Fans: Heads Are Where Their Hearts Are

"We ain't exactly crazy, But we ain't exactly sane! If our team don't win. We're gonna complain!"

“We ain’t exactly crazy,
But we ain’t exactly sane!
If our team don’t win.
We’re gonna complain!”

The writers and athletes don’t call us sports “fans” for no reason. As you must certainly know by now, the original slang word “fan” was short for “fanatic”, or “fanatical”. It did not take long use for the the three-letter word to encompass all the insanity rapped up in the longer noun and adjective versions of the idea. Before the word “fan” took over for supporters, 19th century baseball partisan ticket buyers were known as “cranks” – a word that still fits our moods pretty well when things don’t go our way for our team on the field. Our behavior can often ascend above all mean-meanings of the adjective “cranky”. In fact we may sometimes rise to cantankerous heights of objection to bad results.

At any rate, it’s all part of our involvement is supporting “our team” – whomever they are – at whatever level they play – in whichever sport comes to mind. It’s just sadly true, sometimes, that the 21st century media pundits forget why we come to the games.

Over this past weekend, a couple of Sports Center talking heads on ESPN were waxing their way through one of of those year-ender searches for meaningful retrospection on what we all may learn from the big news in sports for 2014. One of these wizened observers jumped almost immediately upon the fact that fans seemed ready to dismiss their concern over domestic violence that came to light in the separate, but dual “bad boy” cases of running backs Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Rice was videotaped knocking out his then fiancee and now current wife in an elevator – and Peterson was convicted of parental abuse for tree-branch switching his young son on the legs until the skin was broken.

Together, the two cases have launched a new national attention upon the serious problem of domestic abuse in our American culture in general, but, as the ESPN guy observed, paraphrasically, “the fans seem to have already put the reality of domestic violence behind them with the approach of the playoffs. All they seem to want to talk about now are the prospects for their various teams making the cut of those few that will be playing soon for a chance to reach the Super Bowls. – What does that say to us as a culture about the priority of NFL fans – or sports fans in general?”

Well, all the NFL playoff spots got settled on Sunday, but the fever goes on in football for the Super Bowl quest – as well as the upcoming first NCAA Division 1 college football tourney for a champion among the surviving “Final Four”. – That said,  The Pecan Park Eagle will “risk” an answer to that ESPN wise men query about the priorities of sports fans with a compound question of its own. Since the expert observers keyed upon the NFL fans, we shall answer primarily for those fans, but these same observations slide easily to baseball, basketball, hockey, or even soccer, in some rarer USA instances:

Do NFL Fans, or sports fans in general, spend big money going to games to get closer to reality – or do they show up all the time at games to escape reality as much as possible for the sake of hoping their team can succeed for them in ways that never seem to come up so reachably – and so clearly attainable – and in ways that never seem to arise for them personally – at home, the office, the store, school, or shop? Several corollaries come into the picture here which support the over-identification of fans with their teams, but we shall note only one here as a question, in the interest of time and space: How many fans are as blessed to have the equivalent of a “J.J. Watt” defending them from the obstacles that oppose the accomplishment of their personal goals at home, school, or work?

The following is a pictorial answer to the central question, now expressed in simpler terms: Do sports fans attend the games of their favorite teams to get closer to the realities of everyday life? Or do they show up to escape reality as much as possible?

Based upon the following NFL fan pictures, you decide. 🙂

Minnesota Vikings Fan

Minnesota Vikings Fan

Green Bay Packers Fan

Green Bay Packers Fan

New Orleans Saints Fans

New Orleans Saints Fans

Cleveland Browns Fan

Cleveland Browns Fan

Denver Broncos Fan

Denver Broncos Fan

Indianapolis Colts Fan

Miami Dolphins Fan

San Diego Chargers Fan

San Diego Chargers Fan

Indianapolis Colts Fan

Indianapolis Colts Fan

Oakland Raiders Fan

Oakland Raiders Fan

Houston Texans Fan

Houston Texans Fan

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2 Responses to “Fans: Heads Are Where Their Hearts Are”

  1. stanfromtacoma Says:

    Those are quite the pictures Bill. I haven’t been to an NFL game in eons. After seeing those pictures it’s safe to say I will never attend an NFL game in the future.

    The men in the pictures are not fans as I understand the word. A fan is someone who cares— irrationally sure, that’s why they are fans— but a fan cares, and if he does not he is an observer more than a fan. The men in the pictures aren’t at the stadium to see and care, they are there to be seen. If the NFL goes in the tank the first casualties will be the people in those pictures. The NFL in the long run would be better off without them I’m sure , though I’m also sure the NFL
    doesn’t want to go in the tank, so in a sense the league really is in in cohoots with its nuttiest fan base. For the record I haven’t watched an NFL game from beginning to end on TV since at least 1990. I don’t think I’ve missed much. My last year in the stands was in 1966.

    I’m still a baseball fan. I cared whether the Giants or Royals won the World Series. The team I was rooting for didn’t win, but that’s ok. My rooting interest was and is irrational but that is as it should be. I’m glad I wasn’t at Kauffman Stadium for game 7 because I’m sure the irrationality of my fandom would not have survived the first time the video board at the ballpark exhorted me to make noise.

  2. Rick B. Says:

    I tend to agree with Stan that the people in those pictures are at the game to make a spectacle of themselves rather than simply to cheeer for their teams.

    To answer your question, Bill, I think that many people these days go to sporting events to escape reality, and I think the pictures you posted demonstrate that as well. There is no need to go to such lengths just to go to a ballgame. I am a fan, but I don’t need to make a spectacle of myself by dressing like that. Personally, I wear a shirt and cap with my team’s logo (or something about my team), and that adds to my show of support.

    The last time I went to an NFL game (a Texans game in 2008) will be the last time period. It was no fun to be around so many drunk and/or obnoxious people. Such behavior is a problem at many sporting events these days, but football seems to bring it to the fore more often (most likely the violent nature of the sport also bring out the beast in its spectators).

    I do recall one year – 2007 (I remember it well) – when I seemed to have some drunken, obnoxious chucklehead sitting in the row behind me no matter where I attended a baseball game. It happened at Minute Maid Park, Dell Diamond, and Whataburger Field that year. Ever since my sons have been old enough to take to ballgames, I have dreaded having such individuals around me – theirs is not the type of language and behavior to which I want my kids exposed. I am trying to set a better example for them than that.

    The incident I remember best from 2007 occurred during the game in which Craig Biggio got his 3,000th hit. Somwhere around the fourth inning, about seven or eight rows in front of where my wife and I were sitting, two guys had to carry their drunk friend out of the ballpark. What a scene! Why would anyone get that drunk before/during a ballgame? I’ll bet his buddies wanted to kick him in his hindquarters for making them miss Biggio’s landmark hit.

    In any case, I do have to give kudos to the folks at Constellation Field in Sugar Land for clamping down on such behavior. I’m certain there have to be individuals who can’t control themselves at Skeeters games, but my family and I have yet to be exposed to any of them through an average of a dozen games per season in each of the past three years. I wish every facility could control the rowdies that well since, as I said, they obviously can’t control themselves.

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