Taxonomy of the Superfan

By Johnny Ginter on February 11, 2014 at 11:15a

Something that I've always been endlessly fascinated with is scientific graphs and pictures that illustrate a complex concept or idea in a really infantile way. Evolution for instance, is a lengthy, complex, and some would say beautiful construct of the natural world, so naturally scientists use wonky clip art and MS Paint to fully convey the beauty of Mother Earth's machinations.

That strikes a very specific and very hilarious chord with me, almost as much as my appreciation for alliteration always attempts. In fact, one of the first articles that I ever wrote for Eleven Warriors was related to this very idea. Way back in 2010, I figured that a Punnett Square would be an appropriate way to show that despite coming from the same Rust Belt stock, exactly why Ohio State is so good while Michigan and Penn State are so lame and dumb. Here were the results of my exhaustive and highly refined analysis:


As you can see, Michigan sucks, and so does Penn State. Ohio State does not. That's science. 

And even though I'm technically a Social Studies teacher in real life, through my hard work on Eleven Warriors I've gained a certain amount of expertise in the field of Making Up Things That Look Sciencey And Putting Them On The Internet.

What brought all this on again was the news that Texas Tech Superfan Jeff Orr will no longer be attending Raider basketball games this season after he said something mean/allegedly racist to Marcus Smart, who then pushed him because he either was offended or just mad that a goofy fat guy wouldn't shut up. I don't know or really care what Orr actually said, but I do know that squat, obnoxious tongue waggers rarely do well in the wild. Superfans like Orr seemed doomed to extinction as saner, less irritating fans move in on their habitat and force them to find environs elsewhere.

Then these tweets came in from Tim Jessberger, one of the leaders of Block O:

Quack quack

If you breathe, fart, eat, sleep, whatever, you belong here. This is the realm of all living things on earth, and generally everyone is pretty cool. You have your share of jerks (ants, most cats, Kim Jong-Un), but for the most part animals are chill dudes. I like 'em.

Oh, hello.

Animals found in the phylum Firstworldia are generally aware of sports as a recreational activity. They may or may not be actual fans of sport, but if you held up a picture of Michael Jordan in front of them, they'll either quote Space Jam compulsively or grudgingly admit that sports (SPORTS! Of all things) has entered into their consciousness in a permanent way.

Sports exist. Firstworldia recognizes this, but what separates it from other phyla is that on any hierarchy of needs, it will inevitably place an awareness of sports before an awareness of other social issues such as famine, war, or injustice.

We like sports and don't care who knows

Your Average Joe sports fan. They have their teams that they root for, and should that team win or lose, it will trigger an emotional reaction in their brains that causes a general feeling of sadness or happiness. The severity of this emotional reaction depends on the particular species, but should that reaction be seen in Clevelandus Brownius, it is almost universally negative and sad.

A little bit louder now...

Sports fans in the the order Espnitae go beyond merely noticing and reacting to sports in general; instead, they religiously follow their favorite sports on television, and put great stock into what is being said about their favorite teams in whatever media they consume.

Those in Espnitae will watch any and all media related to their favorite teams, up to and including 20 minute videos of a History 398 presentation where a group of students that includes Jake Lorbach narrates a PowerPoint about Kemal Ataturk.

A little bit louder now...

This family is defined by their ability to go even further than the standard die-hard fan, and everything that is present in the general order of Espnitae is amplified tenfold. For instance, if a member of Espnitae watches Sportcenter on a regular basis, someone from the family Obsessivus has written a 5000 word plea to Linda Cohn to find a way to increase the amount of hockey coverage on NBC from the hours of 6-8 am.

If a member of Espnitae saved Youngstown Boys in their DVR, a member of Obsessivus has bought property in Youngstown, Ohio and is currently renovating it to look like Maurice Clarett's childhood home.

Okay way too loud right now...

Irritatia is a subgroup of Obsessivus that is notoriously hard to get rid of. Attention seekers, hangers-on, and gloryhogs to the ultimate degree, they use their sports fandom as a means to glorify themselves for all eternity in the eyes of other members of the genus Irritatia. Those not within this genus are generally repulsed by their behavior, odor, loud colors, noise, or some combination thereof.

Members of Irritatia are the genus most likely to preceive some kind of long lasting bond with young athletes after a short interaction, such as an autograph, handshake, or sideways glance. Irritatia can become creepy/weird if given enough time around their chief prey, television cameras.


The worst. Just the pits.

The genus Irritatia is generally a loathsome group with few positive qualities, but in general they are harmless. Saddus Maximus is not. This species has lost the battle for their own dignity, and are now seeking to win a victory over big time athletes to justify their sad, declining position in life. Obscene gestures, racial slurs, implications of fornication with mothers, and a whole host of other sad, sad thoughts and actions are all in the repertoire of this creature.

They inhabit sports arenas, Twitter accounts, Facebook, comment threads, YouTube, the air ducts in Aaron Craft's apartment, autograph signings, XBox Live, and pretty much whenever sports are discussed at any kind of length at any time and any place.

The terrible secret of Saddus Maximus is that if these things are taken away from them and they are forced from their habitats, if they suddenly lose the ability to be rude and obscene to athletes, then they'll simply disappear.

And that would be perhaps the greatest tragedy of them all.

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