What kind of a FAN are you?

In the days of my youth (cue Led Zeppelin), I was required to work on a project which would form a part of my overall graduation grade. I surprised myself with the amount of work I put into this assignment. Maybe the reason behind that was the fact that the topic of study was ‘Sports Marketing’.

Now we all agree that the true test of knowledge is being able to beat in pointless debates your unnecessarily factual and objective friends, who think their stats make them better than all of us mere mortals. I can’t tell you how much this project helped me in this regard-for the first time in my life I could retort with stats, facts and figures and silence those smug smartasses, proving that I was always right. When I was mentally high-fiveing myself endlessly during those reasonably long moments of well-deserved self-worship, I felt alive.

Nevertheless, the study did offer some good insights. It was a book I had referred to, although I’m unable to affirm it because of poorly maintained bibliographical records and the transient nature of the internet, which provided a useful categorization of the various types of sports fans.

This is how it goes:

1) Temporary fan: Let’s say Beyonce started participating in ‘Synchronized Swimming’. That is what it would take for me to watch that sport (no disrespect to the athletes, it’s just that I don’t dig it as a sport). This type of fan is not really into the sport, but is fascinated by a specific aspect (e.g. following F1 for the technology on display, not the racing as such)  or a sportsperson. Their interest persists for a limited amount of time and usually dissolves if the sportsperson retires (or they don’t seem to find whatever enamored them interesting anymore). I get it, why to watch ‘Synchronized Swimming’ unless it features Beyonce.

Yes, I see the point of this..
Yes, I see the point of this..

2) Local fan: This is a very relevant form of association; one would obviously be motivated to pitch for their local heroes. The ubiquitous format of geographically defined teams competing against each other in leagues has its foundation here. Although one is almost conditioned to like a local team; being able to intimately connect to people around you (literally) through a common interest is a highly rewarding experience. This is biggest difference between me and a Manchester United fan who lives in Manchester.

Not that it's wrong
Not that it’s wrong

3) Devoted fan: Certain groups of fans have been reported to ‘bleed blue’ from time to time. Aside from the obvious poisoning implications, this is also a metaphor for the love that they bear for their team/sportsperson of choice (blue being their team’s colour). Key games are as important as marriages/anniversaries etc. -the memories are also more poignant; outlook on the world can change from rainbows and sunshine to the apocalypse based on the teams results. This is perhaps the most prominent category of fans.

True story
True story

4) Fanatical fan: Take the attributes and amplify them. Their team/sportsperson is linked to the way they define themselves. It would take natural disasters to prevent them from viewing a game. They become legends themselves, inspiring other fans to emulate them in whatever way possible. Their devotion is recognized by the individual/team that they are supporting might even form official associations as mascots. If being a fan can be described as an art, these are the Mozarts or Da Vincis of it.

I understand..
I understand…

5) Dysfunctional fan: You can only keep pushing fandom attributes so far without making them excessive. The dysfunctional fan called so because he/she cannot get a grip on their emotions. The team or individual that they support seems to be the only thing that matters to them and their behavior can become anti-social if things are going south. These people need to take it easy and realize that sport is not war.

They need a distraction
They need a distraction

There you have it, different categories of fans based on their attributes. So how FANatic are you?

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About Madhur Oza

Aspiring artist. MBA. Erstwhile corporate cavalry. Live to eat. Nerd. Suburban Mumbaikar (pseudo Mumbaikar technically). After having been conditioned by society, it's time to be conditioned by the soul...

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