denver. They will give you an emotionally charged opinion on Denver’s changes. One question to ask both natives and transplants, what makes a true Coloradan?

The dividing line isn’t really between native-born citizens and recent transplants. It’s not weed culture vs. mountain culture. The line is not luxury apartments against established neighborhoods. It’s not even if you know how to drive in the snow.

To me, the dividing line is if you have suffered as a Colorado Rockies fan.

The Denver Broncos are in the blood of every person in the state of Colorado. They’re a required rooting interest for the state—even if you hate sports.

However, the suffering of being a Rockies fan is something you choose to do. It’s a deeper commitment to the Mountain West identity.

The mobs will reign down on Coors Field in the thousands supporting the Chicago Cubs next week. A phenomenon also felt for the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and American League teams. World Series Champion Cubs fans may now behave like entitled Blackhawks’ fans. Not so fast with those “Go Cubs Go” chants.

Colorado has its own baseball suffering. Coloradans should not rush to judgment over the transplants in the city, but visiting fans should be courteous. We built this house for you.

Baseball in Colorado is privilege. Those who were around for the fight to get a Major League Baseball team here know it wasn’t easy. Attendance records for MLB belong to Denver back when they played in the old Mile High. We love the sport here. We just have a franchise history of brief great moments sprinkled with poor results.

You make a pledge as a Coloradan. You will fight for legitimacy in a sport that doesn’t respect you. That’s the burden a Rockies fan must carry. In the same way we have to deal with the scaled down versions of that “great city” you moved away from.

The Rockies are not respected. Because of altitude, there are baseball writers who think that Colorado should lose its team. They won’t consider the athletic achievements of Rockies, even when faced with advanced stats. Not only do they not understand the humidor, they don’t understand that Coors Field affects the visitors and Rockies equally.

When the Rockies made the World Series in 2007—a number of national commentators didn’t know the team plays in Coors Field and not Mile High Stadium. When the Rockies were good in 2010, the Giants convinced baseball the Rockies were cheating. This fight is not about to change—we have to fight for the right to play ball here.

In this landscape, Denver has changed. The people that relocate from all over the country have come with their own agendas. They want to make Denver a luxury city full of nice buildings, restaurants and amenities. They are pushing their own visions of grandeur on the city.

And sometimes it’s made me angry. I can see the frustrations that make natives bully recent transplants. Cherry Creek is no longer the neighborhood I grew up loving. The infestation of pot shops and reverence to beer culture has brought in a new “trendy” crowd. Gentrification is taking away some of the city’s heritage. People are trying to make Denver the next big thing.

Here’s a secret—it’s not working. Denver will never be the place that competes with the East Coast Culture, the fame of Hollywood, the innovation of Silicon Valley or the commerce of Chicago. Other people can force their ideas on us, but you can’t change the spirit of this place—Coloradans are enduring. We’re here for a connection to the Mountain West and no trend can change that.

Colorado is a place of open spaces, energy and mountains. We’re going to support a team like the Rockies. We have nice people. We should probably start being nicer to the transplants as well.

Think about it—when Coors field was built, downtown was not a safe place. Every year, LoDo becomes more of a destination. Union Station is no longer a place for transients to sleep. You’re more likely to see a pedal cab than a petty thief around Blake Street. We are no longer called a Cow Town (most of the time).

I get what people are trying to protect, but we’re also seeing a transformation in what already made Denver great. Coors Field has matured into a destination ballpark. Even if you have to go higher in the stadium to see the mountains and fight the party deck beer crowds.

An evening at Coors Field in the summer will rival any baseball experience in the country. After all, it cools off without the humidity. The Rockies are alone in this time zone and our space breeds independence.

Yes, there are some people trying to change what Denver is all about, but the great things about this city will remain. We will maintain because we have endured the Rockies for over two decades. That’s what being a Coloradan is about. Supporting the purple pinstripes with all of your heart. The club is open— I am happy for anyone to become a Coloradan.

If you want to continue to be a transplant—you’re welcome to root for someone else. Just don’t try to change who we are. I think you’ll meet a lot of nice people along the way. If you must look down us on us—remember we have more practice than you. We play our ballgames above you—at altitude.

This post originally appeared on 5280 Sports Network, now a part of Mile High Sports

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