Daily Prompt: Fandom
Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.
I am a fan of sports.
True fandom doesn’t come from buying a jersey or hat because you like the team colors or from jumping on a bandwagon because an organization is suddenly successful.
True fandom is like religion. It’s part of a true fan’s culture, just as sure as a certain food dish or type of clothing is a part of that same culture.
I’m from St. Louis. I am Catholic because I was raised Catholic. I’m a Cardinal baseball fan for the same reason. My dad roots for the Cardinals because his dad rooted for the Cardinals. Everybody has rooted for the Cardinals in my family since getting off the boat and settling in The Hill Neighborhood many years ago.
My one living grandma still roots for the Cardinals. It’s the only reason she has cable television.
My kids will root for the Cardinals. It’s not an option to do otherwise until you leave the house.
I’ve heard my grandmother say fuck and shit and goddammit more times than I can remember while watching her beloved Cardinals. That’s part of the thing with fandom, you give a part of your heart to a team.
The Cardinals represent my hometown. When they are successful, the City basks in that success and revels in the recognition that comes with national television exposure. When the Cardinals are in the playoffs, everyone stops being a South Sider or North Sider or gay or straight or a Democrat or Republican or a man or woman. For just a little while, we’re all Cardinal fans and we’re all oblivious to our differences.
We all suffer together with every blown call or missed opportunity, but rejoice as one with each timely hit or defensive gem turned out by our team.
A team builds a true fan base over generations. Fandom is passed down from father to son and daughter and from son and daughter to grandsons and grand daughters. We love the Cardinals because we love our City. We’re proud of where we come from.
I lived in Dallas very briefly and tried to like their teams, but it was a lost cause. Many people who lived in Dallas when I was there were from other cities. Their loyalties were with their home grown teams still, including mine for my Cardinals. While a trip to Arlington was fun, the game itself lacked the passion that you’ll find in a city where a team has been supported by generations of families.
From the Gas House Gang to Stan the Man to Ozzie Smith and Yadier Molina today, great players are appreciated in St. Louis and even revered. We adopt these men as a part of our families.
The same is true in many great cities. While their team sucks, the Chicago Cubs have the same tradition and love from their fans as the Cardinals. While I hate both teams, watch a Red Sox or Yankees playoff game and you can see the fans living and dying with each pitch of the game.
The ups and downs are brutal, but we love it. If the team manages to win the championship, the City rejoices. There is nothing else that brings St. Louis together collectively as a Cardinal World Series victory. We win it together. We say WE did it, not the Cardinals did it.
Fandom is more than watching a team or having a favorite team. It’s changing the channel because you can’t bear the pain of watching the other team’s closer record the final out in a playoff series that you’re about to lose. It’s wearing red and dressing your kids in red and meeting your grandma and friends all in their red at the stadium to watch a game.
Fandom is a few thousand people taking off from work and their bosses letting them to watch a parade.
Fandom is crying like a baby when the team’s greatest broadcaster ever passed away because you listened to him with your dad as a kid while riding in the back of the car on Sunday afternoons. It’s one more link to the past gone forever.
Yep, fandom to me is something more than just liking a team. It’s loving a team. It’s suffering when the team stinks and being on cloud nine when they’re winning. You can’t fake true fandom.
Real fandom is passed down from generation to generation. It’s not a choice. It’s in your blood. It’s part of who we are.