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.


3 thoughts on “A True Fan

  1. Fandom is a really interesting topic and for most of us sports fans it sometimes causes big problems. As you said one usually roots for the team his or her parent roots for ,where they live and so on. However, there are so many variables that can come into play. What to do if your parents root for different teams, what if you move to a different city, what if your favorite college player is drafted by a different team than your home team? The possibilities are endless. Everyone has to handle this differently according to how strong they feel about the teams they grew up with. There are a few absolutes. One is that gambling should have NOTHING to do with how you feel about your favorite team. Gambling (fantasy sports) and rooting for your favorite team should be kept completely seperate. In other words, if you are betting a sports fantasy game play your best players no matter what team they are from. It should have nothing to do with who you really root for. The second absolute is that the team you grew up loving and rooting for you should stick with forever, through thick and thin. Remember, part of loving a team is suffering with them through the losing years. This makes enjoying the winning years all that more ecstatic.
    Personally, I have been very lucky in that I moved to Miami after over 50 years in New York. I will always root first and foremost for all the New York teams (Mets, Giants, Jets, Rangers and Knicks) but I have the luxury of also having a second team to root for in all the major sports on a daily basis (Marlins,Dolphins, Panthers and Heat). I root for all of these teams except when they play each other and then I root for my New York teams. No problem.

  2. Great article. I agree with Grandpa Mike’s thought that sticking with your team through good and bad is what defines a true fan, and that is what makes the winning seasons that much sweeter. Rooting for the flavor of the month, or the hot and trendy team in any given year, is like eating Chinese food. Tastes great when you are eating it, but very quickly thereafter you feel hungry and unsatisfied. Wining and losing with your true team is nourishment for the soul.

    More important than the winning and losing is the community that true fandom and allegiance connects you with. For me, there is nothing better and more important about University of Michigan sports than the fact that for every event, it brings me and my friends and our families together, whether watching games together on TV, or travelling to a game, or even just texting and talking on the phone during games to commiserate and share the excitement. That is when being a true sports fan is the most provides the greatest gifts.

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