Thursday, September 15, 2011

The philosophy of the fair-weather fan: I'm a fan, not a fanatic!

The other day I emailed my college roommate to give him a friendly ribbing when “my” Buffalo Bills demolished “his” Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City 41-7 in week 1 of the NFL season.  He’s from the Kansas City area and he used to go to Chiefs games quite often.  I have been following the Bills since the beginning of their four Super Bowl losses (well technically I wanted the Giants to win that first one and for some reason started rooting then on for the Bills).  Anyway, he pointed out that I was being a “fair-weather fan.”  For those unfamiliar with the term, “fair-weather fan” basically refers to someone who only cheers for a team when that team is winning.
Of course I chuckled at his friendly ribbing, but as a sports fan it got me thinking, is it really so bad to care only about a team when they are successful?  Early this season, I went to a Colorado Rockies game and sat in $40 seats in the lower level in the foul ground of left field.  Unfortunately since then the Rockies have been pretty dismal, from starting out strong in April and leading their division early, they now find themselves 16.5 games out of first place and 8 games under .500.  Just last week I got a special offer in my email for 2 for $20 tickets.  I was interested, because I like baseball and that’s a pretty good offer, so I looked to see what seats were available.  Sure enough, the seats I had sat in earlier in the season that were going for $40 were now being offered $10 each as part of this special! That’s 75% if my math is correct!  Why were the seats so cheap? Because the Rockies are no good and not entertaining; who wants to watch a team that loses more than 50% of the time?
There’s this philosophy in sports fandom that if you only cheer for a team when they are winning you are not a “true” fan, instead you are a “bandwagon” jumper or fair-weather fan.  My question is why is this such a bad thing? Now I’m not making excuses for someone who simply chooses a new favorite team every week; those folks are silly and not worth my time.  Rather, I’m talking about the people who think that “suffering” through all those bad moments, tough losses, and losing moments make them a better fan than a person like myself who only pays attention when the team is successful. 
Here’s something to consider; must I go see every movie that my favorite actor or actress stars in, even if the movie gets terrible reviews?  Must I keep going back to eat at a restaurant that I initially liked even if the quality of the food takes a terrible downturn?  Must I keep watching a TV show I enjoyed for the first few seasons (say Chuck for example) if the storylines are constantly the same and the plotlines bore me?  Why would I do this? So why would I waste my limited time on a team that just isn’t “quality?”
I remember in high school I would watch sports whenever it was on, luckily the mass exodus of sporting events to cable TV had not yet fully taken place (since my family didn’t have cable).  In college I made sure I was able to watch every single Yankees playoff game.  Now, I find myself unwilling to spend more than an hour or two watching a Yankees game (for crying out loud, I missed the final outs of their 2009 championship to go to the movies with my wife)!  Am I a horrible fan? No, I just have priorities. My time is valuable to me, there is only so much to go around; there is my wife, my job, my education, my exercise… Time for watching sports goes way down the list.  Also, financially I am somewhat limited as well, and I’m only going to pay for something if I consider it worthwhile. People assign different values to objects based on a multitude of factors, but for me, if I’m going to spend money on something, I want it to be on something of quality; paying to watch a losing team isn’t valuable to me just as watching a losing team isn’t worth my time.
Does that make me less of a fan? I’d like to think it makes me a better fan, I demand a good product; put a good product on the field and I will watch.  Look at the Chicago Cubs, they have tons of fans that support them no matter what and they haven’t won a championship in like 100 years! And on the other end of the spectrum, I certainly don’t want to be like those crazies or diehards who have no logic or reason when it comes to supporting their sports teams.  Denver Broncos fans want to spend $10,000 to put up billboards demanding Tim Tebow be made the starting quarterback! Really! At least Tebow had the common sense to wish the money would be given to charity instead.  M
Maybe I am a fair-weather fan, but I think I’m ok with that. And if you only read my blogs that you think are “quality,” I’m ok with that too. ;)

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