People who aren’t fans will never understand how we can spend hours talking about sports and athletes like we personally know them. They sit back and criticize, get agitated, annoyed, disgruntled and disgusted at the seemingly relentless assault of sports talk, and while they are well within their rights to state their opinion, there are times when I want to look at them and, while sympathizing with their plight, tell them three words: too damn bad.
Fans are everyday people, but we’re also more than that. We truly are the most misunderstood species in the world. The past month serves as a perfect example of not only the types of fan you see, but also what a fan’s perception is of what they’re seeing. For example, the World Cup was on TV for a full month. You had your soccer die-hards, but you also had folks who were casual fans of the game, as well as folks who became fans because of one of the biggest aspects of The World Cup. That’s right; you had fans of the vuvuzuelas.
Shoot, at times, the sound of vuvuzuelas overshadowed the games themselves, but that’s how major one aspect of the game is, and how much it contributes to fan participation. How do you explain something that seems so minor, but is actually major, to someone who doesn’t comprehend and appreciate aspects of fanhood in the first place? Do you actually try, or do you just dismiss them? Worse yet, what happens when you do explain it, but they still disrespect or downplay the value of what you just shared with them? Safe to say, there are times when both are called for.
This month also gave us LeBronapalooza, which held portions of the country hostage. Seriously, you had CNN and MSNBC reporting about the significance of LeBronapalooza, and for fans, we all took something from it. It dominated television, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media for days, with opinions, analysis, and views as vast as anything you’d ever see. Two people could agree on something, but have two different reasons for agreeing. Now multiply that by a hundred? A thousand? Even more?
Once you do that, it’s obvious that us as fans were experiencing something historic, and we relished it completely. Once again, people who don’t get it will write us off and hurl insults, but honestly, we’re just misunderstood. Fans have fun with all aspects of sports and engage in critical dialogue with each other that would make plenty of folks who are unfamiliar envious. They ask “how is it they can do this?” but they’re asking it of each other or to themselves, instead of getting in the mix of it. It’s mind-blowing.
Yes, we know there are other pressing issues going on in the world, and yes, we know these sports, athletes, owners, general managers and others don’t pay our bills. We’ve known that since the beginning of time. However, there are times when we want to know if it’s okay to cheer for the Miami Heat now that LeBron James is playing with Dwyane Wade. We want to know if that makes us a band-wagoner, or if we are simply a fan of The King, which allows us to cheer him on, no matter where he goes. We want to know what we’re going to do to make this season’s football games as live in person as a World Cup match, with the sounds of blaring and relentless vuvuzuelas drowning out the sounds on the field (note: for the record, some of us hated the sound of them at first, but after hearing them for a few days, we grew to tolerate them, and then actually came to appreciate them, and now we miss them).
Yes, we’ll engage in debate hours on end on why Peyton Manning cannot be the greatest quarterback of all-time, or how the Dallas Cowboys won’t be the first home team to host a Super Bowl, or why the Yankees are bad for baseball. It explains how we’re passionate about when NFL players should have contracts re-negotiated, or when they should just shut up and play. We have a blast doing it, for reasons we understand and appreciate.
Being engrossed in fandom can also illustrate how some of us have wildly varying beef with Dan Gilbert’s tirade, but we all died laughing at the sight of the mock Twitter account in his name that popped up the next day. It explains how even though Lennox Lewis beat Mike Tyson, he’ll STILL NEVER be better than Mike Tyson. It also explains how we can argue all day long about the BCS and how much it sucks, and why there should be a playoff system, so we can finally have a 100% legitimate national champion in college football. Even through our heated, fiery, and passionate disagreements, all of us as fans have a common respect for each other as connoisseurs of the game, regardless of how much our views differ.
Far be it for me to pretend to be the bigger man all of the time, because there are plenty of times when I can and will be petty and immature. For anyone who is not a fan, and doesn’t respect or understand why we as fans are simply misunderstood, I have three words for you, whom I’m sure folk of my elk will wholeheartedly repeat: go to hell.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!