Fans Who Love Their Teams Too Much
What would sports be without passionate fans?
Indeed, the very joy of watching sports comes from the fact that for whatever reason, we as fans seem to feel a deep, personal, intimate connection to our teams.
We weep when they lose. We scream when they make mistakes. We smile for days when they pull off an incredible comeback victory.
But is there a point where you can take your role as a fan too far?
Does it become too much when you spiral into depression because of a football game? Is it too intense when your love for a team takes the form of a tattoo that covers your entire scalp?
This list will explore those fascinating fans that turn "passionate" into "creepy," "obsessed" into "deranged" and "invested" into "painfully melodramatic."
But most importantly, these are the fans that make sports worth watching.
Heartbroken Clemson Kid
There's a profound bit of storytelling being done here by Heartbroken Clemson Kid (HCK).
What we see is much more than a college student who's upset about a game. Rather, we witness a tale of heartbreak, betrayal and loss. The saga of HCK takes us on a journey through multiple different phases of turmoil:
There's the initial burst of anger, where HCK curses the heaves and lashes out at the world.
Then there's the moment of overwhelming sadness when the magnitude of the situation is simply too much to handle. (Side note: There is no magnitude to this situation. This is a game from the first month of the season. And it's Clemson.)
Finally, there's a period of quiet disbelief where HCK denies what has happened, refusing to accept that it is true.
And the cycle repeats.
With no end to the meltdown ever actually shown in the video, there's no reason to believe that HCK has, in fact, concluded his breakdown and moved on. Out there today, somewhere, there's a kid in an orange hat cursing the world for what could have been.
Before you leave this slide, I am genuinely begging you to mute the audio in this clip and instead play "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift (or a similar sad breakup song)—the video will take on a whole new level of emotional depth and change the way you view melodramatic fan meltdowns forever.
Shoulder Pads Guy
A pair of shoulder pads can make all the difference.
When Shaun Young, AKA "Shoulder Pads Guy," was handed a pair of shoulder pads to wear to the Eagles first home game in 1995, his life took a drastic turn for the awesome.
Since that day, Young has worn face paint and shoulder pads to every single Eagles game, home and away.
In the video above—part of Dhani Jones' In the Zone series—Young describes his transformation from regular man to Shoulder Pads Guy each Sunday.
Once those pads are on, Shaun Young ceases to exist. Like Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker pulling a mask down over his face, Young disappears into a new existence.
An icon. A legend. A hero. And most importantly, an Eagles fan.
Tattoo Helmet Guy
It's an inspiring story, isn't it?
A guy stares at his TV screen and watches his team play, maybe celebrates a victory with a few of his friends and basks in the glory of the New England Patriots. Then he gazes towards his heroes on the screen and says, "My head—I want my head to look like that."
Maybe I'm romanticizing this a bit too much.
After all, we're talking about a guy who literally looked at a helmet and thought, "Ha, I could make my head a helmet," then, instead of laughing the idea off, committed the rest of his life to it.
Why not just buy a real helmet? Or get a Patriots haircut? Or paint a helmet on? Or just wear a Patriots hat?
These, of course, are the types of existential questions that won't usually be considered by a guy who thinks it's a good idea to get a full-head tattoo.
For his sake, let's hope they don't change that logo any time soon.
A good way to assess the true devotion of a sports fan is to look at the kind of passion displayed by his or her littlest children.
Is the baby dressed in appropriate team garb? Does the baby already seem to be developing a sense of the nuances of the sport? If given 15 minutes, can the baby transform entirely into a spitting image of his favorite team's head coach?
The latter is the case with Baby Mangino, superfan of the Kansas Jayhawks football team and head coach Mark Mangino.
Baby Mangino's transformation captures it all—the Kansas track suit, the mustache, the double chin—and has turned the infant into a local hero.
Already a child prodigy, it will be exciting to see what Baby Mangino can accomplish in what will hopefully be a long and illustrious career as a Kansas football fan.
Baby Penguin Super Fan
Being a sports fan as a grown-up is easy.
As Baby Mangino could probably attest, being a sports fan as a baby is not such a walk in the park.
You can't talk. You can't read. You don't get updates on your smartphone. You can't stay up late.
None of these obstacles, however, is too much for Baby Penguin Super Fan, who started showing up at Pittsburgh Penguins games this year, became the focus of the greatest GIF of the century and showed up all of his adult counterparts in passion and intensity.
Check out the link and watch in awe as the kid's eyes light up with fiery passion and his fists clench as if he is crushing the very Earth in his tiny hands.
Somebody, please—teach this kid to talk and get him a job on ESPN.
Committed Cubs Guy
When the Cubs launched their "Committed" marketing campaign, it was unclear what exactly the team was committed to.
Committed to losing? Committed to steady annual regression? Committed to failure?
Perhaps, though, the purpose of the campaign was to prove to the world that it was possible to still like the Cubs amidst a multitude of 100-loss seasons.
Take this guy for example. He's got a tattoo of a Cubbie bear on the back of his scalp with a tattoo of Ron Santo's number and autograph.
Maybe Cubs fans just need to worry a lot less about the product on the field and a lot more about the pictures on their heads.
Stay committed, folks. Those scalp tattoos will absolutely, without a doubt pay off.
Little Birdman & Baby Birdman
Chris "Birdman" Anderson stands out in a crowd. In fact, his wild mohawk and the tattoos that cover nearly every inch of his upper body make him one of the most eccentric players in the NBA.
Turns out, this look works even better on kids.
Both Little Birdman and Baby Birdman have burst onto the scene in Miami this year, arriving at games with the Birdman haircut and the complete, detailed Birdman arm sleeves.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that those aren't real tattoos, but if these kids were real fans they'd get the ink done permanently.
Still, it's a pretty impressive level of commitment for a bench player.
Dedicated Red Sox Fans
I think we all like to believe that we'd go a long distance and endure great struggles for our favorite team, especially with a championship on the line.
But at what point is enough enough?
During last fall's World Series matchup between the Red Sox and Cardinals, Boston fans waited as many as 28 hours for a chance to get tickets to Game 6 at Fenway Park.
28 hours! That's enough time for three and a half full days of work, three full good nights of sleep or multiple viewings of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The moral of this story?
I think it lies somewhere between "Patience is a virtue" and "Sox fans have no life."
UC-Irvine Super Fan
Apparently, it actually is possible to fan too hard.
Such was the case with outrageously passionate UC-Irvine Anteaters worshiper Keith Franklin.
Franklin did it all—he had special chants for all the players, he knew their statistics from memory, he riled up the fans before an important play and he cheered with every ounce of his heart and soul.
He was, truly, the model Anteater.
And then one day, it was too much. Franklin was banned from UC-Irvine games for crossing the line too many times—including racing onto the field to celebrate plays, showing up at the stadium at 2 a.m. to welcome the team back from a road trip and general belligerent behavior.
His physical presence will be sorely missed. His legend will live forever.
Angry Heat Grandma
When we choose the teams to which we are going to commit our lives as young men and women, we all hope to end up with a team that we will really get a chance to grow old with.
In that regard, Angry Heat Grandma is truly living the dream.
This compilation shows that while age is not on her side, she has not lost a step in her career as a fan. Over the course of the game that she is watching, which appears to be Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, she expresses sentiments shared by Heat fans—and basketball fans—around the country:
"Anybody who sees this game knows it's fixed!" (Aren't they all?)
"Stephenson, fall on your face." (Seriously.)
"Bosh... OHHHHHH, BOSH! No, no NOOOOOO BOSH!" (Some things never change.)
You're an inspiration, Angry Heat Grandma. Keep fighting the good fight.
Steve Smith's Biggest Fan
IF WE CAN'T CHEER FOR STEVE SMITH, WE CHEER FOR NOBODY!
This kid shows ultimate dedication to his team by experiencing quite a breakdown over the departure of the aging Steve Smith.
In a brief but passionate fit of rage, our young hero Gavin must deal with the cold-blooded decision of the Panthers to release his favorite player and accept that fact that a future will, indeed, exist without Smith.
Gavin is driven to hopelessness and confusion, not sure where to turn or whom to root for. His life is turned upside down before our eyes.
Meanwhile, two seats to the left, his little sister seems totally fine just rooting for Cam Newton instead.
Come on, little girl. Show a little respect for this tragedy! Gavin, our hearts and minds are with you.
Perhaps some of these fans went a bit far. Perhaps the tattoos were excessive and the reactions a bit much. But at the end of the day, I say this:
Crazy fans, we salute you. You may make sports ridiculous, but you make sports fun.
You make sports different.
And you make sports matter.
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