I already covered the fake fans last week. This time, its about the basic fan types.
Everywhere you go there’s a strong fan base in sports. No matter the sport or city. In Philly there is an especially vehement culture of which there is some renown. We have been labeled as the worst fans along with the best. The most violent and most knowledgeable. Most idiotic and most passionate. Either way, it paints a strong picture.
Amongst this well known and respected, or hated, group are a few types that stand out and can be observed. Everyone knows someone who fits one these types and probably more than one. Many of us, including myself and my brother (who said as much while I was writing this) have been one at times.
Still calling themselves a fan of the team, they nonetheless choose to ruin any chance of optimism you might have about a positive development. One way they show this is the “Yeah, but…” argument.
“Have you heard that they just traded (some overpaid, underperforming player) for (young, up and coming talented player)?”
“Yeah, but they’ll never put a good enough team around him to make a difference.”
“I can’t wait for the draft. We have the first pick this year.”
“Yeah, but they’ll either draft a bum or won’t pay enough to keep him if he’s good.”
When you think about it, it becomes clear why the second type of fan exists.
The Impossible Optimist.
These people aren’t merely the antitheses of the pessimists. They don’t seem to present themselves until something of relative significance happens that they can inflate to a bigger, much brighter than possible future. I don’t honestly know what they do when nothing interesting is happening. Can’t say I know anyone personally that does this. I have met a few in passing, sometimes at the game or engaging in small talk on the subway. They are most typically found calling in to sports radio stations, going on crazily and with half baked assertions about players or teams that very little information exists of to say one way or the other about their future. When your team goes on a 3-game winning streak, that’s when they come out of the woodwork.
“Did you see the way the birds destroyed the Steelers? We’re winning the Super Bowl this year!”
I can’t help but laugh hearing these fans. Its one of my favorite reasons to listen to sports radio. Their lack of basic understanding about the business of sports is immediately evident as soon as they open their mouths. My guess is they are diehard fans in their loyalty and positive thinking, but don’t watch too many games or read about the team. They also seem to have a short memory, which is a luxury I wish I had.
The Professional Fan
This next group is one of my favorites. By far the most amusing. They watch every game and read every article (or blog, hopefully). Most of them play fantasy sports, which has them poring over stats obsessively and absolutely HAVING to watch every game of the season.
“Nope, there’s a game on.”
“Sorry, the Cavs are playing the Warriors this week and I have to set my players.”
They pay for the subscription service that has every team’s games with the stat windows on the side open and their notebooks at the ready. The professional fan knows more than you. They will tell you this at every interval. They will shame you for forming any opinions without consulting their expertise first. Don’t worry though. They love to be consulted. Because of the relentless pursuit of information that inform their fantasy decisions, they also know more than the players and staff of any given team in their favorite sport.
It goes without saying that there are also fans that are knowledgeable without being know-it-alls. There’s fans that are reasonable in their expectations and optimism. These are the majority of fans, even in Philly. When you stand back and look in from the outside, sports fandom is pretty tame when compared to things like overzealous political affiliation or religious beliefs. At least sports rivalries don’t turn into wars, riots or infringement of human rights. Its the idiots that make us look bad. The ones that start fights or throw things on the field. I didn’t list them in the fan types because I don’t consider them fans at all. They’re just obnoxious people looking for attention.
And yes. They’re not just in Philly.