Monday, February 28, 2011

What Kind Of Sports Fan Are You?!?

For the first time in my adult life, I actually bought season tickets to a professional sports team last Fall. As most of you know, I'm a Washington Wizards fan, which makes me about a low on the fandom totem pole as possible. In the first season of what will undoubtedly be a long rebuilding effort, the team's record is currently 15-40something. They have been out of the playoff race for all intents and purposes since Thanksgiving. Most nights at the Verizon Center are like going to a cemetery, littered with empty seats and ambivalent fans who often cheer for the opposing team. The Wizards win about half of their home games, and they absolutely get obliterated the other half. They have won just one road game all season. Outside of rookie John Wall, there aren't any other players who absolutely look like building blocks for the future. There have been many times when I've sat on the Metro on my way home wondering "Why in the hell did I do this?" Rooting for this team literally makes you feel like a loser.

The answer to "why I do this" is actually sorta simple. To hang out with my buddies and drink not-so-cheap beer. To heckle players. To watch young players slowly, but surely develop. To get out of the house.[1] To momentarily escape life. But mostly, because I'm a real fan of the team. I've been a fan when they sucked, I was a fan when they were (briefly) respectable, and now I'm still a fan although they suck again. It's not easy cheering for a perennial loser, but somebody's gotta do it, and that somebody's me.

That said, I've also learned a lot about other "fans" as a result of my experience.[2] Not all fans are created equal, but they're all easily categorized.

The Bandwagoneer - You know him, and you hate him. He's the guy who was a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, and now, is miraculously a Miami Heat fan. The Bandwagoneer jumps on whatever team's hot at the moment, then jumps off as soon as he sees they're headed back to the lottery. BTW, is it just me, or are there suddenly a lot more Clippers fans popping up? Hmmmmm.

The Drunk Smartass - This guy gets loaded on not-so-cheap brews, and probably practices one liners in his car before heading to the game itself. Once there, he tries to shout witty nonsense while the game goes on, presumably to heckle the players, but mostly to elicit laughter and co-signs from the other people in his section. This schtick is usually entertaining in the first half, but by the time the 3rd quarter rolls around, you just wanna call security on this moron.

The Fanatic/Lunatic - There's a thin line between being a Fan and being a Stan. This guy's often clueless about where that line resides. He gets married wearing his favorite team's colors. He names his child after his favorite player. He knows the career statistics, birthdates, and probably the blood type of every player on his team. His level of obsession is scary, but for some reason, perfectly acceptable social behavior. Until it crosses the line and is suddenly just creepy. BTW, if you've never seen this movie, please, go rent it now! It it freakin' awesome.

The Chronic Complainer - This sportsfan simply cannot say anything nice about the team he presumably roots for. Every comment is about how sh*tty the offensive line is, the unpredictability of the coach's substitution patterns, or how unimpressive a win is because the opponent was so bad. This dude is basically like the Republican Party. The team could be winning 50-0, and this dude would still find something to hate on. It's just in his blood, he can't help himself. He's the sporting equivalent of Debbie Downer.

The "Dallas Cowboy Fan" - This "fan" isn't too far removed from The Bandwagoneer, but the bigger point is that this fan has no personal point of reference to the team they root for. Lots of Cowboys fans couldn't find Texas on a map, let alone explain why they like the team so much. This sort of fan usually just roots for said team to piss off the legions of fans who happen to root for the hometown squad.

The Armchair GM - Everyone's got an opinion on their favorite team's players, and everyone's entitled to their opinions about who should stay and who should go. But Armchair GM goes one step further by going to ESPN Trade Machine and seeing if a particular deal would work out numbers-wise. Then Armchair GM proceeds to run off at the mouth about said trades, even if they're completely irrational and will never happen in real life. Armchair GM always thinks "we just need a point guard and big man. We should trade Tyronn Lue for Chris Paul. The numbers work! I checked it out." A frequent caller to post-game shows, this dude never fails to annoy.

The Armchair Coach - Watching a young team flounder and lose game after game, it's human nature for fans to question a coach's substitution patterns, or to wonder why Anonymous 15th Man isn't playing more. But Armchair Coach is always drawing up plays in the huddle (despite sitting in the 400-level) and shouting them out loud, as if the coach can hear, or cares. Armchair Coach also tries to impress his girlfriend by talking about the intricacies of the pick and roll, but mostly just annoys everyone sitting around him.

The "See And Be Seen" Fan - This fan isn't even a fan of the sport, and just goes because someone gave him/her good tickers. This is in many cases an attractive woman, but is usually a stuffy business suit type. He shows up at the game fashionably late, sits in pricey seats near the floor, and spends entire game either on his phone (talking business), or talking business with the person sitting next to him. The game is merely a backdrop for closing the next deal. SABS Fan usually only pays attention to the game when there's a break in the action and he might end up on the JumboTron. He also usually leaves the game early. I hate SABS fan with a passion.

The Real Fan - Depending on the day of the week, the team's record, or the weather; a combination of all the above fans.

Question: Who are your "teams"? What kind of fan are you? Did I miss any "fan types"?

[1] For anyone wondering, yes, my wife has her own outlet. And yes, sometimes she comes to games with me.

[2] No, I don't go to all 41 home games. No married man with kids has this sorta time on his hands. A friend and I "split" the season tickets with two other guys, so basically we get about 20 games, or roughly 3-4 per month. That's more than enough.

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