Is There a Right Kind of Sports Fan?

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There’s a great reflection on the heart of a sports fan on SB Nation’s Canis Hoopus blog. AverageJer asks himself questions that I am sure many a die-hard fan is familiar with:

“Is the loyalty worth it? When isn’t it? Some here have threatened to stop supporting the team if certain outcomes occur. Does this mean they are less of a fan or does it simply mean they have stopped deriving personal benefit from their efforts? I’m not one to judge these kinds of things but I am curious what other people think. Is there a right and a wrong way to root for a sports team? Is blind loyalty nothing more than blissful ignorance or is it an enlightened union with a force larger than the individual parts it’s made from? Help me out here friends, why do I do this day after day and how will I know when enough is enough?”

Is there a right kind of sports fan?

On one hand you have people who enjoy the game, but not so much as to revel in the glory and commiserate in the pain. These are apathetic fans. They tune in and out depending on results. Ship-jumpers who support a new team every few years.

Then you have the lifers. In it forever, thick or thin. Watching every game, analyzing every move, treating players like one of the family. Their wardrobes show team colors. Many have club tattoos on their body and bumper stickers on their cars. They know all the words to the club songs and are compendiums of historical knowledge.

Is one type of fan better for the sport than the other? Every type of fan takes a different perspective. Many loathe each other, for their intensity or lack of. In my younger years this all played out in the pub. Today, it’s a digital discussion.

But for me, sport has always been about the magnificent moment on the field of play, a dazzling movement, a winning score – and then the camaraderie of sharing it among friends and mates. Anyone who watches sport, participates in it, and learns to appreciate it enough to support it positively, should be welcomed. Teams need all kinds of fans to get behind their games. It’s what contributes to the competitiveness and electricity that you get when game play is on.

For a few hopping-off points, check out:

  • The Roar: Your Sports Opinion. From Australia. Read my friend Spiro Zavos’ commentary on the captaincy merits of Michael Hooper and Kieran Reid and the Waratahs’s last minute victory over the Crusaders for the Super Rugby title in the southern hemisphere. Did Reid (and McCaw) give the game away through poor decision-making in those final minutes when they where ahead 32-30?
  • Manchester United recently played Real Madrid in an exhibition game at ‘The Big House’ in Ann Arbor Michigan. See these fantastic photos from The Telegraph of the biggest crowd for a soccer game in the USA – 109,318 people! 
  • On 1 November the All Blacks play the USA Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago. Will this be the biggest attendance for a rugby match in USA history? See you in the Windy City, and in the meantime here’s to the All Blacks this weekend who are set to take on the Wallabies in the first match of the Bledisloe Cup.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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