A True Fan

Every sports team has a loyal fan base, whether it’s the players’ parents or an entire city. Sports fans have their own reasons for why they cheer for that team. Some people like the Golden State Warriors, simply because they are the best team in the league.

Some people, including myself, like the teams that their parents like, which has (at times) been quite unfortunate for me. Everybody has their reasons, but what makes a real fan?

This has been a frequent topic of argument amongst my friends recently, always started by someone accusing another person of being a “fake fan”. This accusation is then followed by an exchange that may include a few words I wouldn’t repeat.

The most common scenario has been the conflict between fantasy football and the NFL. Can you rightfully cheer for a player on your fantasy team if they’re playing against your beloved Giants?

Another common situation has someone rooting for more than one team, or different teams based on their favorite players. Are you a true fan if you cheer for multiple teams?

It’s very obvious that being a frontrunner does not make a true fan. It’s easy to decide to root for the Panthers this year, because they have the best record in the league. Meanwhile, the true fans have been supporting the team for many tough, super bowl-less years.

I think the first pillar of being a true fan is having a valid reason to support that team. If a family member goes to college, of course you can rightfully root for that team now. If you live in St. Louis, it would make sense to be a Rams fan. If you were raised under the roof of Lakers fans, it would make sense to be a Lakers fan.

However, there comes a point when the line is drawn. If the 3rd string quarterback of the Panthers went to the same college as your cousin, that’s too much of a stretch to be a valid reason.

The second pillar is always putting your team first. For example, if you are a Steelers fan, betting against the Steelers is a big NO. If you have Adrian Peterson on your fantasy team, and the Steelers are playing Peterson’s team, you’re a true fan if you put Peterson on your bench.

The last pillar is commitment. To be a loyal fan, you have to be committed forever. A true fan doesn’t give up on his team, especially to the point where he switches teams.

In my opinion, having been amongst electric crowds, and playing with large crowds watching, the game is nothing without the fans. The players feed off of the crowd, which gives the game a whole new element of excitement.

It’s truly amazing that people with different backgrounds, living circumstances, occupations, and opinions can all go to one place with the same purpose and goal, helping the team they love win.

From Top to Bottom

With the autumn season coming to a late end, it brings a couple things. Frigid temperatures in Jersey, holidays, and a new year. However, the main attraction of winter for me is basketball season.

Last year I played freshman basketball for my high school, and I’d say it was a pretty successful year. We finished with a respectable record, and I led the team in multiple categories. I’m sure at the end of last season I was incredibly satisfied with that.

But now, after a week of practice with JV and Varsity, I am able to put last year in perspective. Yes, it was still a successful year. I made several big strides in the development of my game, and I really established myself as a good outside shooter.

But, as I see practice alongside the rest of the JV and Varsity players, I realize I still have a long way to go. The first week of practice was an entirely new experience, having to bust my ass in each and every drill or sprint.

As I think back to my freshman year, I realize I should not have been as content as I was. I had never been a main scorer for any basketball team, and that definitely affected how hard I worked everyday.

I became too satisfied with hitting a couple threes and finishing with double digit points. And now, looking back on that, I really wished I had put extra work into defensive drills and becoming more fundamentally sound.

With the first game scheduled in less than two weeks, I know that I’m going to have to work hard to earn every minute I can get in each game.

My mentality has changed since last year, and I wish I had figured it out before now. When you are one of the better players in the gym, it’s a lot easier to start to slack and lose tenacity in practice, knowing you are probably going to play a lot in the next game.

But when you’re in a gym with a whole group of players who may be quicker, taller, or even better than you, it’s not an option to give less than 100% during practice. There’s no guarantee of any minutes as of now, and I have to continue to work hard in order to be competitive with the rest of the players in the gym.

The leap from freshman hoops to the next level is more drastic than I thought, and adapting to it has not been easy. However, I know in the first week I’ve made good progress, and I know now that you can’t ever be satisfied or you won’t be able to play at the next level.