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.