Topic: “Fandom” – a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. (source: Wikipedia)
What does “fandom” mean to you?
DR: Fandom is the biggest reason that I love being a sports fan. Fandom creates community from pure strangers. It connects people in a web of shared joy, anger, pure bliss and utter pain. It is a unifying force that is blind to any differences among people, whether it’s different nationalities or different political views. It cuts across these disagreements under a single agreement of which team is better. Fandom is embodied by the energy and noise in a stadium as each team comes onto the field or when a game-breaking play occurs. Regardless of who you are, where you’ve been or what you look like, you’re guaranteed to be accepted with open arms (or high-fives) by fellow fans. That amazing feeling is what Fandom means to me.
JR: Fandom to me is so beautiful because there is no right or wrong way to be fan. You don’t need a degree, you don’t need a job, you don’t even need to have your life figured out in the slightest to be a fan. Sports provides us with an opportunity to believe in something beyond what we encounter in our own personal lives, a connection that often brings emotions we may not normally feel from other our other actions. To feel that connection with a team or a player requires nothing more than the belief that you are a part of the experience. Beyond emotion, fandom to me represents our free-will. No one makes you like a certain team or player, you just find an interest and you chase it. Sounds kind of like the pursuit of dreams, huh?
What is your favorite moment that defines true “fandom” in sports?
JR: Let’s go with the most recent example: last Sunday, January 20th, 2013. My brother and I have been life-long fans of the San Francisco 49ers but they are the only one of our favorite teams that we’ve never seen play in person. So when the 49ers can to Atlanta to play the Falcons for the NFC Championship, I didn’t bother to look at ticket prices before purchasing 2 seats to the game. Needless to say, the Georgia Dome provided an extremely hostile environment for opposing fans and the noise only escalated when the Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead. But by the grace of sports gods, I was seated around 6 other 49ers fans and we found resolve in each other’s fanhood. After each 49ers score, we quietly celebrated together. But when the clock struck zero with our Niners on top, we threw quiet and reserved out the window. Jumping and yelling with our arms around each other, the 8 of us had come from all different tracks of life to be there that day but in that moment, we were family.
DR: In 2008, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a game at the old Yankee Stadium before it was demolished. It was August, nearing the end of my summer internship in NYC and I knew I had to make a farewell visit. However, I couldn’t find anyone to accompany me so decided to “screw it” and buy a solo ticket to the game (two rows from the fence in left). What transpired was Fandom at its finest. When I arrived to watch batting practice, I immediately met a dad and son (both lifetime Yankees fans) and by the first inning we were buying each other beers. I also befriended a young couple, an older gentleman and a family of four all seated around me. We high-fived after every Yankees run and took turns heckling the opposing team’s left-fielder. We never knew each other before that day, but Fandom brought us together as best of friends for a few hours.
Which team’s (college or professional) fan base best embodies your definition of “fandom?”
DR: A tough choice given that there are several teams with strong and supportive fan bases. Plus, it’s hard to be unbiased given my own fan experience. That said, I swear I’m not taking the easy way out, but I truly believe that the greatest feeling of “Fandom” comes during the Olympics. The way the whole sports world takes a backseat for a few short weeks to watch each country’s greatest athletes compete at the world stage is awe-inspiring. It doesn’t matter what sport you like, what sport you watch or even whether you’ve heard of a sport at all. As soon as you see “U.S.A,” you’re united with over 300 million other people that are proud, excited and happy to cheer for the same team alongside you. The way an Olympic athlete or team can captivate and unite a nation just embodies the greatest form of Fandom.
JR: Oh man, this question is just asking for a biased opinion! First let me say that while I love professional sports and pinnacle of world-class athletes, fan-bases tend to fluctuate due to various reasons associated with the teams being a “business.” With that being said, there is NOTHING that compares to being in the student section of The Swamp on a Saturday night to watch the Florida Gators play football. The camaraderie and connection you feel to a college team is unmatched but the feeling I got when wearing my orange and blue was more than I could have imagined. No matter where I am in the world, whenever I am wearing Gator apparel, I will get countless head nods associated with a simple “Go Gators.” There is a reason why we call ourselves “The Gator Nation.” We represent any and all Gator fans everywhere and whether you are an alumnus or just a fan, we welcome you with our mightiest chomp.
Your Turn – tell us if you agree with our thoughts or if you’d answer the questions differently…