The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Seven Deadly Sins of Sports Fandom


Many outside observers see similarities between fans of a sports team and religious fanatics – in fact, the term "fan" is actually short for fanatic, thus reinforcing this idea.

Just as there are "deadly sins" in religious practice – things that are unforgivable to other believers if you commit them – so also are there seven types of "unforgivable fandom".

These aren't listed in any particular order, but I think you can pretty much guess which one of the seven is the most unforgivable.

So, here they are, the Seven Deadly Sins of Sports Fandom:

1. The Eeyore Fan – This is the fan who says they're a fan of their team, but they can never say anything positive about them. They think the coach is stupid and needs to be fired; the team's too slow and plodding (or too small and fast); the power play stinks, and the penalty kill stinks even worse; there's no goaltending; and we're never going to win another game. This guy's not willing to admit that their so-called favorite team can do anything right. With a fan like this, who needs enemy fans? This is different from the Chicken Little fan, who thinks the world comes to an end when the team loses a game... though not by much.

2. The Puckbunny Fan – I know what you're thinking, but it's not limited to just the female gender. This fan basically likes the team because one player did something special for them – maybe signed a program, or said hi to them at Kroger's, or some other thing. If you concentrate too much on the one player, you don't notice that there's 22 other players on the team – which goes against fandom of a team.

3. The Bandwagon Fan – If the team's atop the standings, this guy's there in a heartbeat. If the team's in the basement, he's elsewhere. "Oh, you're making a Stanley Cup run? Oh yeah, I've been a huge fan forever. What? Your owner bolted for Minnesota? Ah. See ya later." The lesser sin is the belief of NHL clubs that this fan needs to be courted to pry their cash from their wallets.

4. The Split Loyalty Fan – This one's slightly more tolerable than the Bandwagon Fan, because this guy (or gal) basically admits they're a fan of their team... but when another team's playing (and not playing their team), they're rooting for them. Prime example is someone who roots for Dallas – except when they play the Predators. This fan sometimes splits their loyalty based on conference affiliation; they figure they can root for a team like the Penguins and the Predators, because the two aren't in the same conference. Before Inter-league play in MLB, this one was really easy for baseball fans; you could easily root for your favorite team, and follow a team in the other league that you never saw. The fan of a minor league team sometimes feels like this is their bane, because affiliations with NHL teams have a tendency to come and go. That loyalty is a bit different, of course – but if it carries over to your major league level fandom, then it fits.

5. The Player Loyalty Fan – This fan roots for a team because of a particular player. If that player leaves, there goes the fan along with him. You don't believe that this kind of player exists? Well, how much you wanna bet that most of the Tootoo fans would book from here to whatever team he ended up with? And as much as we joked about Upshall's hair, do you think there's a whole bunch of people who dumped the Preds for the Flyers?

6. The Reverse Loyalty Fan – Predator fans know this one: the "PredWing." They're fans of team X... until they play team Y. Then they're fans of team Y, wear their team Y jersey, taunt their fellow fans that they stand beside and cheer their "other" team on any other night. These people one of the greatest forms of evil, because they are disliked on both sides of the aisle – essentially leaving them as a homeless fan.

7. The Enemy Fan – The ultimate sin. Not only are these fans not a fan of your team, but they are fans of your opponents. Your BIGGEST opponents. Yankee fans to the Red Sox Nation; Angels and Dodgers fans; Cub fans to Brewers fans – you get the idea. But this guy (or gal) makes it even worse by intentionally hanging around the opposing team's fans. This is the guy who only goes to Red Wings games at the Sommet Center, or only to Cub games at Busch Stadium. There is just some sort of sadistic joy that these people have of intentionally running up the enemy flag in the one place where they'd be most disliked. This one is the unforgivable sin of Fandom; I mean, come on – if you're going to root for another team, do it on their message boards or at their home arena, and not in the Lion's Den.