For the Love of the Game

When Alex watches sports, he’s focused and quiet. He doesn’t make running commentary or celebrate outwardly. I can be sitting next to him during an amazing play, and we might as well be watching a PBS pledge drive, he’s so stoic.

This goes against everything that inspirational sports films, sitcoms, and Super Bowl commercials have told me about what sports fans are like. Here’s what I’ve always thought to be true of them:

They’re expressive.

Sports fans are loud and bold. If their team loses, they get a wild instinct to punch something. They have a tribal ferocity about them. If you’re a true fan, you know how to project. You paint your face and body. You jump up and down and embrace your neighbor if your team scores. It’s almost supernatural, this pride and joy that compels you to chant, wear strange headwear, and storm the field when you’re victorious.

And buy more tickets. And do it all over again. For the love of the game.

They love swag. 

A true fan responds emotionally to things like this: “The first 500 fans will receive a free tote bag!”

Or this:

Soda = $7 (BUT… get it in our 2017 Limited Edition Souvenir Cup for $15, and you can TAKE IT HOME with you!) 

What is it about professional sports teams that think we need more free cups and tote bags and bobbleheads and baseball caps and little useless towels with absolutely no absorbency?

I keep trying to hide Alex’s collection of souvenir cups in the closet. He keeps finding them.

They love beer.

Sports aficionados have an undying love for beer. Whether you’re watching from the comfort of your couch, at a tailgate, or in the stadium, where there are sports, the beer is plentiful. The cool place to watch the game is no longer your neighborhood Champps. Everybody’s at the local brewery, kicking back a nice cold one.

Why did it have to be beer? Why couldn’t it have been fruit smoothies? Or lemonade?

Enjoy your beer, fans. I wish I could understand this one, but I just don’t like that stuff. More for you.

They can’t live without the largest-screen TV.

Because how are you supposed to enjoy the game when you know there are larger TVs out there?

Every Black Friday, Alex goes straight for the Best Buy ad. Usually he’s disappointed by whatever TV they’re discounting, but there’s always that little glimmer of hope that an upgrade is in our future.

This stereotype’s a little unfair, though. We less-crazy fans always put it on the obsessed fan to tell us it’s time to buy a new TV. And while we roll our eyes, we’re secretly happy to get to watch our Netflix shows at a higher resolution.

So maybe it’s time to relax a little on this one.

Yes, there’s truth to the stereotypes…

But the fun of sports is that anybody can be a fan, no matter how you express your passion for the game. And that’s wonderful news to a sensitive introvert like me. I don’t want to storm the field after we win. The rising roar of an arena full of spectators sometimes overstimulates me so much that I want to cry (and go get mini doughnuts).

So be your own particular brand of fan.

And don’t try to pawn off your souvenir cups on me.

Photo Caption: Some crazy fans. Or just me and my friends at the State Fair. Who I hope don’t get mad at me for using their photo.

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