Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Sports Fandom

DOB brought up the question this morning as to why people develop such rabid loyalty to one team or another. Often the loyalty is geographic, of course, but even that doesn't really explain why--and of course many people are fans of teams from far away, or maintain their childhood fandom even while living in exile. The loyalty is not to the people involved, because players get traded and coaches leave, yet the fans remain. Nor is it tied to winning; indeed, commiserating in team losses is part of the point. It's certainly not considered part of fandom to pick whoever is winning as "your team." No, the idea is to have a team (for whatever random reason) and stick to it, through thick and thin.

Perhaps it ties into some deep human need to be loyal to something regardless of the outcome. In most areas of life, the advice is now to insist on your own happiness whenever things begin to go awry. Sticking with something or someone regardless of how they perform is considered ill-advised with one's family, and uncouth with one's political party or country. What's left but one's favorite sports team?

Yet it's somehow deeply satisfying to stay true to something for no reason than that it is yours, even if it disappoints you time and time again. And if it ever does reward you with success--well, it's all that much sweeter.

Of course, with sports, you have all the fun of the payoff, while the suffering really doesn't hit you in real life. Go join the fight on Amy's blog if you want to debate whether this is a worthwhile place to devote your energies.

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