Have you ever been hanging out with friends or maybe at a party and the conversation turns to sports? It always does just wait for it, this topic is about as common as asking about the weather.
So someone mentions your sport team of choice, one you’ve followed and enjoy and it sounds like a conversation you want to be a part of so you go ahead and throw you hat into the ring with, “Hey, I like that team too!” (This is a generic statement FYI). So you join in the conversation by talking about the game they had or maybe impress them with some statistics, whatever the game plan is now you’re in the conversation.
BUT WAIT… Here is where the most furious questions occur. In my experience these questions usually come from a male, but that is not always the case, and they are usually well versed in every topic of every kind on any given day (rolls eyes)… “You’re not a fan, name five players on their roster? Who’s injured? Who got traded? What is the captain’s brother’s childhood best friends name?”
FIRST OF ALL, this isn’t some sort of security question, I can proudly say I have no f#$king clue for that last one mainly because it has nothing to do with the sports team that interests me. More importantly, this is a question that is asked purely to attempt to shame the person who’s trying to get involved. So to clear up any confusion, I thought I’d put it out there on social media and as “What do you think makes a ‘true’ sports fan?”
The answers rolled in and it was clear that the majority voted on passion. While some who responded kept their answer simple and said “passion,” others explained what passion means to them and their teams.
Mike Erickson from Winnipeg, Man. wrote: “Even though I’m a (Colorado) Avalanche fan I think hometown pride plays a big factor. I love the (Winnipeg) Jets just because I’m from Winnipeg.”
So hometown pride, the best part about that is even if you’re new to a sport you always have somewhere to start and develop your knowledge of the sport before realizing you made a terrible mistake and jumping ship… Okay I’m only kind of kidding.
What else makes a “true” fan?
Annie Chipman, a recent alumna of the former UND Women’s hockey program, wrote: “Avid sports fans actively search out media coverage of their teams, and all other teams? Willing to spend money to watch.”
So money and time, that now comes into play of a “true” sports fan. Are you willing to put the hours and money into the team you want to root for? If the answer is yes, then maybe you’re a “true” sports fan.
While the question attracted comical answers such as Jacob Notermann’s “how many hats they have for a team” to Jordan Lisowick’s “That guy who wears a raptors jersey to a leafs game,” most responses answered the initial question but added a new one.
One answer in specific made me scratch my head, Nolan Kowal from Winnipeg, Man. wrote that a “true” fan is “Somebody who understands the intricacies and strategy of a game rather than somebody who just mindlessly cheers.”
While Kowal has a point, the more you know sometimes benefits your own experience in how you cheer, I think the thing that’s missing is the demographic we’re looking at.
Shortly after the Nashville Predators lost in the game five of the Stanley Cup Final, a friend forwarded me a video of an adorable young girl no more than five years old named Wrigley. Her mother recorded a message Wrigley wanted the Preds to hear.
I know you’re sad and I’m sad too. But you shouldn’t be sad because you did great! I can’t wait until next year. It’s gonna be so much fun. You did a great job tonight, guys.
(This is too adorable not to watch BTW, I’ll post the link below.)
Decked out from the ribbon on her head to her tiny toes in Preds gear, the girl’s heartfelt message was nothing short of beautiful. Now to tell me that girl isn’t a true fan would be a blatant lie and from what the criteria that has been laid out tells me is that she definitely has passion, she watches her team play all the time and from the amount of gear she’s wearing in the video I’m assuming money has been put in (even though that’s definitely from her parents pocket). But because she might lack the intricate knowledge that is included in hockey, would you say she’s any less a fan?
This is a slightly extreme example, I mean she’s five but the point I’m trying to get across is that while knowledge is an asset; passion drives you to want to know more.
Personally, “true” fans come in all ages they are not created overnight, which means they also have many different stages. That original cringe worthy question, the one that the know-it-all sports fanatic asked you at that party to make you feel small, that’s not what makes you a true sports fan. Instead, it just works to make you feel small and the person who asks the questions feel superior.
Stop asking those questions, stop being a gatekeeper and let the fans in.
As promised, Adorable Nashville Predators fan