Fair-Weather Sports Fans

Danny - Inside The Shoe's picture
October 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm


What Does it Mean to be a "Fan"?

This guy is a real Cavs fan.

Now that I have lured you in with a funny picture, I have a deeper question that has been on my mind (the title does kind of give it away). Above my desk at work I have various posters and pennants of my favorite teams, Cleveland Cavaliers included. When someone new walks near my desk and notices said posters, they almost always ask "Are you still a Cavs fan?" I was so surprised by this the first time it was asked that I almost didn't know what to say. Of course I am, why wouldn't I be a Cavs fan? "Well, Lebron is gone and they are going to be pretty bad now" is the response I most often get when I defend my choice of NBA teams (I PROMISE, this is not an article about Lebron, trust me).

By now, I get pretty annoyed when somebody asks me that question. I do not have a bunch of Lebron posters on that wall to indicate that he is my favorite player (there are no Lebron images allowed in that office). In fact, there are exactly zero player-specific pictures, just images and logos of the teams. This has got me to thinking, does the average, casual sports fan follow teams, or follow players?

I used to think that people had favorite teams, that they were somehow connected to, and that you cheered for the players on that team because, well, they were on that team. It never really occurred to me that it was the exact opposite for some people, that they had favorite players and they cheered for the team those athletes just happened to be playing for at any given time. I grew up watching the Indians win division title after division title, and playoff series after playoff series, only to come up short on the biggest stage (twice). There were players on those teams that I loved to watch play, that I idolized as a young boy. As it goes in sports, the team had to rebuild eventually, and all of those players eventually left. But I didn't become a Phillies fan because Jim Thome went there, or an Atlanta Braves fan because Kenny Lofton got traded. It was always about (cliché warning) the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
The same goes for the Cavs. When the team moved Dajuan Wagner Ricky Davis Luke Jackson ....
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