Sports for Dummies: Different levels of sports fandom, explained

Ashley Potts

Being a sports fan is not as simple as it sounds. This is not one of those cases where “there are two kinds of people.” There are not just people who love sports and people who hate sports: it’s a spectrum. Believe it or not, even if you consider yourself the biggest sports dummy out there, you probably fall somewhere on the fandom spectrum.

So, on a scale from novice to die-hard fanatic, where are you?

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Certified Sports Dummy

I realize a great many people do not like sports, but I would still argue you cannot escape fandom completely. Even if you have never played a sport in your life, you do not live in a vacuum in which sports cease to exist.

Maybe you do not tune in to games, you do not know the name of the team who won the last Super Bowl and you really do not care to talk about sports even casually. But I would bet you still know the teams who play for your state or school or hometown, you probably know who Michael Jordan and LeBron James are, you probably saw that Nike ad with Colin Kaepernick and have an idea what that is about. You may have even used a sports meme without realizing that vaguely equates you to enjoying sports.

Like it or not, sports are a part of our culture and you probably have a little bit of an opinion on something related to sports. While this does not necessarily make you a fan of anything specific, it does include you in the world of fandoms.

Bandwagoner

Joining a popular group is a natural step up into fandom for most sports dummies. Maybe that team you only vaguely know things about is suddenly doing pretty well. Your crush or significant other or roommate mentions some guy named Alexander Ovechkin and then you notice that his team just won the Stanley Cup, and it starts there.

Maybe you go buy a t-shirt with his name on it or the one with the championship logo printed across the front. Maybe next time someone asks you about a game you have a thing to say, then maybe you have a few things to say. Eventually, you will pay attention to a game on the TV at a restaurant, even watch a couple of games on purpose. But only if your favorite guy is playing and only if that team is doing pretty well.

As annoying as bandwagon fans can be to those who have been loyal from the beginning, it’s a starting place to like sports if you were not sure about them before.

Casual Fan

This is likely where most people fall.

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The casual fan will head to a sports’ bar because they know the game is on tonight. They wear the team’s t-shirt to class on game days and have a few more hanging in their closet. They will gladly accept a free ticket if a friend offers, or maybe purchase their own to a game or two per season.

Casual fans can name a few players on the roster, probably all the starters, and know when the right moment to cheer is. They follow the team on social media and maybe ‘like’ a post every once in a while. These are the fans who like sports and are not afraid to strike up a conversation about them, but only when it’s convenient. 

Die-Hard Fanatic

These are the people who truly love sports. Whether they played sports their whole life or just hopped on the bandwagon and let it take them where it may, these are the people who live and breathe for their team.

Fanatics have a t-shirt or jersey for every day of the week, hats for all seasons, bobbleheads, signed memorabilia, bumper stickers, lanyards and anything else imaginable that may be sold in the team store.

Fanatics know every players’ stats, their nicknames, their hometowns and their girlfriend’s sister’s cousin’s middle name. They have Facebook pages dedicated to talking about their team and buy season tickets every year. They come to every game and it just never gets old.

Diehards are a subculture that sports dummies fail to understand, but they have their fun and do not care who is watching.

Regardless of where you fall on the fandom spectrum, sports can be for everyone. You do not have to go crazy, but you can still use that LeBron James meme and have your fun.

Ashley Potts can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ashleypotts09.