The Diehard -- When you imagine true sports fanatics, this is what you think of. This is the fan who truly loves their team, through and through, no matter what. They know the players, the coaches, the schemes, and everything in between. They love their team with every fiber of their being, and hate their team's arch rivals with unbridled rage. Each coming season brings renewed opportunity for glory. And even through those years when that team isn't doing so well, their fanaticism in supporting that team doesn't waver. They understand that to truly savor all that victory has to offer, you have to taste defeat as well; only then can you truly understand how great it feels when your favorite teams achieves victory.
The FINO (Fan In Name Only) -- The so-called "fanatics" who claim to love a particular team, but have no clue as to how the team is doing, when the games take place, important players on the team, or any other piece of information needed to really consider themselves an actual "fanatic." They're the fan who'll publicly tell everyone that they're a fan of this team's college football program, only to be out shopping on the Saturday afternoon when that team is playing. They're the fan who'll talk about how much they love a particular NFL team, but will plan a hiking trip on the Sunday afternoon when that NFL team is playing against a hated rival. Ask them to name their team's quarterback, starting point guard, ace pitcher, or goaltender, and they'll respond with a blank stare.
The Legacy -- This is the fanatic type who roots for their favorite team because their grandfather rooted for that team, their father (or mother) probably rooted for that team, and/or their other family members rooted for that team. Thus, they might have no other real reason or connection to root for that team, except for family tradition. If they root for any other team, especially a rival of the team that everyone else is rooting for, they risk becoming the black sheep of the family.
The Bandwagon -- Perhaps the most loathed and despicable of all fanatic types; in fact, calling them a "fan" is an insult to sports fanatics everywhere. This is the fan who won't stop gushing about how great their team is when things are going well for that team, but when their team isn't doing so great, they conveniently downplay their fandom. In other words: they're only a fan of a team when that team is doing well. These are the types of fans who make you really hate that particular team, not because you actually want to see that team lose, but because you simply can't stand these fair-weather fans. Think of those people who rooted for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990's or New York Yankees in the early 2000's, but mysteriously tones down their support for those teams in recent years.
The Alumni -- Reserved for those who graduated -- and/or played for -- a particular institution of learning. These sports fans will forever associate themselves as a member of said institution, and thus, will forever root for that school's team. They believe that the true essence of sports cannot be enjoyed at the professional level, since those players are doing it for the money. Rather, they cherish the efforts of the student-athletes who are truly playing for the love of the game, and for their love of their school. Those alumni share in that same love.
The Gambler -- This is the fan who has no emotional investment in any particular team; they only care about which team won, and by how many points. Their interest in a particular team and particular game is strictly financial. You'll see this sports fanatic flanked by numerous wager tickets all around them, far more worried about which teams are up and what the score is, as opposed to how a particular team of interest is performing. Almost every sentence includes "underdog" and/or "against the spread." They despise "the backdoor cover" far more than they despise any particular foe. They're far more interested in how much a given team is "giving" or "getting," as opposed to how they actually match up against each other.
The Bigamist -- The fanatic fervently roots for two teams in the same sports league, allowing them to claim fandom of another team when the first one isn't doing well. This is the person who claims they are huge fans of the New England Patriots AND San Francisco 49ers; one happens to be one of the best teams in the NFL, while the other happens to be the worst. Sometimes, this person also doubles as a "FOP" (see #9), rooting for one particular team that they have a connection to, but rooting for another team with an equal level of fanaticism because a particular player happens to be on that team. These individuals are basically hedging their bet -- and might secretly be bandwagon fans, even though they'd deny it -- so as to protect themselves from suffering the indignity of rooting for a team that's losing.
The Convert -- This is the person who rooted for one team for a large portion of their early life, but because of some life event -- i.e., moving to another city, marrying someone with a different allegiance, their team relocating to another city -- they're now a fan of another team. Sometimes this person will maintain some level of allegiance to their "childhood team" (when applicable), but there are plenty of cases where they outright abandon the fandom of their previous team. In some cases, the conversion can be innocent and justified; think of the person who grew up in Minnesota and rooted for the sad-sack Timberwolves growing up, and then moved to Cleveland and became a Cavaliers fan. In other cases, the conversion can be egregious, if not heretical; think of the person who grew up in New York and rooted for the Yankees their whole life, but married someone from Boston and now roots for the Red Sox.
The FOP ("Fan of a Player") -- This fanatic type will root for a team only because it has one particular player on its roster. Often times, they will abandon all fandom of one team and take up fandom of another team, because their favorite player went from one team to another. They're the San Francisco 49ers fans who suddenly became diehard fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, when Joe Montana was discarded by the former and signed by the latter. They're the fans ditched their white and blue for orange and blue when Peyton Manning went from Indianapolis to Denver. They'll still revel in that particular team's glory, even though they have no actual connection to that team, other than their favorite player happening to be on its roster.
The Drunkard -- Simply put: this is the fan who loves their alcohol with a side of sports, instead of the other way around. They're often the best resource to consult when looking for a sports bar to watch the game at, because they've been to every one of them in town (and probably gotten belligerently drunk and most of them). The number on their bar tab before the game even starts is often much higher than the final score of the game that they likely will never remember.
What it means to be a fanatic, is an age-old question that covers quite a broad spectrum of social, and political points of view. The question is not answered easily and poses one of the most unique opportunities to answer it with actions rather than words.
A fanatic is generally described as an individual who is filled with excessive and single-minded zeal towards a specific cause. The word “cause” creates a hundred and fifty shades of grey here, because that definition in and of itself is broad in nature. A fanatic typically refers to an individual expressing a particular type of zeal towards a political cause, but somewhere along the way fanatics were associated to sports, sporting events, sports teams and athletes. By definition the term fanatic applies, if you are ok with what you think “cause” should refer to. Some people think sports do not constitute a legit cause in the grand scheme of humanity, so sports related subject matters cannot possibly have fanatics. Regardless, of what people think, there are countless examples of sports and politics being heavily intertwined, and when this happens entire nations come together, people die, and political regimes are restructured, formed or dismantled. South African Rugby, Colombian Soccer and English Premier Soccer are major examples of this. Don’t think that sports and politics mix in North America? Check out government legislation on PEDs and Concussions. Whenever people’s health comes into question and the government gets involved – fandom is swayed one way or another.
North American professional sports franchises and the T.V. deals they enter into are worth hundreds and millions of dollars, if not billions, all deals designed to increase fandom and all structured to make those same fanatics pay money to watch sports. Whenever someone is monetarily invested into something, you can’t tell him or her whether or not he or she are a fanatic of whatever they are investing in. It’s no one’s place, whether a season ticket holder, or a family of four going to an annual sporting event and paying top dollar for parking, tickets and concessions.
The biggest tension from one fanatic to another is whether we as fans can conceivably measure our fandom or not? In a stadium of 50,000 people paying money to watch a game how many people are actually fanatics for the cause? The answer is, it doesn’t matter. They are consumers, paying a fee to enter the gate, and for 3 hours they can choose what level they are going to be fanatical at. They are all considered “fans” but their level of fanaticism will be different. Some will have their faces or more painted, and some will be on their phones paying no attention to what’s going on, on the field. Both have paid the same amount, and both have been placed in the same community of people for an abbreviated amount of time. Both are fans.
The goal should be for fans of all types and every level to embrace each other’s difference. Sports are meant to bring people together, unite nations, and restore humanity through the spirit of competition. Too often the opposite happens, and it’s simply because fanatics are so culturally immersed in their own deal, that anyone who opposes them is viewed as a threat. That’s not how it’s supposed to be, and that is not the spirit of sports.
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