Fandom

Written January 22nd, 2013 by Ken

This is why we are fans,,,

Every once in a while, I’ll be chided by an acquaintance about still being a Cleveland Browns fan after all these years of living in Buffalo. Really, no other reason than, ‘rooting for the Browns’ was part of my childhood and will always be a part of me. But, to my friends, they are flabbergasted that nearly four decades on, I am still not a fervent Bills fan.

I think people are fans for various reasons and at different levels of ‘intensity’.  For example, when Ohio sports teams play, specifically in my case the Buckeyes and the Browns,  it is a visceral experience for me. I’m up, down, pacing, muttering, agonizing,  etc. In short, displaying most of the symptoms of a fully vested-my-life-depends-upon-it fan. When my adopted team (Buffalo Bills) play, I’m more detached  in my viewing. If the Bills win, great; if they lose, no big deal, we go on to the next game.

In this example, it’s not a case of  bandwagon effect since both teams have been disappointing in terms of success over the past several years.

——————–

Let me tell you a story. One day in the early 60’s, my dad, uncle and cousin were sitting around the pickle barrel discussing baseball. My uncle mentioned that he was a loyal Yankees fan.  I couldn’t believe it; my uncle who was otherwise a supporter of Ohio sports teams, was a Yankees fan.

I asked my uncle about it; ‘Why not Cleveland? Or the other Ohio team, the Reds? Or why not even the Pirates?’, since we lived about equidistant between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. He replied. ’I just like the Yankees better’. I dropped the subject, but still couldn’t get over the fact, that my uncle, true blue fan of local sports, had become a ‘traitor’ by favoring the Yankees. Harsh judgment, indeed, leveled by a 10-year old.

——————–

Now, almost 50 52 years later, I was reading a collection of old letters, war-time correspondence actually, between my dad (USMC-Pacific), my uncle (USA-Europe) and my grandparents (Worried Parents-Stateside). They ranged in having elements of interest, humor and pathos, but all poignant. Especially the letter from my uncle from a rehab location in May 1945. See, his unit had been captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and he’d spent four months in a German POW camp. The predominant theme of his letter concerned comforts that he’d been deprived in the camp. Which gave me pause to think about a lot of things in life. You could be a fan because of Social Identity or attain/confirm social status or sometimes, you just feel like it.

In retrospect, my uncle had earned the right to cheer for whatever team he damn well felt like…

 

So, why are you a fan?

5 Comments

  1. RyanNo Gravatar
    January 22nd, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Ken, though i cannot relate to the military portion of your story, I have to say that i completelyget the rest. I am a buckeye transplant to florida. As a buckeye fan watching a football game is really the worst experience i go through. Nervousness, pacing, sweating, yelling at the tv. I really dont know why i put myself through it. People wonder why i love the buckeyes so much when i never attended OSU. Being a buckeye is how i was raised. At the same time i am a graduate of the university of florida and though i have adopted them as a second team and like to see them win, i dont really care when they lose a game.
    Also, thanks to your father and uncle for fighting for freedom.

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    January 22nd, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Ryan, thanks for your comments. Funny that you mention your Florida experience. One of my frequent golf partners is a native western New Yorker. We were classmates and friends at Muskingum, so like you non-OSU attendees. Last summer, I was sporting an OSU-logo hat and he asked me ‘Why do you and other Ohioans, even if they’ve never attended OSU, cheer for them?’ I told him that ‘we are just wired that way.’

    I can identify with your pacing, nervousness, etc. The first few years of marriage, my wife would don an OSU sweatshirt and watch the OSU-UM game with me. After a few years of my nervousness, pacing, sweating, yelling, etc., she cut her losses and decided that would be a good time to do some shopping. Such is life as a fan.. Thanks again, Ryan.

    [Reply]

  2. DarrolNo Gravatar
    January 22nd, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    As a thirty year resident of Nevada I can relate to Ryan and mixed loyalties. First, I did attend tOSU back in the 60s but have been a fervent Buckeye as long as I can remember (which lately isn’t very far: I digress) since my dad and uncle were huge Buckeyes fans. Since living here I still get the same heart palpitations every time OSU plays any sport that I can watch(several years ago I watched tOSU bowling team play in Carson City and gave them some fan support). As a long time Nevada Wolfpack season ticket holder I can root for them but I get over losses quickly, not like when the Buckeyes lose and I stew about it for days. Every Buckeye game gets me going and I cheer and swear with equal emotion when things go great and bad. Its not about where you live but how you live your life as a Buckeye that counts the most.

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    January 22nd, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Darrol, thanks for your comment. I think your last sentence sums it up nicely, very well said.

    In the ‘it’s a small world category’, my son (non-OSU grad) lives in Vegas and is probably as crazy as you & I are. He has his girlfriend (a UNLV alum) solidly in the Buckeye camp.

    And, yeah, I act the same as you when Buckeyes play. Good thing I take my meds on game day..;)

    [Reply]

    RyanNo Gravatar
    January 22nd, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Myself and my family are slowly turning my girlfriend
    into a buckeye. It. Takes some time, but we will get the Florida born gator alum to the good side. Haha.

    [Reply]

Comment On Article