If you’ve seen the musical “Grease,” you know why that title is funny. At one point, Principal McGee tells students to go to the homecoming game because even “if you can’t be an athlete, [you can] be an athletic supporter.” (Grease: IMDB) While I could dedicate an entirely different post to how quotable and underrated Principal McGee is, I’d rather focus on what good can come from being a sports fan in any capacity (sporadically of course because I am in the middle of rooting the most attractive and successful team in the NHL on to their Stanley Cup victory).
What Principal McGee said was true: not everybody can be an athlete. There are only so many people who can go on to become professional athletes, and quite honestly, as much fun as they claim they have making their six and seven figure salaries, I think the fans are enjoying themselves even more. In what other instance can you be inspired to yell at the top of your lungs, use clothes to identify people as friends or foes and hug strangers with full acceptance? The world of being a fan is full of that kind of camaraderie and more, and some people don’t realize just how easy it is to be a fan.
If you currently wouldn’t classify yourself as a fan of any sport, first off, I’m sorry. You must feel slightly unfulfilled. The good news is that it is easy to get involved. Pick a sport you believe will interest you, and trust me, there will be one that will interest you. After that, find that superfan friend of yours and ask questions. Ask to watch a game with them, Ask who to support (I strongly recommend any and all teams from Chicago. I’m biased, but I know I’m not wrong). Start watching and learning. Becoming a fan really doesn’t take all that much research in the beginning; it just takes some time.
Once you have a sport, a team, and a friend or two to start breaking things down, you’re on your way. Repeat the process and pick another sport. The more the merrier with sports as far as I’m concerned. You don’t need to be an expert, and if you aren’t one, please do not pretend to be. I certainly don’t claim to be one, and nobody likes the person who tries unsuccessfully to be one. On the other hand, while I just said asking questions is the way to learn, try not to ask them constantly throughout the game. Nobody likes that person either.
As a fan, you are afforded opportunities that people who don’t find sports interesting will never have. You get to look forward to Monday Night Football, the World Series, three point buzzer beaters and hat tricks among a variety of other things (Yes, I am more than aware that these things all belong to different sports. That was my goal.) Those little joys start to add up, and if you pick a good team, they can carry you pretty far through a long Tuesday or a boring week. Being that kind of happy and excited has to be good for you, especially if you can make it consistent, so bask in it. Along with that, you get the bonding I talked about earlier. Fans of the same team form an unofficial brotherhood, and who doesn’t want that? The benefits of adding athletic supporting to your life far outweigh any kind of risk.
Now, I know what some of you may think, or honestly may not even be aware of if you are new to the team following game: the fair-weather fan label. I’m not condoning or chastising fair-weather fans (people who claim to be die-hard dedicated to a team only when that team is winning. You tend to hear about fair-weather fans jumping on bandwagons.). They are who they are. I am not telling you to be a fair-weather fan though. I am suggesting that you find something that you will be interested in and committed to. Despite this, there will no doubt be one person who feels the urge to question your dedication to your new found sport. All I can say is not to worry about them. If they have time to question you, they are clearly not focusing enough energy on yelling at the television. Now, if you’ll excuse me, we’re about halfway through the second period and nobody has scored. That means it’s time for me to stop trying to type while watching.