Posted on behalf of Andrew Spero:
Many people are quick to pronounce themselves as “diehard sports fans” who live and die with their favorite teams. But I feel there should be some validity behind such a bold statement and the designation of being a true sports fan should come with some defined qualifications.
First of all a casual fan is nothing more than just that and is definitely not to be confused with a true sports fan. They watch their favorite team’s games when it conveniently fits their schedule or when a social gathering revolves around it. They cannot name their team’s starting second basemen or manager for that matter and do not start following the team on a consistent basis until the playoffs start (like many Yankee fans I know).
A true or diehard fan of a team, in my opinion, is someone who is emotionally attached to their particular team and watches every game during the season unless they have a legitimate reason not to do so (i.e. class, work, etc.) in which TiVo and DVR come in handy. They must be very familiar with the players on their team as well as knowing their strengths and weaknesses on the field. Bill Simmons who writes a very popular sports blog for ESPN has his own list of qualifications and characteristics that make up a “true sports fan” in his opinion. http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/020227
I have to say that I full heartedly agree with many of the guidelines that he talks about of a true fan. One of my favorites and one that I sternly believe in is once you choose a team you are stuck with that team for the rest of your life, through the good times and the bad. Even though I am a Yankees fan myself I have no respect and do not take Yankee fans seriously who admit that they used to be Mets fan but switched somewhere along the line (I’m thinking this switch took place somewhere during the late 90’s). These people are nothing more than frontrunners and do not deserve to be classified as Yankee fans. This may come off as harsh but like I said not everyone can be classified as a true sports fan. How do you feel about some of these rules and guidelines and do you agree with them?
Another quality of a true fan is the unmistakable pit in your stomach that fans endure after their team experiences a bad loss or worse yet being eliminated from the playoffs. Raney and Bryant in the Sports Handbook talk about the casual fan or “low-identified fan” does not have to worry about feeling these emotions. “Because the identity of these fans is not in jeopardy when the team competes, they tend not to experience negative emotional consequences of poor team performance. As a result, they have little need to cope with a loss” (343). For example a casual New York Giants fan can watch the Giants suffer an incredibly tough and heartbreaking loss to their archrival Cowboys and then after the game go out to the mall and hang out with their friends and be more or less unaffected. A true fan such as myself could never do that after a loss of that nature and this is why Raney and Bryant list a couple of coping strategies that many “high-identified fans” use in these cases.
Some of these strategies I agree with and do myself while others I do not find affective at all. One coping strategy from the Handbook that I readily agree with is as follows, “One way for highly identified fans to cope with a team’s loss, particularly a season ending defeat, is to shift their focus from the losing team to another team” (345). For example when the Yankees are eliminated from the playoffs I immediately start focusing more on the Jets season and look forward to the upcoming New York Rangers and Knicks seasons. The pain of the failed season is still there but at least I have three other teams to have “hope in” and distract my attention. For the big sports fans, do you use any of these strategies and if so which are your favorite?