Here’s something that really bothers me. A lot of the time, I see people talking about what makes a good fan and what doesn’t. It’s one thing to say this off-handedly and not direct it at anyone, but when people go right up to other fans – my fellow sportswriters here at Aerys included – and say things like, “You just became a fan because your local team did well recently!” “You only like the team because that hot guy/girl plays for them!” or even “You only care about that sport because it was on the Olympics!” it’s just plain irritating. Here’s why.
Let’s start with a graphic that I drew last July and posted on my baseball art blog:
What I left out of my graphic then is what I’m writing about now. When people become fans of a sport (or anything, for that matter), the reactions tend to vary. Some people – those who are quite content with themselves and their fandom – welcome them in with open arms. In short, they don’t judge the new fans as long as they remain fans. Some people, however, feel the need to criticize new fans, telling them that since they haven’t been fans for a long time that they’re not true fans. This makes no sense. They may be new, but that doesn’t mean they can’t care about the team the same way you do. It’s about passion and knowledge, not how many years you’ve been a fan. Fill the new fans in and help them see why they should stick around. Help them fall in love with the team instead of chasing them away. Remember: more fans for your team means more money for your team, which means more room for improvements for your team. Think about it that way for a second.
Basically, look at it like this: bandwagoners jump from winner to winner. New fans, although new, stick with the team. Why don’t we give these people equal rights, eh?
In addition, if a person is attractive, there’s nothing wrong with saying so. For exactly, everyone knows that I have a long-standing crush on former-Red Sox-and-current-Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie. Do I let that dominate my baseball fandom? Of course not. I love Jed to death, but it doesn’t make me any less of a baseball maven. If you think an athlete is attractive, feel free to say that he or she is attractive. That’s called biology, people. It happens. People have hormones. I didn’t see too many male fans being criticized for saying various players on the USWNT were hot during the Women’s World Cup last summer. If a female fan says she finds an athlete attractive, she often draws criticism from both male and female fans, even if she falls into the latter category of my graphic. Either way, we shouldn’t be telling each other that we’re less of a fan, regardless if we’re male or female. That’s not cool.
Let new fans be new fans. Let fans find athletes attractive. Let people be fans in their own way. Everyone is a fan in their own way. I shouldn’t have even had to draw that graphic last summer – we shouldn’t be categorizing fans and then judging them based on their fandom type. We should just be accepting each other as fellow fans and stop fighting over stupid little things like how long we’ve been watching the team.
Got it? Good. Now go back to watching sports.
Steph Diorio is a sports fan who likes teams that are not very good at their sports but play them anyway (like the Mets and the Oilers). She covers the Orioles (another bad team), the Red Sox (a team that’s usually pretty good) and Stanford baseball (an amazing team, ironically). When she’s not doing that, she’s drawing nerdy stuff here and here and tweeting about her bad sports teams at @1863_project.