Jan 30, 2011; Raleigh, NC, USA; A member of the Carolina Hurricanes storm squad signs autographs for hockey fans before the 2011 All Star game at RBC Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Sunday Sermon: Lessons in Fanhood

It’s Sunday, so pardon me if I get a bit preachy in this post. Let me first say, fans of any variety are a good thing. They bleed warmth into the vein of sports. Are you ready for the “but?” However, (a fancy “but”), some fans may actually hurt their team rather than support it. Here are three examples:

The Superior Fan:

Some folks live for their team. It is their friend. It is their family. They have been supporting their team for years and can tell you every the history of each year and every player. They are loyal to the core. Should that time and loyalty give fans superiority other over paying customers? If you think about it in professional terms, those who have expert knowledge in a field…let’s say a teacher with decades of experience in learning disabilities may morph their career into sharing their expertise at the college level as a professor od special education. They do this to help produce new, effective teachers. They use their passion to create newbies in the field to continue their mission. This is where fans with superior attitudes are different. They don’t use their knowledge to support and encourage other fans, but turn their nose up at those who don’t have the sport intellect that they possess. Similar to training college graduates, where would fans be without constant new blood? Fans with superior natures do support their team, but their high and mighty attitude doesn’t bring the sport new supporters. Which brings me to my second fan foul…

The Discouraging Fan:

This is the fanhood blunder that kills me the most. I have a` friend, John, who loves the Washington Redskins. He grew up on this team. He breaths burgundy and gold, but his knowledge and history with the team it would never prevent him from shying away a new fan. Rather, he would welcome more people to his Redskin nation. The fans I’m referring to actually shun new and bandwagon fans. They protect their team like a momma cub. They feel they have earned the right to hold their team possessively to their bosom and don’t feel they should share have to share them with anyone. How does that benefit the team you care so much about? When I moved to Raleigh, I knew very little about the Carolina Hurricanes. I met some folks that were happy to share their knowledge and answer my questions, but I also met fans that didn’t want to give me the time of day. They had the mentality that if I didn’t know certain facts, I didn’t have a right to support the team. Don’t these fans want butts in the seat?

When the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers failed to make the playoffs, a Florida Everblades (the ECHL affiliate of Carolina hockey) fan, Swamp Hockey, tweeted about Carolina fans joining the Blades playoff adventures. I responded by saying my Everblades boarding pass was ready for the bandwagon train. I follow this fan, so I knew she would be a good sport. She didn’t disappoint, she tweeted back, “Welcome aboard miss.” That is a good fan. She knew bandwagon fans may start to follow her team and she decided not to discourage it. High moments can generate new fans, so why discourage it? Let’s talk about true bandwagon fans…

The Bandwagon Fan:

This type of fan walks a fine line. Some sports enthusiasts may actually want to learn and join a team’s fan base. I’m not referring to these individuals. I am referring to the people that talk excessively about a team or sport without any real knowledge. They puff out their chest and pretend they are experts, when in fact, they could forget the team tomorrow. They have no real investment in a team; they spew basic facts to appear impressive in their sport. These fans join a successful team and won’t hesitate to part ways when productivity dips.

As I mentioned previously, bandwagon fans can have good intentions. I don’t follow the Everblades enough to know the players or history, but I sincerely wish them luck and hope they win the Kelly Cup.Should the Blades not win the Cup, I won’t toss them aside like a one night stand. If anything, it sparks my interest to follow them more closely next year. That is how fans are created folks.

Not all fans fall into these categories, actually I would say they are the minority. Yes, not all fans are perfect and I am an example. I don’t claim to be a Hurricanes guru. NHL statistics are like lubricated facts that slide right through my dyslectic brain, but it shouldn’t reflect on my genuine love for my team…I’m simply ditzy. For example, I’m an expert in my personal finances and I still forget to pay my bills. Oh crap, please hold…

Thank goodness for online billing. Anyway, my point is being a fan isn’t a destination rather a journey and no one, regardless of expertise, should deter someone from their journey. Being a fan isn’t a competition. It is a family. It may be dysfunction and some family members may be more on top of it than others, but we are still family.

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