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.