A Guide to Good Fanhood

December 5, 2012 by Contributor Brent Williams
Being a fan has nothing to do with wins and losses

It’s about the time and effort an individual puts forth in support of their team. Now, a winning team is certainly easy to root for however there is something to be said for dedication and loyalty. Nobody chose where they were born and as a result certain sports fans have it easier than others (I’m looking in your direction Patriots fans).

As a life-long sports fan I have seen the majesty of sport bring out the best and worst in people. While the concept of a “good fan” is objective and can be debated, the following guidelines will help supporters avoid being an “annoying fan” at the very least.

1. Know your team

Don’t just memorize the flashy names that everybody talks about. It is important to know the support players who allow the stars to do their thing. Every solid fan should be able to name at least two offensive linemen and the backup quarterback. These guys won’t make highlight reels every week but they play vital roles in the overall success of
the team.

2. Learn the game

An obvious element of fanhood for any sport is an understanding of the game itself. The best way to learn is by watching games. You will start to recognize situational elements, strategy, and player roles. Football is a complex game which may be overwhelming at first, but once you get the basics the rest will come with time.

3. Support the local team

While it’s fun to watch and support whichever teams are playing well, part of being a fan is sticking by your side through thick and thin. There were a lot of Cowboy fans in the early ‘90s who had never been to Dallas. Generally where people were born or where they grew up determine which team they root for. If you’re an adult and you don’t have a team because you’re new to the sport, support the local team. There are those who claim to be a diehard Giants fan because their Uncle’s second wife was from New York and they spent some time there during the holidays. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re regular Super Bowl contenders. Don’t be this person.

4. If you are going to heckle opposing fans,
put time and effort into it

Yelling “you suck” is no longer an acceptable form of heckling. Take some time to research your opponent and their weaknesses or recent shortcomings. This way if the time arises, you can present an educated front when talking trash. Part of being a fan is protecting your house, so do what you can to make the opposition feel uncomfortable but be smart about it.

5. If you dish it, you have to take it

Once the trash talking seal has been broken, it can freely go both ways. There’s nothing worse than an opposing fan who runs their mouth over three quarters then is nowhere to be found when your team is mounting a comeback. If you choose to vocalize your discontent for another fan, you have to man up and take it when the tables are turned.

6. Hold your team accountable, but still root for them

It’s normal to get frustrated when your team isn’t playing well. Take it all in stride and don’tbail at the first heartbreak. The benefit of sticking by your team is the hope that next year willbe different. When success is achieved, it will be even sweeter having stuck it out through the rough times.

7. Embrace the fact that you don’t know everything

Be open to new information, even if it contradicts what you feel is accurate. Nobody likes the know-it-all fan that is consistently wrong but can’t admit it. If you still feel you are right, utilize available resources and Google it. Once the matter is settled, either feel good that you were right or humbled that you were wrong. There are worse things in life than learning.

8. Hindsight is 20-20.

You are likely not a coach, a player, or an owner; you are a fan. It’s easy to play call from your couch when you aren’t held accountable for anything. As with many things in life, there are probably more elements to the situation than you are aware. Decisions always seem wrong when they don’t work. It’s fine to vocalize your opinion of what should have been done, but keep in mind that there’s a reason you’re calling sports talk radio shows on Monday instead of making the decisions on Sunday.

9. Be aware of the game situation and respond accordingly

If your team is down by 21 points with minutes left in the 4th quarter, it’s not the time to excessively celebrate a sack. On the other hand, a two yard run for a first down to keep a drive alive can be cause for jubilation. Learning the game itself and paying attention are vital to this concept. Speaking from experience, it’s truly embarrassing to start cheering then realize you are the only one because you weren’t aware of the game situation.

10. At the end of the day, it’s just a game.

It’s very sad to read articles about fans who suffer bodily harm or worse due to their choice of fanhood. We’ve seen reports about stabbings, shootings, fights, and other unacceptable behavior at football games. A true fan was born into it; therefore you can’t fault another fan for being true to their team. Even if your team wins the Super Bowl, you are no better than a Browns fan who has endured some frustrating seasons as of late. There is no excuse for fan on fan violence. Remember, it’s only a game and you are only a spectator.