As sports fans, we do some crazy stuff to show support for our teams.
We spend all day reading or commenting about our favorite players, paint our faces—even though no one in their mid-20s should ever do so—and drop some serious coin to travel for a road or championship game.
That's why I'm giving you the essential things that every sports fan needs. Fall short on these, and there's no way you can call yourself an epic fan.
Back in college at UK, I was right in the heart of Bengals country.
This was tough for a few reasons.
One, I'm a diehard Browns fan, making it difficult to agree (or care) about anything my friends talked about when it came to their NFL teams.
And two, each Sunday when I wanted to set up shop hungover on the couch to watch football, I had to watch Cincy play each week, costing me a chance to see my beloved Dawg Pound.
As a poor college kid, Sunday Ticket wasn't an option. But now that I have my own place and some cash, you better believe I've invested in the greatest sports channel ever created.
We've all seen some seriously sick throwbacks over the years, and while I personally think they're becoming a bit too cliche these days, that doesn't mean a fan shouldn't own one.
My personal favorite is the Sam Perkins Sonics jersey I like to wear on occasion, but there are plenty of other options that fans have out there to show they've endured all the pain and glory of a particular team.
Welcome to me admitting that social media has officially taken over our lives.
With so many athletes (and writers) using their Twitter pages to interact with fans on a daily basis—along with posting some regrettable things—not having an account definitely pulls you away from the news cycle and trending conversations amongst fans.
You might not like posting 140 characters about God knows what, but you should be interested in what athletes, teams, media and other fans have to say.
Now I'm not saying your mid-20s self should go down to the railing before every game and throw elbows to get the little kids out of the way. But yes, you should have a signature on something other than a piece of paper from your favorite athlete.
I remember growing up and writing letters to guys like Mario Lemieux, Cal Ripken Jr. and Michael Jordan in hopes they'd send something back in return.
Almost every time, I'd get a photo signed by them with a standard "thank you for being a fan" letter.
Even though we never met, and they probably never read my note, it felt cool at age eight to get some recognition from them.
I know that Snuggies might not be the coolest-looking things out there, but as someone who actually has one—yeah, I admitted it—they're pretty damn comfortable.
Whether you're just cozying up on your couch or making the trip to a blistery tailgate in December, wearing a blanket that looks like a cloak is absolutely the way to go.
Plus, you might just end up with a world record because of one—just as Cavs fans did.
I've mentioned in the past how I'm not particularly a fantasy sports guy in any sport other than football, but with so many different leagues out there, it shouldn't diminish anyone else's ability to play them.
Having a fantasy team keeps fans involved, lets them create friendly (or completely real) rivalries with other friends or strangers and gives them a chance to try their hand at actually managing their own squad—even if millions of dollars isn't on the line.
The best part? You can't be fired for having multiple first-round busts like real GMs.
It's said that art often imitates life.
And thanks to some amazing sports movies that have been made, all sports fans have plenty of options to choose their favorite of the bunch.
It doesn't matter if the reviews of Space Jam might not have been great, or that Mighty Ducks 3 didn't live up to the first two in the series. All that matters is that you love the ones you do for whatever reason and would gladly waste a day watching every Rocky movie regardless of what the critics say of each one.
I don't care how old you are. One of the best things about sports is that the memories of a team or player will always stick with someone.
But those memories—good and bad—are less genuine when a fan changes allegiances every few years, jumping on bandwagons of the good teams whenever they want to.
Pick a team and player. Support them. Cry over their losses. Let tears of joy roll in celebration, and regardless of how painful it is at times, stick by their side till death do you part.
As important as it is to actually select a favorite team and player, finding the true villain to that team is just as crucial.
Picking a person (or people) and team (or teams) that you just absolutely despise will only make your fan experience that much better, giving you either heartache or bragging rights until the two squads meet again.
Trust me, we know that arguing sports is a sticky situation and should be handled with care.
We've seen fan fights and torn friendships or families. There have been billions of negative comments on websites ever since the Internet began. And regardless of how on point you are with stats or research on a particular subject, you'll rarely win or actually change the other person's mind.
That doesn't mean you should just sit back and hold your feelings inside, though.
You're a fan. Let it be known what makes you pissed off or what you believe in—no matter how ridiculous it might sound.
Sports are filled with some crazy superstitions.
From guys growing crazy beards out in the hope that it brings them luck during a playoff run, to players and fans turning their hats inside out for a late-game rally, when something weird works in helping your team win, it should be more than just coincidence.
So whether that means wearing the same underwear to every game you go to, not washing your sheets during an unexpected title run or going through the same routine each day, it might be weird, but that's what makes being a sports fan so beautiful.
This should be anything that can be told over a few beers, at your favorite watering hole or to friends who are willing to listen to every detail for the next 20 minutes.
From sneaking into Yankees Stadium for Game 7 of the '04 ALCS to see Damon secure the comeback with his grand slam, to weaseling your way past security in order to get onto the field at the Super Bowl, every sports fan should have something so incredible that their friends almost can't believe what they're hearing.
While at my buddy's place the other night for dinner, he was showing me the soon-to-be nursery room for his daughter.
Talking to me about the color scheme and how he and his wife are looking to make it "pretty girly," I couldn't help but ask what he was planning on doing with the signed and framed Titans Steve McNair jersey hanging on the wall.
"Oh, that's staying, bro. We're bringing this girl up right."
Although I personally hate the way LeBron James screwed Cleveland on national TV when he left for South Beach in 2010, I can't kid myself in thinking that the guy isn't the greatest basketball player on the planet—especially with back-to-back titles and already four league MVPs in his career.
And as a Cavs fan, I'd love to see them both make a run at the playoffs this year with budding star Kyrie Irving and other key parts while literally praying that LeBron returns next offseason. But am I expecting it to happen? Hell no.
Sports teaches people humility—or at least it should—so even though you can't stand another team or player, that doesn't mean your ignorance should show because of it.
Want to ditch the homemade sign that leaves you pleading with people on the streets who actually have tickets?
Of course you do.
So take the financial leap of faith and show just how loyal you are to your team by attending as many home games as possible.
Being there firsthand not only gives you something to do almost every night (depending on the sport), but it also gives you bragging rights to all your cheap friends who just watch games on TV.