Fan-demoneium: A Love/Hate Relationship

*I tried to make this as fluid as possible.


I've never been great at many things in my life, I've just always been alright and I can tell you right now that I'm really only getting my legs in this world of hockey(esp. w/ my teams: Columbus and Philadelphia) I have barely begun to scratch the surface with understanding this great game that I have become so addicted to....In a nutshell what I'm getting at is that I don't know much but I know I have a new found love for this game that we call hockey.

It was a recent encounter that has transpired in the past few weeks that led to this post.  I felt like it appropriate to rant and rave about something that I know we have all experienced at one point in time in our lives. (Since most of you are located in Columbus, I'm sure the rivalry of OSU vs. Michigan has been almost an inseparable part of your life since day 1. Point being, you either do or you will understand.) 

That being said, I know my opinions are just that...opinions. It doesn't make me right(doesn't necessarily make me wrong) because if what I was saying was a for sure thing it would no longer be my opinion, it would be a fact. Now my opinion that I'm trying to convey intelligibly is that I find it interesting when we all feel so strongly about something, and in this case a sports team, that we let our pride with a team cloud our own judgment so much that we literally lose control of ourselves and our seem to throw logic right out the window. I'm not saying that I'm innocent w/o any type of prejudice towards teams because...well...I have at least a few. I do believe I've got better at controlling urges to blurt out whatever ridiculous response I can think of when taking offense to what another fan has said and each day I try to remind myself that they aren't fans of who you like....they are entitled to disagree, but...

Are they entitled to act like you are sub-human if you don't go along with what they say? or think? Well, kind of yeah but there are consequences that come with that type of F'ed up thinking.

Now there will be some scenarios in sports that will have outside influences that lead to the unfortunate occurrence(alcohol being the main culprit) but sometimes it just plain fervor that takes hold of seemingly sane people and gets them to do some really stupid things that leaves a bad taste in a city's mouth. Also, leaving a lasting image with the outside world that will continually try to use these situations to throw in your face years after it is all said and done.

(Remember when the Browns had the beer bottle throwing incident. I do believe it had a hand in leading to vendors proveying substances in plastic instead of glass.) (As a side thought, it hasn't really stopped too many people from trying. Ever been a rock concert? Usually a few beer bottles get turn into projectiles, thudding on top of unsuspecting peoples head.  My only thought is, "What a waste of 6 bucks.")

Continuing on with the matter at hand....

These people have a title, I like to call these crazed people, FANatics - people doing/saying some of the most outrageous things for a team just because their love for them goes deep into their very soul. Prob. not the best def. but bare with me... These are people that are completely and solely dependent on whatever-it-is they are worshipping, and neither you or I could tell them anything contrary to their beliefs.You can fill in with your own definition if you would long as your get the pretty picture that I'm trying to paint for you.

Now I do believe that believing in something is better then believing in nothing at all. Fans are what make some teams who they are(look at the Raiders nation for example or Montreal even) They are the people that make going to some of these events worthwhile. They get people fired up. They get the ordinary fans and turn them into extraordinary fans. They are the people that are hard to ignore. These people bring positive points to the table. These fans mean so much to the sports world and these people are the much needed blood that fuels the athletic machine; but this does come with a hefty price tag attached to it. When these people take it upon themselves to say and do things in the name of because of some sort of disagreement with what is transpiring with their organization(bad management, losses, other fans, etc.) People are entitled to their opinions and all that jazz but

a.)Where should you draw a line?

b.)When does someone's fanaticism become upsetting, ignorant or down-right scary?

c.)Does winning entitle people to be complete A-holes?

I recently posted an argument I had with a fan of a rival team because a simple conversation was turned very volatile by consistent bashing of my team(Columbus) by his team(Detroit) and how they are SO MUCH BETTER. Now I'm not disagreeing that he didn't have a point in saying that Detroit is a better team because they are, they have a consistent history of winning and they are a team that really sets a standard in our league/division/conference. The facts are hard to argue against but unfortunately I don't think he realized for even a second that I hadn't said one word against Detroit besides the fact I thought they were going to be losing some players soon to age. I don't really have a love of Mo-Town but I'm not blind to the fact that they are a Championship winning team and there is a level of respect that I give them but unfortunately I was not returned the fact I was verbally spat on, over and over and over and over.... Actually the problem really stems from him being so comfortable with sitting at the top with his team that all he needs to do is flash his team's history in your face and you are supposedly going to scurry away from the bright light of inarguable truth. Maybe. Maybe if many of his own opinions on MY team weren't so totally and completely wrong.

Is it wrong to bask in your team's achievements? ...No, I've stated this before. It's fine to be happy with your team and to be proud of their accomplishments, esp. if they have enjoyed so much of it. It's wrong when you drink too much of the Kool-Aid and your senses become dulled to the fact that you condescend every other fan around you(particularly ones not looking to argue the facts, just looking to talk some hockey) it just makes you look bad and gives your beloved organization a negative image.

I really hate to bring this up to use this but looking at Philadelphia, not just the Flyers, but the whole city in general. From the Bullies, to throwing snowballs at Santa, to a guy puking on a little girl, to a guy getting tazed for running on the field at a ballgame. This city has gone through some bad incidents that have turned many people against the city of Philly(or Filth-adelphia as I hear) and it's extremely passionate fanbase. Its public incidents like these that can leave lasting marks on a city, just like a single fan can leave a negative impression of a team on a single individual they meet in their everyday walk of life. My suggestion is to pick and choose your battles wisely, or else it will be broadcasted on the 10 o'clock news the next day, or Youtube.

And don't think there is just sore winners...

There can be sore losers too. I'm practically from Cleveland so I should know a thing or two about people being sore losers. Again, it comes from just drinking too much of a team's Kool-Aid(among drinking other... beverages) and not being open-minded to teams/fans that are around you. I find that most of it comes from either a lack of knowledge outside one's comfort zone(being your fav. team(s)) or just being so hopelessly attached to a team that nothing else exists in a person's life. That's a reason why I like to at least give another team's fans a chance to speak because I don't know that much about Detroit or Pitt like I do with the Blue Jackets or the Flyers - and that's not saying too much but I am trying. I want to know more then just my teams, I want to talk hockey with anyone willing to talk hockey with me personally. I mean really think about it, it's not like by listening to other fans you are required by some sort of strange law to drop your team and all the sudden become some devoted fan of their club.  Personally, I'd hope that it shows some good sportsmanship on my part even if it means listening to  people being critical of my team. Admittingly though, there are always fine lines to which some people need to walk without going overboard and creating unnecessary tension among fans. Some ribbing is to be expect if say one team wins over another team(esp. with higher stakes involved i.e.championships or rivalries) but when it is at a constant pace and the cycle can't be broke away from it inevitably collapses along with a person's patience and get angry. 

The sports world is built off competition. To strive for the highest level of performance. Where winners can lift even the most downtrodden, depressed areas of people and make them feel like they are winner too! They can be great ways to get out and meet people just like yourself. It inspires people to reach for higher goals for themselves. These are good things about sports, but like all pros there will always be cons involved with each scenario. Sports can bring the ugly out. People argue, fight and even riot in the name of their team losing(Montreal, I'm looking at you). Players are sometimes scolded for not single-handedly winning a game for a fanbase(just ask Luongo when Florida put him up for bid on E-Bay as a washed-up goaltender, Ouch!) It takes some balls walking into some places wearing the wrong colors on your back - what is this Compton? Gang Warfare? You shouldn't have to fear for your life when you watch your team at an opposing teams arena. I'm all for debate/discussions but there needs to be a mutual understanding from both parties or it will be like running in circles trying to actually get somewhere. It won't happen! This is the way it is, you got the good, the bad and the ugly. You get fans that will want to converse and want to discuss with other teams to connect with a sport that they all mutually love, and then you get fans that don't want to hear word one about teams that aren't the ones that they themselves root for(and man, if their team is better than yours...good luck trying to get a word in! I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about with this.)

I know this whole post won't change the world of sports or the mindset of any fanbase...Hell! this is all an opinion and probably won't go much farther then this site here, which is fine...I said I wanted to write something about it so here it is. Enjoy it. Discuss it. Share moments that you feel are relative. Tell me I suck. Whatever....I'm still sitting here now trying to ponder what makes some people tick.

Maybe it's the whole natural-selection thing? Where only the strong survive and maybe that's why we attach ourselves to winners(probably why we have a word to describe those people...'bandwagoners') We all want to feel like winners and some of us don't want to wait for it and who could blame you? Its hard being apart of a fanbase that isn't as sterling as the likes of the Detroit Red Wings or New England Patriots or L.A. Lakers.

Hey, Lebron left Cleveland...proofs in the puddin'.

I hope that a few people might see this and start another riveting discussion here. I enjoy seeing the activity as much as the editors surely do. Guess I'll leave on a Jerry Moment and say this: Rivalries never go away and the smack talk won't either.... they are a integral part of sports now which help to create interest within leagues - makes games more intriguing for even the casual fan; but there are going to be times when it goes to far and the dark side of it all comes out to rear its ugly head and reminds us that it really is just a game.Isn't it?

...isn't it?

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