It’s been brought up quite a few times around my group of friends the meaning of what a true fan is. Are they those that have a great deal of knowledge of their team, are they those that support and display their team often, or are they just the fans that root for the teams they have been stuck with due to association. To me there are two things that go into being a fan, 50% love and passion for your team and 50% of the attention you get with your association with your team. There are those that support teams based on the attention the team gets and the attention they get from associating with that team; they fit only one side of the equation. Then there are those that love and support their team but don’t associate with them; they also only fit one side of the equation. You have to have both to be known as a fan but only one to be a true fan and that would be the latter but what is the fun of not being associated with your team. So much of the fun of being a fan is displaying your love for your team. Hanging up banners, wearing your teams t-shirts and bragging about them when they win but the fun part isn’t everything. Being a true fan is something more and I feel like there are three true tests for who is a true fan and who is not.
The first is the attention factor. Let me ask all those Kansas fans where their KU football shirts and status went after they started to suck (not all KU fans are like this but you get my point). So many people root for their team because of the attention it brings them but if that is the only reason why then you might as well change teams every year (and usually they do). Attention is a perk not the reason you root for a team. You must know who and what makes your team run and you must have the talk to back it up. I was frankly embarrassed when the Cardinals won the World Series because I never cared about them as much as I should of. Sitting at a local bar watching them win was great and all but I felt like I was living a lie. Yea I am from STL and yes I like the cardinals but that’s not enough to garner that attention of winning. You must watch the games and know your stuff to earn the semi spotlight. I know fans really don’t have much weight in a team’s success but a team needs them to succeed. They need those true die hards who are there from the beginning and who are definitely there at the end. A t-shirt and a hat won’t get you this, its time. Time spent rooting and cheering. Those are the ones who deserve a pat on the back and a beer when your team’s ultimate goal is achieved.
The second is the ups and downs. People have such a short attention span and when their so-called “team” is down, they are quick to put them to the wayside. How many times have you heard phrases like “Yea I like ______ but they suck this year so I’m rooting for _______”. And so this is the second true test of a fan, loyalty during adversity. If you root for a team that is always good then you don’t have this problem (and this is the reason you started rooting for them in the first place, right?) but for most teams your gonna have your ups and downs. Still watching during a 2 – 10 season is tough but if you’re a true fan than you must. Your gonna get trouble from your friends but it is the hardships you must endure. Being an Iowa State Cyclone fan is tough and those tough times seem not only boring but also discouraging. But I’ve lasted it and that makes the ups so much better. Even look at those Cardinals fans that never lost hope during their wild card run (unfortunately I’m not one of them) and they aren’t the loudest of the bunch but the happiest. They sit in the back of the bar in disbelief and go home with a feeling that attention could never bring. It is easy to be a Duke basketball fan but its not being a Duke football fan. The love of the logo and traditions come first and the wins come second and true fans not only respect that but also relish it.
The third is the why. Why do you root for your supposed team. There are those who root for geographical reasons, those who root because of association, and those who have a special connection to a team. Those three reasons are the only respectable reasons of a true fan. The fans that aren’t true are those that cherry pick their teams. “Oh you’re a Green Bay fan now, well who isn’t”. You can root for a team cause your best fantasy player is on it or because you picked them for some random reason when you were a kid and I can respect that but that doesn’t make you a true fan, just a fan. The only reason for liking a team that I disdain is a reason nobody would admit “I like them cause they win”. I mean come on, if you really love sports why would you like a team that means nothing to you except for the win column. How can you live with your self-bragging for a team you really don’t care about? Just like I said earlier, it takes time to be a true fan. You have to put more time into them instead of just tweeting and watching every Sunday. If you’re from Missouri and you like the Yankees just because isn’t that admiral but only caring about them cause they win is disgraceful.
The reason why I write this is because about a week ago my team, the ISU Cyclones, won their biggest football game in program history. The win was awesome but I was left with a hallow feeling. It was great to get the texts of congrats and getting respect from those that hated on my Cyclones but I didn’t do anything. I sat and watched and rooted but I didn’t play my heart out and make a difference. It made me think of why I loved these Cyclones so much and why something that I have waited so long for to happen came with mixed feelings. I started to think about my love of the school and the athletes I rooted for when I was a kid. I started to think about the fun of actually going to the games and being apart of Cyclone nation for only a little while. I started to think about Ames, a place where my fandom was welcomed and encouraged. I didn’t feel like the only fan but one fan out of many. It felt like my fan home. Then lastly I started to think about my sister. She used to play soccer for the Cyclones when I was young. I remember watching her soccer games and grabbing a little cyclone ball when the team would throw them out to the fans. I remember bragging to my friends about my big sister and how great she was at soccer. But what I’ll never forget about was how great it was to go to Ames and see my big sister for a short while. She was like a second mom to my younger sister and me and she was our hero. That’s why I love the Cyclones, Ames, and the traditions of Iowa State. So I sat back and started to enjoy that win because it wasn’t about the payoff but the journey that got me there. Being a true fan is loving a team because it has a special meaning to you and mine is that my big sister was a cyclone and I’ve always liked to think I was one too.