As we're often reminded by the sports media, the word "fan" is short for "fanatic." It always bothers me when I hear someone like Colin Cowherd say it, because it's always dripping with condescension. But there's no denying that sports fans can get a little loony.
Fanaticism can be really endearing and entertaining. Ridiculous face painting, elaborate costumes and strange superstitions all come with the territory, and how about those adorable little kid super fans on YouTube, bawling their eyes out after a loss. Awww.
It can also be really annoying. There are so many different types of sports fans out there, and the harsh reality is that most of them are annoying. And I'm not just being judgmental of the general public, I freely admit that I have fallen into almost half of these categories at one point or another.
The most serious sports fans fall into many of these. And for those they don't fall into, they probably have someone in their life that does. So let's take a look at the 21 most annoying types of sports fans.
We've all seen it before—your team is tanking in the big game and as their chance for a comeback decreases, the alcohol consumption in the room increases. And as the alcoholic consumption in the room increases, so does the number of "couch coaches."
"Couch coaches" are a special breed of sports drunk that believe consuming a half-case of Colt 45 makes them qualified to make personnel decisions for their team. Barking said decisions at the television is their preferred method of communication.
I experienced this first-hand at a party during Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers were down, our blood alcohol levels were up, and one party guest was certain that the only thing standing between the black and gold and victory was Mike Tomlin's refusal to put Charlie Batch in the game.
There are plenty of stats for fans of almost any sport to obsess over but, generally speaking, most obsessive stats guys are baseball guys.
This is particularly annoying if you really dislike the uncompetitive welfare state that MLB has become. And also, I don't mean to further gender stereotypes, but I'm just not into math—not even sports-related math.
I don't care what A-Rod's batting average is on cloudy Mondays in June. I don't care how many times Albert Pujols has struck out on summer days that are below 81 degrees.
And I really don't care about Billy Beane's bull crap formula on how to assemble a below-average baseball team on a budget that lucks itself into a pennant win every other decade.
Although it varies drastically by city and circumstances, every team has a certain percentage of fans that can be classified as "Negative Nellies." In any given sports scenario: An optimist sees the glass as half full, a pessimist sees the glass as half empty and someone with "Negative Nelly" syndrome sees the glass completely empty, with only the remnants of the poison he just ingested remaining.
The severity of the syndrome various drastically. Those who are mildly afflicted are prone to doomsday hyperbole about the consequences of a single loss or player injury.
Those with a more severe affliction are prone to drastic mood swings, misplaced rage/affection, suicidal/homicidal threats—all of which can shift suddenly from minute to minute. These types usually even find tragic fault with a loss—being around them is exhausting.
I have a number of people like this in my life and have found that the severity of the symptoms can be multiplied exponentially by excessive amounts of alcohol.
There are jersey foul offenders in most sports that require a uniform with a name on the back. That being said, as a serious NHL fan, I feel comfortable saying that hockey fans are the worst of the worst when it comes to jersey fouls.
I've put together a few of the worst offenders (clockwise):
1. Seriously—"Tebow LOL"—what the hell is that all about. Tebow plays football and I'm pretty sure that's a Buffalo Sabres jersey, so he doesn't even play football in the same city.
2. Seriously—"The Black Guy"—I'm not going to say it's "racist," because I'm sure it's just this dude's attempt at comedy. But c'mon! Next time spring for "the black guy's" jersey.
3. You non-hockey fans out there might be wondering why a Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky jersey constitutes a "foul." Well, that's a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and he never played a day in that uniform.
4. No. No. No.
I actually haven't had much experience with the over-the-top tailgaters of the world—it's a rare (but blessed) occasion that I find myself in possession of Steelers tickets.
I know it's huge in college, particularly in the South, but I went to the University of Pittsburgh and the stadium was 60 percent empty for most games. That being said, I don't have to be a regular tailgater to understand that there is a fine line between endearing and annoying and it's crossed far too often.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with cooking some burgers and crushing some brew in the parking lot for a few hours before the game. But if you need a television, surround sound, a carpet, a couch and full kitchen's worth of food just to enjoy the game, perhaps you should just watch from home.
You know what I'm talking about here—the impossibly optimistic fans out there who remain so, despite a decade plus of absolute futility. As a Pittsburgh native and a former Pirates fan, I both admire and despise the unbridled optimism of the Buccos' most faithful following.
On one hand, I respect anyone who can find a silver lining after 20 years of embarrassing failures. On the other hand, accepting and defending the status quo helps ensure another decade under .500.
I will conclude with a message to the eternally optimistic fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Charlotte Bobcats, Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Browns and all other teams that are flailing in a black hole of suck—you're all crazy, yet awesome.
I hate to group all "celebrity fans" together because, when it comes to the game, most of them are just like us—only with hella better seats. Of course, most is certainly not all.
And just like most of us, celebrities have been known to occasionally cross the line into "douchebag behavior" territory. But the key difference is that when underwear king Calvin Klein storms the court to yell at someone, he's escorted back to his seat by friendly security folks.
If you or I pulled that same stunt at a Knicks game, we'd be dragged out of the building by angry security guards and probably carted off to jail and charged with terroristic threats or something.
The unabashed homer is loud, proud and, like the honey badger, he just don't care. He writes irate emails to reasonable sports journalists, leaves borderline crazy comments all over the interwebs, and has two "pros" for every "con" you throw his way.
He's here, he's queer and he's probably drinking beer—so get used to it. (He may or may not be queer, I couldn't come up with another word to rhyme)
The unabashed homer is definitely annoying, but at least he's honest with himself and others. Unlike...
The homer who denies he's a homer is exactly the same as the unabashed homer, except he will deny his homer-ness to the death. Throw reason, rationality, and even reality out the window when you're dealing with this guy.
All the drinkers out there have had to deal with the "not drunk" drunk friend who is bound and determined to show the entire world that he's not drunk. Pretty much the same concept, only the "not drunk" drunk friend doesn't make you wish you were dead.
The loving of bench warmers usually starts at the collegiate level, where it's not really annoying. Usually it's a coping mechanism that helps fans get through the bad years: "Things may look bleak now, but just wait until our blue-chip quarterback prospect is starting in a couple of years!"
Truth or delusion, it makes people feel better. When people love bench warmers in professional sports, it's often carried over from collegiate sports. But, much like that resurrected cat from Pet Sematary, there's something not quite right about it.
For example: My boyfriend was once convinced that Gary Russell was the next great Steelers running back and was intent on convincing everyone else. He saw Russell play in college and went on to explain that he was notoriously overweight as a player at Minnesota, before flunking out of school entirely and…
Who knows where it went from there. All I do remember was that it lasted for three full seasons—exactly the length of Russell's NFL career.
Hey, no judgment, fantasy freaks. I get seriously into my fantasy football teams each year and have been known to obsess more often as the season wears on and injuries mount. Hell, I'm even the commissioner of one of the leagues I'm in—obviously the most awesome league.
But fantasy football season is only about 16 weeks per year and there's only one game each week for teams. Which means that technically there's no reason this hobby should ever become like another full-time job.
I've created a fantasy checklist to diagnose addicts. If you can answer "yes" to four or more of the following questions, you are probably annoying—seek professional help if you answer "yes" to six or more:
1. Do you participate in two or more fantasy sports?
2. Do you have more than two teams in any one of the fantasy sports you participate in?
3. Do you and your significant other routinely argue about the amount of time you devote to fantasy sports?
4. Do you hassle your fantasy players/prospects via Twitter about their injury status?
5. Have you ever cried about anything fantasy sports-related?
6. Have you ever been involved in a physical altercation over something fantasy sports-related?
7. Do you spend more than an hour of your work day tending to fantasy-related matters (this includes harassing co-workers about their fantasy performance)?
8. Do you have any clothing, bumper stickers, office supplies or anything else made specially with the name of your fantasy league or team?
The condescending "football" fan might be less familiar to you than most of the other fan types on this list. A condescending "football" fan would probably say that it's because you're an ignorant American without a passport who probably couldn't find your own country on a globe.
I've actually heard some version of that via comments or Twitter on countless occasions. And I've found it's best not to engage because challenging stereotypes usually makes people angry. But you know what—I have traveled internationally and visit a number of international websites on a daily basis.
And not one time have I lectured someone in another country about them calling soccer "football." Nor have I felt the need to menace writers in another country about their lack of "American football" knowledge/coverage.
That's because I'm not a condescending douche. Wanna know what I'm talking about—here's a comment from condescending, lecturing reader Nick Varney:
On 10. the reason you don't lecture people for calling "soccer" football is because deep down you know football is the correct name for my nations, and the whole Worlds outside the US and Australia, national sport. It's been called football a lot longer than before American football was created. Hell, it was an English guy at Havard who started it as a variation of Rugby. The writers on this site should read before posting the crap they do.
I should clarify that I have no problem with soccer—I played for over a decade—but there's something that just doesn't sit right with me about an American with a vuvuzela and a viking hat sitting next to a dude dressed like Uncle Sam. It's weird, right?
There are some American soccer fans who feel like they have to overcompensate for the rest of us to impress the international audience—these people make us all look bad. I make it a personal point to never reward mediocrity, especially in sports.
You can go to a soccer game with 100 vuvuzelas, but it's not going to change the fact that our national men's team recently lost to El Salvador.
I'm not sure when the "hater" and the "hater, hater" culture completely took over sports, but my gut tells me it's all LeBron James' fault!!!
Cue the hate comments from the over-sensitive LeBron fanatics who don't realize this very talented, very rich, very successful superstar doesn't need them to fight his battles.
Now cue the hate comments from all the LeBron "haters" who seize on any and every opportunity to paint this very talented and unselfish superstar as Satan himself.
Now cue me rolling my eyes and begging everyone to just stop it already.
This is an annoying fan that really needs no introduction—everyone knows (or knows of) plenty of bandwagon fans.
When "their" team is plodding around at .500, calling these people "casual fans" would be an overstatement. When the team is plodding around anywhere below .500, it might as well not even exist.
But in the midst of a record-breaking winning streak, national fervor over a surprising rookie sensation or toward the tail end of a promising playoff run—these are the loudest, proudest, most enthusiastic fans on the planet.
This one really speaks for itself. There's nothing worse than paying a few hundred dollars for the pleasure of spending and afternoon staring at the ass of the inconsiderate jag in front of you who refuses to sit the heck down.
I don't know what's wrong with people, but I do know that if that kid were sitting in front of me at a sporting event, there's no way that sign leaves in one piece.
There are plenty of wives and girlfriends out there who legitimately love sports. They loved sports before they got involved with their men and they'll love sports just the same when and if they ever part with their men.
Then there are the Jessica Simpson types. Remember when she was dating Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and was the biggest Cowboys fan that ever lived in the history of the entire world? Anyone seen her at Cowboys Stadium recently?
The girls who don't know a damn thing about the game and can't go 30 seconds without asking "What just happened???"
The girls who insist on talking about shopping on the phone with God knows who during the game.
The girls who shout "It's just a game!" every time someone is upset about a bad beat.
The girls who wear shrunken pink jerseys, despite the fact that the team's colors are not pink.
I'm actually not sure how prevalent "texting you from the game" guy is. I have more than one of them in my life, so I just assume that some other poor bastards out there do, too.
The screen capture I posted is the typical exchange you can expect with a "texting you from the game" guy. Let's file it under: "It was funny the first time," and move on.
Cranky old folks all have their own reasons for talking incessantly about the awesome days of yore and lamenting the current state of the game—and the world in general.
Sometimes it's because of the team's past glory days and knowing they'll likely never experience that kind of greatness again.
Can't blame New York Islanders fans for living in the past.
Sometimes they are just cranky old people who like complaining about everything. So, obviously MLB used to be better back when everyone had to walk 10 miles in the rain, uphill both ways, just to take in a game.
And sometimes they are like New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick—old, scared and angry—and desperately lashing out at what he perceives as the "problem." Obviously he's unable to see that he's the real problem.
I long for the "good old days" too—a time before I knew about this guy. Click here for the expanded photo.
There are few things in this world that are more painful to listen to than someone who thinks he's funny, but is actually tragically unfunny.
If the government really wants to get potential terrorists to talk, they should skip the waterboarding and just sit suspects down with a couple of Dane Cook's "comedy" specials—they would be singing like canaries within hours.
In any large enough circle of friends there is usually one genuinely funny person, a few folks who have their funny moments, one or two strangely serious people and one loudmouth who thinks he's hysterical, but isn't. Obviously this isn't an exact science, but a theory I've developed after years of experience.
If you have some friends over on game day, you'll only have to deal with your own unfunny guy, but if you've got tickets to the game, you could be subjected the unfunny guys from countless other social circles.
They'll be the dudes all around you—screaming unfunny insults at opposing fans, doing the running man trying to attract the attention of the JumboTron camera man and trying to gain momentum for chants with swearwords, even when there's nothing to be angry about.
The know-it-all is undoubtedly one of the most irritating personalities to contend with in any facet of life—including sports—and almost everyone has a know-it-all in their lives.
If you're unable to identify this person in your life, you are probably this person in the lives of everyone you know. It's never too late to change.
Know-it-all's are like snowflakes—no two are exactly alike. But they do share a few common traits/habits, such as:
1. When in groups, they start most of their sentences with the word "Actually…"
2. They keep a running tally of everything they've ever been right about since birth and are quick to remind others of their "successes."
3. They conveniently forget about everything they've ever been wrong about since birth and are quick to change the subject when broached by others.
4. They usually confuse being derided by large numbers of people with being popular.