If you write, listen, or watch sports long enough, the phrase ” fan is short for fanatic”, will find you. Passing that off as an excuse for abhorrent behavior feels rather weak. Considering much of negative fan behavior would not fly in any other location, the need to infantilize idiocy remains a tried and true tradition. Steeped in this backward notion is the defense by other fans. Well, with the adults in the room, one thing remains: a section of fans goes too far in their devotion.
The Salary Notion
In the deluded fan’s mind, they believe that they possess the inalienable right to conduct themselves any way they see fit. Reason? The thought of ” I buy merch, attend games, I pay their salary” Without a doubt, this rationale can never cease. In actuality, the TV networks pay the NFL billions. Granted, ticket prices for eight home games and two preseason games skyrocket. That money is nothing to dismiss. Yet, on the whole, making comments that would get you arrested, ejected, or potentially hurt doesn’t give anyone that level of carte blanche.
History of Foolishness
While most areas of sports are a fine line, being an adult shouldn’t be. Today, Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr is the widely respected leader of a modern dynasty. Back in 1988, as a player for the University of Arizona, he became a target of otherwordly taunts from fans. In 1984, Kerr’s father, Malcolm, worked as president of the American University in Beirut. That year, members of an extremist group shot and killed the elder Kerr. A disturbing number of students at Arizona State chanted ” P-L-O”, ” Your father is history”. Now, a simple boo or “you suck” would suffice. Yet, the ticket/fandom entitlement reared its ugly head. If Kerr were in a bar, or at the beach, would these people feel as bold? Probably not. Working in a gleeful chant, mocking the death of an opponent’s is the worst. However, that incident, like previous examples, only emboldened the idiocy.
The Fallacy of Midwest Nice
Living in Wisconsin for seventeen years, encountering fans of the Green Bay Packers is a common occurrence. While some watch just for the spectacle and entertainment surrounding the game, there are diehards that take the game in a freakish life-or-death manner. For example, take the case of former tight end Brandon Bostick. In the 2014 NFC Championship Game, and the Packers leading, Bostick needed to corral an onside kick attempt to secure the game. Slipping through his hands, the Seahawks recovered. Later, the Seahawks won in overtime. Too many of the Packers faithful, Bostick embodies what ailed the team. Forgetting the defense squandered a twelve-point lead, the venom found Bostick, in the form of death threats. One month later, the team cut the tight end. In football, cuts occur, yet the wanton disregard for Bostick’s safety shouldn’t. Fast forward, and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling suffered a crucial fumble. As a result, fans focused their vitriol upon him.
Fandom Becomes Stannery
If you are familiar with the Eminem hit ” Stan”, the term should ring a bell. Basically, a sports stan is someone so devoted to a celebrity that it obscures rational thought and reason. The stan’s sole mission: love the celebrity and defend them versus all criticism. If you hop on social media and disparage Mariah Carey, Beyonce, or Taylor Swift, in any way, the swarm will find and harass you. Jumping back to sports, a stan, like most fungi and crabgrass sprouts from anywhere, Offer a critique, rooted in facts and stans jump in your mentions. To me, stanning a player in a team sport doesn’t make sense. People should have a favorite player, but not at the cost of common sense and the team. Stans give smart sports fans the worst reputation. That single devotion and dedication to a player that doesn’t know you’re alive feels rather creepy. That leads to..
Big Bad Lucille
For the last couple of seasons, fans of the Las Vegas Raiders embraced a superfan/persona, known as Lucille. Bringing nothing but joy, positivity, and fun, Lucille interacted with many, a company designed a signature t-shirt, Raider players shouted her out. Overall, people loved the character and woman under the wig. A decorated military veteran and student, Lucille brought a semblance of laughs and feeling or mirth to the fanbase. While I know her real name, out of respect, I will not reveal it here.
Ugly Fan Behavior
During Joe Biden’s inauguration, Raiders’ QB Derek Carr posted a photo of him in a beige workout vest. Adorning the vest? A US flag. It resembled body armor worn by domestic terrorists. Under any other circumstances, that would not matter. However, two weeks after the Capitol riots, and what people perceive as Carr’s political leanings didn’t sit right. Lucille simply said that she thought Carr’s photo was ill-timed. She did not mock, disparage or insult the quarterback. Yet, that did not stop stans from poisoning her mentions with racial slurs and threats of bodily harm. The distinguished veteran under the wig took it off and walked away from the character. Why? Some unhinged fan decided that she did not have the right to peaceably question the timing of a photo.
On a personal note, I know Lucille. She visited our podcast, early in the process, providing insight, humor, and perspective. The fact that someone threatened her safety over innocuous critique astounds me. Entering my seventh year covering the Raiders, I’ve been lucky to meet intelligent, thoughtful fans. However, the growing section of the fanbase, solely devoted to Derek Carr disturbs me. To a football player, the game is their life. To a regular, supposedly sane adult, football is a diversion. Those lines should never blur.
If you support a team, go all out, cheer/boo, whatever. Meanwhile, venture far away from the stanning aspect. You’re not a part of the team, you are a consumer. These athletes are adults, capable of speaking for themselves. Running around them like a seven-year-old is trifling. Exercise self-control and a little respect. The word fan remains short for fanatic, but not short for “irrational clown”. Know the difference. I hold the hope that Lucille will rock the wig again.