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.