My wife left me a love note the other day. She was on her way to Sanibel to spend a week in the island sun with her mom, my mother-in-awe. She finished with, “Thank you for being my biggest fan.” My wife and I say that often. We are each other’s biggest fans in every sense of the word.
The other day someone at work asked what I thought about a coworker. I had said, “I’m a big fan of Daniel.” Clearly, the fanaticism I have for Daniel does not compare to that of my wife, so I stopped to think about what it meant to be someone’s fan.
My sports-loving friends would laugh if I ever called myself a sports fan. Compared to the enthusiasm they have for their favorite teams, I’m closer to a bandwagon fan than I am to their true rabid following. But, I see a lot of parallels between the loyalty to their teams and the actions between two people that are fans of each other.
A true fan…
Shows up – no matter the game
I live in Atlanta, where the only professional championship I can remember came with the 1995 Braves. Before the glorious mid-90’s, the Braves could barely average an attendance of 10,000 people. I would guess that only half of those fans were rooting for the home team. Those remaining 5,000 folks, however, were true fans.
When you are a true fan of someone, you believe in them and support their efforts no matter how badly they are doing. They may be in the doghouse with the executive team, but if you are their fan, you are showing up to support them regardless of the cause or their current performance. You believe in them deeper than any situation.
Stays until the end of the game
You can always tell a true fan by whether they stay to the end of the game, regardless of the score. Traffic be damned.
A lot of us are great at supporting our friends at times when they have a big event – good or bad. How many of us are there during the non-eventful times? It’s easy to pay attention and offer friendship when there is a call to action, but a true fan is there when things are calm and everyone else isn’t paying attention. It reminds me of a friend of mine, Lauren, who would only give a very small gift for a baby shower. Six months later, after all the clothes no longer fit, Lauren would figure out what the new family needed and provide it as an anonymous gift. We all knew who sent it – only Lauren thought it was anonymous. Lauren stayed to the end, until after all of the excitement had passed.
Is a blatant homer
Unlike many, I love it when a sportscaster is clearly a homer. Listening to a game being called where the announcer is as blatantly biased in his opinions as I am is very comforting. It’s not accurate, but I can get accuracy elsewhere.
How many of your fans are true homers? Are they right there with you while you are going through your moments of full-on crazy? Homers are rational when the situation calls for it and they can provide reason at the right time. However, there are many times when you don’t need to hear what is right. You need your fans to be crazy with you. If you are excited they are excited. If someone hurt you, they want to beat the other person up. If you’ve just done something stupid, they don’t feel the need to tell you. They are your homer. Prejudiced as all hell.
Wears their team colors with pride
Fans are never afraid to tell everyone who they support. Your team may be setting the record for most losses in a season, but you are still wearing your jersey to work on game days.
You can tell a true fan when they have no problem going against popular opinion. I once worked with a guy, Mark, that was not well liked by many of my associates. I could not understand why. I felt that people were only operating from a very superficial understanding. I was one of Mark’s biggest fans. I had no problem telling others that, even at the risk that they might think less of me. I was often the person that stopped the piling on that would happen in gossip sessions. I made it clear that Mark was my boy. I wore his jersey with pride.
Buys season tickets – no matter the cost
True sports fans buy season tickets every year. It may be a major, if not irrational investment for them. It doesn’t matter. Their spouse may not understand. It doesn’t matter. It may take away valuable time from other important things in their life. It doesn’t matter.
When you are truly someone’s fan, you are committing to a long term view. Wins and losses don’t affect whether you are committed to buying next year’s season ticket. You give your time in advance, not knowing what might come up next year, and work your schedule around it when it comes time to show up. They know that you are in it for the long haul and take comfort that you are one of the only ones willing to do that. It’s more than staying until the end of a game, or finding them after the spotlight has shed. It was a guaranteed stream of emotional income that they could count on every year – even in your lean times.
After considering what it means to be a fan, I have been more careful when I use the word. It’s special to be a fan, for both you and them. You are no longer just a spectator at their game – you are emotionally tied. Most of your casual friends can’t understand it, but totally respect it. Almost like a Cleveland Browns’ season ticket holder. It’s that irrational.