Who do I root for?

So, you live in Portland now. And you like sports.

Maybe you just moved from Jerusalem, or Japan, or Jacksonville. No matter.

You like to root, you like to play, and you’re clueless. What’s happening, sports-wise, in Portland? I’m here for you.

Let’s start off with a joke: A teacher in LA asks her students which NBA team is their favorite. Almost every little tyke in class answers, “The Lakers!” except for one little girl in the back.

“Little Suzie, why didn’t you raise your hand?” asks the teacher.

“Because I don’t like the Lakers,” Suzie says. She goes on to explain that both of her parents are from Seattle, and she is a Supersonics fan.

“Well,” the teacher says, “that’s no reason for you to be a Sonics fan. You don’t have to be just like your parents all the time.” Little Suzie looks puzzled.

“Look, if your mother was a dope-smoking shoplifter and your father was an abusive, drug-dealing pimp, what would you be then?”

Little Suzie knows the answer immediately. “I’d be a Trailblazers fan.”

But, really though, it’s not that bad. In fact, it’s OK to be a Trailblazer fan. I give you permission to like the Blazers. They need you.

The only major sports team in town, the Blazers are in quite a sticky situation coming into the start of the NBA season. While seemingly every other playoff team in the Western Conference is getting better, the Blazers have lost quality ballers and their two decades of consecutive playoff appearances is seriously in jeopardy. They have no center. It looks bleak.

But there are some great things to love about the Blazers. Last season, they were the best alley-ooping team in the Association. There can watch some awesome combinations matchmaking in mid-air: Anderson-to-Wallace, Stoudamire-to-Wells, Wells-to-Davis, even McGinnis-to-Woods (wha?).

The Blazers’ alley-oop alone is worth $10, what you’ll spend for some nosebleed seats at the Rose Garden. Look, you can always follow your other teams on the Internet or Sportscenter, but to be a innovator, a real difference-maker, buck the trend and root for the Blazers. Remember, it’s hip to be square.

The only other pro team that’ll be around during fall and winter is the Portland Winter Hawks, a semi-pro hockey team filled with a bunch of 16 to 20-year-old players. The Winter Hawks are fun to watch, because minor-league players know they will often make bigger impressions as bruisers than as finesse players, and minor-league games can be equivalent to Friday Night Fights. The Hawks always contend, and the Rose Garden is one of the top three hockey venues in America.

Finally, there’s one team you’ll never go wrong screaming your throat out for. They compete for you, in golf and football, volleyball and track, against Hornets and Grizzlies and Colonels, and they compete against you, in sociology, music, writing and physics classes. And the glimpses of greatness they offer can swim around in your brain for years.

The Portland State University Vikings are fun to support, exciting to watch and cheap, cheap, cheap. Your fellow students play football, soccer, volleyball, golf, basketball, and softball. They run track, both indoor and outdoor, and cross country. They wrestle. They cheer and dance. They’re you, they’re the hot little number studying in Cramer Hall, and they’re the big dude loading up on Taco Bell in Smith Memorial Student Union. Love them.

Enjoy your PSU experience, and go Viks!