Urging Denver Broncos Fans to Fight Their Prejudice

This column is for fans tired of the Denver Broncos quarterback debate between Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian in training camp.

I’m in the third camp for the Paxton Lynch vs. Trevor Siemian debate. I believe that the conversation is overhyped to the point of foolishness. I reluctantly delve into the mind-numbing nature of the Paxton Lynch vs. Trevor Siemian debate. I hope that some fans agree that the Broncos should field the best team regardless of the preferred quarterback.

We are now in the realm of the “Us vs. Them” mentality when it comes to the Siemian vs Lynch Denver Broncos starting quarterback debate. The other side is the enemy.

“You’re not a real fan if you think that Trevor Siemian should be the quarterback,” I heard one fan say. Is this really where we are as a fan base?

That rhetoric sure sounds familiar. It’s like saying, “If you didn’t vote for my candidate, you’re un-American.” Our society is divided along too many lines—it’s detrimental to our patriotism. Does Broncos country need to fight amongst itself on the one thing that brings Colorado together?

Media Narrative

The biggest sellout in Colorado this month should have been the Denver Nuggets for agreeing to put an advertisement on their jerseys. I’m sure I have a column within me to write about how “inevitable” advertising dollars are. Why not further degrade the fan experience by renaming players after sponsors. Nikola Jokic could become Jokic Shane Company?

Instead, the biggest sellout was the heightened media coverage around Siemian vs. Lynch. I am specifically annoyed by radio station 104.3 The Fans’ marketing team’s decision to turn their Facebook/Twitter logo into #TeamTrevor vs. #TeamPaxton.

The entire campaign is a cheap ploy to get listeners and their coverage is worse for it. Other media groups covering training camp fell in line by promoting the debate. The city is treating this competition like a high school Prom King contest.

I understand why it seems like a great marketing tool. It’s easy to explain. People have opinions about it. Training camp is a hard thing to cover because it lacks tangible measurements.

Still, the greatest Denver football media minds are spending most of their attention on a matter of opinion. I would much rather they educate me about how hard it is to implement a new offensive scheme or what the new defensive coordinator brings.

The media has continued to build on the momentum of quarterback controversies for the last few years. It started with Tebow; then Manning vs. Osweiler; last season featured Sanchez as an option along with the two current quarterbacks. Yes, the quarterback of the Broncos is the most important sports position in Denver. No, the fan base should not tear itself apart as we wait for real results.

The Prejudice of the In-Group

The entire exercise takes away all objectivity. In studies of “Us vs. Them” mentality, people who identify with a camp seem to only see data points that help their side. So, if you are showing bias towards a quarterback, you’re more likely to see his results favorably and discount what the other quarterback is doing. You can’t really analyze either guy accurately with this frame of mind.

Worse, studies show that in this type of situation, people would rather see their side chosen, even if it’s detrimental to the overall success of the group. So, since you picked a “guy”, you would rather he lead the Broncos to 4-12 record even if the Broncos could have a 12-4 record with the other quarterback.

This creates an “in-group” mentality. It’s a phenomenon in sports (think Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James), but it’s not great for the unity of the fan base. It’s not like we’re choosing between Joe Montana and Steve Young. The odds seem low that either of these players will be the quarterback in Denver in three years.

I miss the days when the Raiders, Chiefs, Steelers and Patriots were the enemy. Now it’s Siemian supporters or Lynch supporters.

What a set of prejudices we have—in sports of all places. In a country where we are being torn apart by the perceived shortsightedness of the other side, we are doing the same thing with our football team.

A true Broncos fan would be impartial in this debate. They would cheer on both quarterbacks so that the team has two great options. They would hope each side succeeds and give whoever starts a long leash. They would give each player the same excuses about youth, familiarity with the offense and line protection.

This impartial fan would focus on the Broncos making it to February instead of who quarterbacks the team in week one.

Note: This article has not been updated to reflect the current panic around training camp.

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

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