Monday, January 16, 2017

A case for being a fair-weather fan

The headline grabbed my eye. "Fair-Weather Fandom."

This headlined piece in the New York Time Sunday Magazine from yesterday, authored by Jeremy Gordon, started with the line "I'm a bandwagon sports fan, the lowest of the low" and subsequently sucked me in as I was intrigued by Gordon's admission of this personality disorder.

I've often discussed, and sometimes debated, with friends the tenets for being a true sports fan. The unwavering loyalty, attending games in good times and bad, standing up for your team - all of the things that my code of sports loyalty holds so dear. Not Gordon. He writes, "In fallow years, I'm happy to drift away. Sports should be fun, and bad sports - the clanged jumpers, the cheap interceptions - are like a C-Span marathon: lethargic and unending, the sparse upticks in action fooling you into sticking around for a little longer."

On this day after, I must admit that Gordon's words are striking a chord with me as I'm having trouble figuring out why I should "stick around for a little longer" with the Kansas City Chiefs. If you don't know, my Chiefs lost yet another NFL playoff game - this time at home last night to the Pittsburgh Steelers by the score of 18-16.

Am I a passionate Chiefs fan? My fandom certainly is not on the same level as my fan index for Kansas Jayhawk sports but I have long been one who watched every Chiefs game, start-to-finish, attended on occasion, and defended the sometimes average play of a guy like Alex Smith. So, here I sit again on the day after, reading the varying opinions about whether Erik Fisher's hold on James Harrison should have been called or whether Andy Reid under-utilized Tyreek Hill. And, once again, I'm also pondering whether I'm over-using my sports emotional capital by caring so much about a team like the Chiefs.

Gordon writes, "There is freedom in this bandwagoning...It allows you to compartmentalize, to lend sports the importance you feel they should have in our world, without being swept up too deeply in the blaming inanities of sports talk. The cultural insistence on being a 'real fan' begins to seem deeply silly - it isn't as though St. Peter judges your bona fides at the pearly gates."

When I read Gordon's words yesterday afternoon, I scoffed. Clearly this guy just doesn't get it, I thought. At 10:30 p.m. last night, I wasn't so sure - maybe he actually did have this figured out and I was the one who was out of touch. Maybe it is time for me to pull the plug on my emotional investment in the Chiefs.

By the way, training camp starts on July 27. I'll see you then.

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