Guest Post: Loving Your Team — The Four Pillars of Fandom

As a college sophomore I witnessed one of the most ridiculous football games you will ever see. In 2005, The University of Oregon beat then 18th ranked Oklahoma in a game that left both sets of fans complaining about the refs after an historic comeback by my Ducks. Down 13 points, our quarterback threw his second pick of the quarter. Thousands headed to the exits. After Oregon made its comeback, punctuated by a wacky onside kick and field goal block, those that remained mobbed the field and the players. Those who left missed a monumental moment, and a turning point in the program – plus they had to live a lie that they were there.

Those fans who deserted the team violated one of my long-held Pillars of Sports Fandom. I have developed these after years of following mostly terrible teams in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve sat through epic collapses and winless seasons, and through it all, I have remained loyal. And it made those rare moments of joy all the better. Here is my secret recipe for being the best sports fan you can be. If I could describe these pillars in one sentence it would be, “be passionate, but don’t be an asshole.”

KNOW YOUR TEAM

I’m not talking about just knowing whether the guys in the white uniforms or the black ones are on your team. True fans possess intimate knowledge of pivotal games and important traditions in their team’s history.  At the University of Oregon, prior to each game, a highlight package of some of the team’s most important moments fires up the crowd (Kenny Wheaton’s gonna score!).  At the University of Michigan, the players run out and slap a banner that reads “Go Blue”.  These pre-game rituals add to the team’s, and stadium’s, overall mystique.  The duty of enhancing these traditions falls squarely on the fans.

RESPECT THE VISITORS

Yeah, I know, they are wearing the wrong color, and are probably the worst people ever – you know, the kind with three popped-collar polo shirts, talking on their cell phone during the game – but we are here to watch the teams duke it out, not a bunch of fans three or four beers deep before the game even starts.

DON’T BOO THE BOYS

This one fits the “don’t be an asshole,” part of the speech. Sure, that promised free agent might be stinking it up, looking like he’d rather be at the buffet line than on the court, but why is that the rest of the team’s fault? Show the adequate respect to the guys putting their bodies on the line to entertain you. I hear what you are saying: these guys make millions, I can boo whoever I want. You sure can, but what’s the point of pinning your emotions on these guys if you are just going to turn on them when the chips are down?

NEVER LEAVE EARLY

And of course the most important one: Never leave early. You can do all of the above, but if you are that guy who bolts with three minutes left and your boys are down a few points or runs, your fan card will be confiscated at the gate. Just stay a few extra minutes. The traffic is going to horrible either way. Who knows, you might get to be a part of history.

 Nat is way too big of a sports fan, who can’t wait for football to start. Even if it means no more sun.

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38 comments

  1. Hahaha, as soon as I saw this (the picture of Autzen) on Freshly Pressed, I knew I had to like it. Go Ducks.

    1. Ducks! Ducks! Ducks! Super stoked for the opening game. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. LOL! I love this post! When i was in college I think I broke every one of these rules at football games! haha!! great post

  3. I am not really a sports person, but a lot of this resonated with me anyway. I live in Texas and high school football is huge. Our school had the worst team on planet earth, but I was the colorguard captain for the marching band, and our job was to cheer on our boys no matter what. And we did, with zest! Sure enough, that loyalty did pay off, and we did see a few moments of high school football history….at least for RHS. 😉

    1. The fun of team isn’t all in the wins — it says a lot about a person when they can cheer their team on no matter what! Also, I just finished watching all of Friday Night Lights, and it makes me a little jealous that you got to celebrate high school football in Texas. 🙂

      1. Friday night lights is a fantastic movie and whilst I come from New Zealand I can relate to a certain extent with our high-school rugby teams. Fantastic post!

  4. My knowledge of American football is quite small, but what you have said applies to all sports.
    If you are a true fan, then the losses and the bad seasons are just as important as the good. I am a soccer fan, and Manchester City in England are my team. I have followed them through 41 mostly bad years, including being relegated to the third tier of English soccer in 1998/99.
    Last season, we won the English Premier League. We are the champions! My reward for loyalty? Maybe. But I have just as fond memories of that 1998/99 season when we were in the absolute doldrums.

    1. Being a fan of the Oregon Ducks has been the same — terrible teams for so long, but being loyal has paid off! Great work with all your years of loyalty!

  5. frontrangescribbles · · Reply

    Great for fans of teams at every level, pee wee to pro teams.

  6. Nice article. If only people followed these guidelines!

    1. Right? We love our Ducks around here and it can be hard to follow all the rules, but a true fan knows that it’s not about how the other team does, it’s about our team doing their best. That’s why Nat wrote this article!

  7. You are so right. I’m a Cubs fan—rules like these are all we have to hold it together anymore! Especially the no booing, which can be so, so difficult. Great post!

    1. Oh man, I bet it is hard to stick to these pillars as a Cubs fan! Good for you for standing by your team!

  8. This post reminds me to the Kop Pledge
    Always support the team, no matter how bad they are playing.
    If the team is doing badly, cheer even louder as they need your support more.
    If a player is struggling, sing his name louder and more often as he needs it.
    If the opposition are the better side and perform well, appreciate it and give them the credit they are due
    (http://www.lfchistory.net/Articles/Article/40)

    1. Perfect! That’s a pledge we should all be taking

  9. JDoubleU · · Reply

    This is a great post for NY fans (excluding the pinstripe gallery). Being a Knicks/Mets/Giants fan is something I wear w/ pride. But the guys sure don’t make it easy. Last year was especially sweet having the J. Lin thing happen and then the Giants beat Brady & co. for the 2nd time this decade. The “no booing” rule is extremely tough when it comes to the Mets. But I’ll forever be loyal to my teams.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed too! I don’t often see really dope sports posts make it

    1. That’s absolutely what’s great about staying loyal to your team–sometimes a Jeremy Lin comes along and sweeps you up into victory. Then you get to say you were loyal all along, not just during the winning season. We’re looking forward to having Nat write more sports articles for us!

  10. paulvinten · · Reply

    Brilliant article. Some football fans in the UK (proper football mind, not rugby with dodgy rules 😉 ) could do a lot worse than to follow these principles.

    If you’re into stories of fans who will always love their team you should read up on Portsmouth FC. Two relegations, countless corrupt owners and now facing the real threat of extinction. Our last home game – nearly 18000 tickets sold (stadium only holds 19000).

    Cracking blog

    1. Oh man, I just read up on Portsmouth, and that is the worst! For a team with such a strong fan base to go under because of financial problems is pretty crushing. From what I understand, even if they’re able to move forward, they won’t have any top tier players–am I right about that? I guess that would be another test of the loyal fans vs fair-weather ones.

  11. As a life-long fan and passionate fan of the Cleveland Browns and more recently 1.FC Nuernberg (the perennially bad and most often relegated team in the German Bundesliga) I feel your pain and agree with your sentiments. In my mind, being a passionate and dedicated supporter of a bad team will make it all that much sweeter when that day inevitably comes in which your team lifts that trophy. This is something that the Steelers/Yakees/Bayern Munich fans of the world just can’t seem to grasp because it is expected.

  12. Great post as a professional athlete some of the things you talked about see regular

  13. Wise words, but as an Orioles fan, I’m afraid it breaks down at 3. whenever someone is dumb enough to wear a Yankees or a Sox cap inside the Yards. Or anywhere in Baltimore County, or anywhere between the Mason-Dixon line and DC, if you know what I’m sayin’.

  14. WAR EAGLE! from over here in Auburn… 🙂

    congrats on being FP’d even if it is on the Ducks (their uni’s look really tame this year too, what’s the deal lol)

  15. vincedicaro · · Reply

    Nice article! Allow me to copy and paste the “don’t boo the boys” part =)

  16. I’ve sat through winless seasons too and totally agree – no booing! I know those guys are trying and probably are already more down than me so there is no help in kick a dog when its down.

    I love to put on the team colors and just have fun cheering them’ on!

    Please stop by and visit our site: http://www.pierotucci.com/clothing/leather_jackets/

  17. Kathleen Veldhuisen · · Reply

    Excellent advice, especially about the booing. I wish that all Autzen Stadium fans would applaud politely when the opposing team runs out of the tunnel. (After kickoff, of course, it’s okay to boo, etc.) One more piece of advice about game etiquette. When you’re standing “for the team,” remember that the person behind you may not be physically able to stand for four hours, and he or she paid to see the game, too.

    1. As a duck I wish all Autzen Stadium fans could show a little bit better behavior to the opposing team too. But I’ve also been pelted with garbage in Husky stadium, so I know from experience that there are worse things then booing!

  18. aschmid3 · · Reply

    “Fans” who leave early just to beat the traffic are a huge pet peeve of mine. If you’re that worried about traffic, why don’t you just stay home and watch it on TV?

    I’ve attended close to 75 NASCAR races, and the people who leave those early are the ones that really confuse me. Unlike a two-team game where one team is up by an insurmountable number of points, a NASCAR race has the chance to completely change in a matter of seconds, right up until the very last moment. I’ve seen so many races won and lost in the last few laps; why does anyone take the risk of missing that just so they can be the first one home?

    1. It’s a good point! Is not having to wait in traffic getting out of the parking lot really worth missing those critical last minutes?

    2. I have only been to a couple of NASCAR races with my dad, and some of the local races as a kid, but they have rarely ended in anything but total excitement. I really don’t understand the people who leave early — they do it even when a game or race is close! I watched people leave during the 2011 Playoffs when the Blazers were making an insane comeback against the Mavericks. People spend SO MUCH on tickets and then show up late and leave early.

  19. Let me guess, the three guys with their collars up and on cell phones – USC or Stanford fans?

    I have also been a longtime fan of a losing team (the Utah Jazz) and also of the Utah Utes – who aren’t a losing team so much anymore.

    Thanks for writing!

  20. Last spring my hubby and I went to a home Detroit Tigers game. It was HOT but we stayed. Soon, pop-up T-storms came through, drenching everyone in a quick but heavy rain. We found cover. It was the 8th or 9th inning and the Tigers were down. We decided to walk to our car and hit the road. (Didn’t really think we’d miss too much traffic because droves were leaving)

    Sure enough, as we listened in our car (driving through some nasty weather, I might add) play did resume and the Tigers pulled the Greatest Come Back Ever. And won the game.
    My husband just turned and looked at me. What could we say? We both agreed to leave. Sorta.

    Hubby endured some ribbing at the local watering hole when they learned of our transgression.
    Never again, I say! Never again.

    Great, concise review of sports etiquette. Congrats on FPd! Enjoy the ride 🙂

    1. Oh, what a bummer! It’s always a little crushing to find out you missed a little bit of history–but you live and you learn, right? You’re never leaving a game early now!

  21. First thing — this is a great shot.

    I like your post. I do many crazy things when it comes to support my fav team.. oh.. i simply love it…

    1. Isn’t it an amazing photo? It really captures the spirit of Autzen Stadium–or any packed stadium full of jazzed fans!

  22. great post, although I live miles away from my favourite team, I shall abide by these pillars with my local teams

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