In DDDT’s continuing efforts to help its readers navigate the pitfalls of their everyday lives, we bring you this special report on understanding the personalities of America’s sports fans. We cannot be held responsible if any of the below is in error, but we have used our best efforts to figure these people out. We hope it will be helpful to you.
The best way to identify a soccer fan is to notice when friends that have never been to England start using words only people from England use. Soccer fans enjoy having their own lexicon, and really enjoy subtly pushing it on everyone else. They’re honestly not smug about it. Most soccer fans are actually pretty good-natured and sweet in a pitiable sort of way, sort of like a golden retriever puppy whose mother has just died. But they still have their pride, which is expressed by their persistent use of terms that make them sound like they grew up in colonial India. When discussing the field of play, they’ll throw in the word ‘pitch’ and refer to their team as a ‘side.’ When you talk of the speed of a ball, they’ll refer to its ‘pace,’ and at the end of the game they’ll say it was a great ‘match.’ This is not done aggressively, but with the tone of voice a quiet, overlooked child might use to say “I am working on forming my own identity!” It’s sweet to watch a soccer fan work his way toward confident self-actualization. He passionately testifies of the beauty of his chosen sport, which is usually nothing more than a means of convincing himself he has reasons for following his sport other than the fact that he is secretly a communist.
To be a soccer fan in America is to hold hopes that will never be fulfilled, and to pretend to have more in common with dirt-poor Nicaraguans and crazed Liverpudlians than with one’s own countrymen. Both because of the global community that supports the sport, and because of its somewhat ridiculous downsides (chief among which is the pretense that a tie is an acceptable outcome for a competitive sporting event that grown people have paid good shillings to watch) American soccer fans are, and probably always will be, subjects of great suspicion. And rightfully so.
Look, Bobby, the U.S. have notched a sporting good try, raise the American Jack!
Self-serving hyperbole: “The Beautiful Game.” In reality: “Tie game.”
Weaknesses: The American soccer fan may be effectively neutralized by simply suggesting that Americans would dominate the game if they cared about it at all; Alternatively, argue that the game would be better if played with two balls simultaneously, and without goalies.
Pro Football Fan
Pro football fans are actually pretty tolerable. In fact, it’s easy to like them, because when you meet one, you instantly know that you have met an inferior person. Pro football fans spend between four to ten hours every Sunday sitting watching their sport, which also requires them to consume the same amount of calories as the players themselves. They also spend up to twenty hours each week trading pro football players on their own teams, because almost all pro football fans believe they are mangers of professional football teams. In short, there is really nothing to dislike about professional football fans. We should do all we can to help them, because they will likely all die very soon.
I expect to live as long as my fellow Americans are willing to remove dangerous objects from my path!
Self-serving hyperbole: “The Super Bowl.” In reality: “The Gigantic Celebration of the Breathtaking Decline of a Once Great Nation.”
Weaknesses: Myriad. Most notable: cholesterol, rich fantasy life, inebriation, choking.
Baseball fans are by far the most insufferable fans of any fans in the world. While it’s annoying to call your field a ‘pitch,’ it is even more annoying to treat your field like a temple. Baseball fans believe that the history of their sport is the same as the history of America, and that “going to Fenway,” especially when there is actually nothing going at Fenway, is a thing that is neat to do, and that everyone shares this belief. Other fans talk themselves into thinking their sports are the best, but only baseball fans believe that all other moral people naturally agree with them. To be a baseball fan, one must believe that the throwing and swatting of a ball are transcendent activities invoking the best elements of poetry, democracy, and racial justice. Note that defenders of baseball never argue on the merits of the game, but only offer question-begging assurances about the smell of the grass and the thrill of the crackling bat. Thus, one assumes that love of baseball is in the aesthetics, until one sees that the crisp, pristine field is occupied entirely by chubby, grizzled men whose main skill appears to be the spitting of tobacco mucous and committing perjury before Congress. In short, no sport attracts a fan more unhinged from reality, which is understandable, because all baseball fans love the sport only inasmuch as it remains the sole vehicle through which they ever felt love from their fathers. Seriously, baseball fans have issues.
I know my daddy loves me by how hard he throws the ball at me when we have a catch
Self-serving hyperbole: “America’s Pastime.” In reality: “America’s Grandpa’s Pastime.”
Weaknesses: Understand that there is never anything to be gained by arguing with a baseball fan, who will hear all of your arguments as simply variations on “I really, really can’t stand America.” If you must, the best way to get a baseball fan off balance is to ask, whenever he mentions Maris, Mantle, Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Williams, or any other ancient ‘hero,’ “yeah, that guy was so good. What drugs did he take again?”
College Football Fan
This report focuses on fans of sports. Unfortunately, fans of College Football are not fans of sports, but rather spend three months of the year cheering for their teams and the remaining nine months arguing about politics and bureaucracy and civil rights. The fact that these arguments concern the politics and bureaucracy and civil rights of their favorite profit-making institutions does not mean that these people are actually rooting for a sport. To be a “fan” of college football, one must know as much about television revenues, federal antitrust law, and the original intent of the founders (both of the USA and the BCS) as about spread offenses and blitz packages. This is plainly illustrated by the fact that more people are following the current intrigues regarding conference realignment (it’s complicated– think Rubik’s Cube+the Civil War+Enron) than will ever go to actual football games when November rolls around. Being a fan of modern college football is more like being a fan of the General Electric Family of Companies than following an actual sport.
Cyclists are like normal people, but without the personalities. Whereas other sports fans get together and tell stories about things that happened in last night’s game or in their pickup contest at the gym, cyclists get together and talk twice as long about nothing at all. Cyclists live dramatic lives full of peddling, steering, fretting about wild animals, and generally disliking people who drive cars. Cyclists like to regale their audiences about how they rode up and then they rode down and then they turned and then there was another cyclist and then they were tired. What is amazing is that a cyclist’s stamina in telling such stories is generally as great as his stamina in taking boring bike rides. And NEVER get them started on “Lance.” You will regret it. The cyclist makes up for his total lack of personality by wearing by far the most ridiculous getup in all of sports. However, the cyclist gives absolutely no indication that he knows how ridiculous he looks, proving in the end that he actually doesn’t have any personality after all. The cyclist also enjoys watching “races” on TV, where people ride bikes for days at a time. Again, this is not done ironically.
Of course, this would only look more ridiculous if bikers let the hair on their legs grow
Self-serving hyperbole: “. . . the sport of cycling.” In reality: ” . . .”
Weaknesses: The cyclist/cycling fan has no known weakness. He is irrepressible and cannot be stopped, except by an SUV.
Professional Basketball Fan
Fans of NBA basketball are not easy to find. Although it is one of America’s most mainstream sports, it has almost no fans. Although some critics believe this is because of the unique structure of the sport, in which every game’s outcome is pre-determined by one man sitting in a large, darkened office in New York City, that same setup has not had any appreciable negative effects on its sister sport, Pro Wrestling. The NBA has attempted to re-ignite its fan base by temporarily deciding not to enforce any of the rules of basketball (but only during the games). This innovation has led to increased scoring, a new age of superstars, and calls for all such superstars to enjoy absolute immunity from federal and natural law throughout the universe. And yet, one still struggles to find a fan of the sport outside the podcast guests of Bill Simmons. NBA fans are generally good-natured, except that they are often susceptible to conspiracy theories and fatalism, mostly because they inhabit a morally bankrupt bizarro universe where being the most evil team in the world regularly results in huge success.
Self-serving hyperbole: “Referees.” In reality: “The Illuminati”
Weaknesses: Like America itself, the sport is built on an illusion of fairness and parity while roughly four teams have all the talent and money, and everyone else is simply placated by the fantasy that that talent and money might someday trickle down. As in America, it never will. The NBA fan knows this fact, and may be silenced quite easily when it is wielded correctly.
There are people who are “fans” of golf. They watch it on TV. They live otherwise normal lives and seem to love their families. Almost nothing is known about these people. More study is warranted.
Self-serving hyperbole: “A tradition like no other.” In reality: “Seriously, what is going on here? You act like you like this, but you can’t actually like this. Honestly, what is going on? Just tell me, I swear I won’t tell anyone else.”
Weaknesses: They cheer for golf. What else do you need to know?