Are you a true fan?
Around the NFL people hear this quite often. What exactly does being a true fan mean? Does it mean knowing the teams history and background? Is it about trusting in ownership? Is it about dressing yourself from head to toe and painting your face in team colors? Or by how many games you attend and hard you scream?
So let me ask again - are you a 'true' fan? How so?
Recently the 'act' of being a 'true' fan was defended in a comment as one who sticks by a team through highs and lows, wins and losses, and good and bad decisions. I certainly have no arguments with that. To be a true fan you need to be just as passionate when your team is losing as to if your team is winning. You need to name more then just the popular players on a team and you need to know the difference between a running back and a corner back.
However this 'true fan' idea is brought about every time people find something they disagree with.
"What, your a T.O fan? You CANT be a true fan."
"What, you support the Pittsburgh Steelers? You have the referees in your back pocket all season."
"You don't go to stadium games? You can't be a true fan, no."
It is as if being a ‘true fan’ means that you have to be a specific type of person - the ones who scream their hearts out at every game they can go and watch, cussing with opposing fans, the ones who are accepted by other fans as ‘true’ fans, and most likely ones who live in the same city.
While I agree with all of these points I’ve made so far in my writing, I've come to this conclusion.
Wearing a jersey and rooting for a team in a bar while texting on your phone is not considered being a true fan.
A true fan is one who supports the team through thick and thin, good calls and bad calls, good plays and terrible plays. One who supports a player no matter what he does. We schedule our days around a game and make no plans for the day of a football game. We bleed team colors and scream with joy when we win. We cry or express anger when we lose. We make excuses as to why a certain call was made, and sometimes we leave cussing a certain player.
True fans are passionate. They understand at the end of the day that football is just a game, and players are just people who overcome struggles and triumphs just like the rest of us(well less the millions).
Our hearts are here, be it a .500 season or perfect season.
The next question is - ‘new’ fans who starting watching a team after being exposed to them winning titles (Steelers fans, after their numerous football winning seasons, Dallas fans after a dynasty. Or recently Patriots fans thanks to Tom Brady’s perfect season) when will they be classified as ‘true’ fans? Is their a period of initiation, where you have to show that you suffer and yet still support the team?
Or is it that because you support a huge team that’s winning trophies, you can’t be a true fan, because being a true fan involves suffering?
I think it's the last bit. At the end of the day it's about suffering, and still getting geared up to watch the game the following week. Knowing it'll probably be a loss but not being the least bit hopeful that this week, you just might win.