Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It was the housing boom stupid (me)!

Included in this post is a very important line. It is the sports' loyalty line in New Jersey . . . and additionally another map of what I predict it to look like in 20 years.

The great thing about Sports' loyalties - is that, again, there is no hiding behind Central. You're either a NY/ NJ sports' fan or a Philly sports' fan (and if you are a Dallas fan - can you name the state capital of Texas without googling it?)

OK, I did forget about myself - growing up in Ewing - I was a mixed fan (Devils & Nets - Phillies & Eagles) and I guess the reason I have so much nostalgia for my home county and motivation for this film is that it is the only county where the sports' loyalty question is so evident. There's nothing like a Mercer bar during a Giants or Eagles game. As one guy said in Lawrence Twp. in our documentary, "You'll find someone to argue with and someone to agree with here." But like every other city in the state, each town there . . leans to one side or the other.

But, the lines above - are where they are, in a big way, because of the housing boom in the late 90s early 00s. Staten Islanders and other New Yorkers followed North Jerseyans south and west - searching for cheaper housing and lower taxes. I thought retirement alone contributed to it, but many mayors that I spoke with in Ocean County, a former Freeholder in Hunterdon and a sports' writer from the Express-Times, all confirmed that it was the housing boom that saw the North Jersey sports' loyalty line inch further south and west. Those Philly fans in southwestern Warren County are older and of a different generation than the younger NY/ NJ fans. . . ditto to those few Philly fans still found in Ocean County. Even Mercer may someday change to all north.

This was one of my most interesting findings in this quest. Ocean County Mall is dominated with NY/ NJ paraphernalia, easily outnumbering the Philly stuff. They may have issues with the Bennys down there, but most Ocean County residents celebrated that Giants' Superbowl XLII victory just the same as the Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York people did. They have a common bond.

If you want to see a stark difference in Mercer, though, go to Dick's Sporting Goods in Princeton on Route 1 . . . where the New York/ New Jersey teams dominated the store displays . . . and then go south to the Sports Authority in Lawrenceville, on the Route 1 northbound side and you will find it as even as it gets. . . and they're only about 2 miles apart.

I was waiting for over a year to post this line, so I am hoping the comment board lights up.


Debbie Hamby said...

Another distinction....we South Jerseyans call the summer tourists Shoebies... When I moved from Cumberland County to Monmouth County in 1995 I experienced major culture shock!

BackInBlack said...

I've lived on Long Beach Island my whole life, 30 years, and those of us who live there year-round are Philly fans.

I do think that there has been a shift over my life time with (regrettably) more NY people coming to the Island, but I think that the hardcore people; the fishermen, builders, and others that call LBI and Manahawkin home go with Philly. It would be interesting to look into how much things change during the summer months vs. the winter.

I would even go on to say that there's a huge separation in Ocean County itself. I fully consider anything including and south of Barnegat South Jersey. We seem to be right on the edge.