The sports fan can often be described as passionate. They make a considerable emotional and in many cases financial investment in their teams. I myself run websites about my two favorite teams, investing a lot of my time and providing myself with a hobby that I draw enjoyment from. With every win, there is a high. With every loss, a low, but life goes on and you hope the next week your team gives you that high again.
With that emotion, I sometimes find myself taking my sports too seriously, and the emotions of the game getting the best of me. Fans love to feel they have some impact on what their team does. The age of the internet has produced an army of armchair quarterbacks and fans who declare this guy is a bum, or that guy should be fired. There seems to be a point where fans become almost delusional in the effect their comments have on the team they cheer for.
Take this recent quote that appeared on Lionbackers.com following a Lions victory, where a fan states that Wally Buono should thank the fan website for the success of the team versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders last Friday.
“Seems to me he can thank most of the Lion’s loyal and concerned of fans for having lit a collective fire under his arrogant, complacent butt, and started listening to what we have been saying for years about Javier Glatt playing on the outside rather than in the middle. You can be sure that media just saw what we had to say, as a political football and ran with it so to speak.
Notice how well Javy responded to being shook up and demoted, by responding with a whale of a game at the WILL position, and was instrumental in a critical turnover spelling off JoJuan at his old starting spot as a bonus. Who says the armchair critics don’t have something to contribute to this team.
It’s called tough love, careful and reflective analysis, something you’ll never get from Rod Black and Glen Suitor and their bland nauseating lip service.”
Not only does this “fan” claim some credit for the win on behalf of the site he posts on, he himself takes a personal shot at the coach with his comment. Is this a fan, or an individual pumping up his own ego and self-esteem?
A study done in 1976 (Cialdini, R. B., et al. (1976). Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 366-375.) clearly demonstrated that people associate themselves with positive outcomes of others even when they have no clear connection to those outcomes. The study showed that after a win by their chosen teams, fans would use words like “we” after a win and “they” after a loss. In other words, they take pride in being part of the victories, but distance themselves from the losses.
Football is the ultimate arm chair sport. Missed blocks, bad penalties, interceptions, all provide fuel for the “expert” fan. This isn’t to say fans don’t deserve to have opinions or can’t talk about the plays or mistakes they observed in the game. But often they cross the line from being a fan to being abusive towards players and coaches. Throwing out personal insults, or inferring that they have all the answers. Some of them even promote fellow fans, claiming they should be hired as coaches in place of the professionals hired by the team. Yes, I’m serious.
A common cry from those basking in this glory of others, is that the players don’t care or that they aren’t trying. That is one of the most ridiculous things a fan can state in my opinion. These players are professionals because they do care, they’ve dedicated themselves and their bodies to playing football. With one missed play they can lose their job.They can be here today and gone tomorrow.
We as fans need to remember that to us this is entertainment, not a right of passage to rip and insult players when we see fit. We may think we care as fans but to the players and coaches, this is their every day life. To be a true fan, you need to stick with your team through thick and thin. The memories that sports have left imprinted on our lives will always remain, and they are a gift from those that provided them. Let’s all remember that sports is not life and death. It’s a vehicle of entertainment that we all get to enjoy.
Our kids look up to players as heroes, and we as adults get our emotions sent on a roller coaster ride that takes us to great highs and crushing lows. Enjoy the ride, because in the end it’s just a game.