SOC 101: Fan Studies (You Can Help!)

I have taken little jabs at supporters’ groups from time to time, but I want to clarify this a little. It’s not the groups that irk me, but a familiar mind-set that permeates them: the super-fan, the “true supporter” mentality, the celebration and even promotion of obsessing over the club’s fate as a badge of pride. And, to be clear, I don’t take issue with the super-fan as a person – until, that is, they call out other people for being outside the church. So, irks seems the wrong word. I think I’m just puzzled by the hyper-devoted (while being simultaneously fascinated by the way in which being inside the group intensifies the connection between fan and team; another post, another day).

The reason I’m puzzled bears noting: what we are all engaged in, after all, is watching other people do something, as opposed to participating directly. Invested as I get in that, and as much as I feel like the game consumes my life to what I’d dub an unbalanced extent, I see and read things everyday that tell me I’m half-assing it. And that’s just odd. True, I the losses hurt me less, the wins don’t make my week, and I’d rather just watch the game and yell what comes to me, as opposed to joining with others to create atmosphere and 12th-man hostility: maybe that’s enough for “half-assed” to stick.

That, however, is just the frame for the question, and this goes to anyone who counts themselves a super-fan, true supporter, what have you: what is your passion? That’s not some Oprah-esque question about what do you love in life, but, literally, what is that passion? What creates and drives your behavior as a fan of the game and what role, and to what extent, does the community aspect of supporters group fuel it? How do you explain your fandom, from its intensity to the yen for a stadium full of people chanting the same song? Why do you value the traditional chanting and bouncing to the extent that you’re aggravated at people who sit on their hands? Why is building atmosphere nearly as important to you as the game itself, if not more important?

As noted in a separate post, I’ll be gone for a couple days, but would love to see a shitload of answers filling the comments field when I get back. Consider this an open invitation to tell the story of your fandom, specifically, what turns your crank and how it…well, gets you off.  Juice it up with anecdotes about divorces, break-ups, lost jobs, and horrible hygiene, so much the better – and, all right, meeting your future wife on a road trip counts as well. Only one answer is out of bounds: “If you don’t understand, I can’t explain it to you.” That’s a cop-out, not an answer.

By all means, float this on other sites; the more the merrier. I’m asking because I’m genuinely curious. I’m really puzzled by not only how I attach to the game, but by the way others do so more passionately. You’ve heard my bit and won’t hear any more; it’s your turn now.

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EPL Daily 2.29: The oft-forgotten impact of McBride

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The UK’s Daily Mail actually put out something today not rooted in rumor. A tribute – if you can call it that – to Brian McBride. As Fulham continues to slide, many wonder if it would have been any different had McBride been there the whole time. He’s always been their guy to right the ship and with tomorrow’s fixture vs. Manchester United looming, there’s really only one guy the Fulham faithful can look to for any sense of survival. It’s been that way for a while now and he’s put in a lot of work to become that go-to guy at the club level – for Everton, Preston North End, Columbus, Milwaukee Rampage of the old USISL, VfL Wolfsburg.

McBride has scored twice in the past 3 games against United, but Fulham has only produced 2 goals in the last 5 league games. The truth is, NO ONE on the team has the same dedication, bravery, and aggression that McBride exhibits. This is a guy who holds an impressive resume of injuries – shattered cheekbones, broken eye socket, metal plates, blood clots, and most recently the dislocated kneecap that put him out for a solid 6 months. These aren’t injuries sustained due to lack of fitness, etc. – they’re what Ray Hudson would call ‘gladiator’ injuries. We all remember the Daniele De Rossi challenge in the 2006 World Cup…McBride had this to say after that,

I’m fortunate in that I don’t have a lot of feeling in my face. My nerves are all dead from the surgery. You get hit and you get back up.

Without him, Fulham’s two other proclaimed target men have done nothing for the team – Diomansy Kamara and Shefki Kuqi – while the guy meant to finish all of the challenges that these target men win, has hit for nothing [David Healy]. Now with Dempsey, Johnson, and McBride all healthy and getting consistent playing time – it’s up to the American trio to pull a Wigan and find their way out of the depths.

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I’ll keep this from breaching man-crush territory and let you decide…

What was Brian McBride’s career moment?  I’d say this could be up there…

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One-Liner guide to La Liga- Jornada 26

Welcome back to this week’s One-Liner guide to La Liga–Jornada 26.  Unfortunately, that’s going to be it for the guide this week since I currently have the plague thanks to my YMCA kids and ‘swimmers ear’ (God I feel like such a kid saying that).

I’ll be back soon, until then, hop on over to Tim Stannard’s preview at La Liga Loca.