(This is a guest article by Michelle Hill)
Football fans everywhere enjoy a special camaraderie; we join forces in unwavering support and devotion for our team, despite geographic location or economic status, we’re all on an even playing field (no pun intended) when it comes to rooting for our favorite team.
There are three important fan traits that explain the frenzy of fan dynamics:
1. Fans tend to immortalize coaches and players. I’ve witnessed football fans standing for hours at training camps and hotels, nervously clutching hats, jerseys, posters, and footballs, anticipating players and coaches to amble by, in hopes of grabbing an autograph or even just a close-up look. Sometimes though, it seems as if we believe coaches and players are Demigods – half human and half god. We hold them up on an unachievable pedestal mounted with unrealistic expectations.
When a team wins, the fans perception of the coaches and players jets off the charts. Tony Dungy, former Colts coach who won his first Super Bowl in 2007, says it this way, “The perception of you does change. People are going to think that because you win, that now you have the answers. Now, some of the things that you say do in fact, work.”
2. Fans live vicariously through players or teams. Merriam-Webster describes vicariously as, “experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another.” This means you’re not experiencing it yourself, but using someone else’s experience as your own.
At the helm of our armchair, we can live vicariously through a quarterback, another high-level player, or coach. It appeals to our alter-ego and who we want to be or who we’d like to be; the fame, the media attention, the excellence of the craft, the glory. Living vicariously through the personnel of our favorite team gives us the chance to be in charge; risk-free and without aftermath.
3. Fans know no limits when demonstrating loyalty to a team. In November 2009, I was at the Bears/49ers game at Candlestick Park. I had a pre-game field pass through an NFL contact and it gave me a first-time, unique vantage point from which to look at the fans in the stands.
I started pondering how sports fans all over the country demonstrate their team loyalty. They holler till they’re hoarse, beat their hands together like a kettle drum, high-five perfect strangers, paint their faces in a shiny palette of colors and styles, sit in snow and rain for hours to watch their team, spend hundreds and thousands of dollars for tickets, and fight with opposing team fans when standing in line for a $500 beer in a plastic cup.
More rabid fans take their “loyalty” to the danger zone by hurling bottles toward players and joining private clubs specifically designed to attack and brutalize opposing fans, on occasion, even to the point of death. Of course, this is obviously not true loyalty but just plain nuts.
According to James McKinley Jr., in his article, Sports Psychology; It Isn’t Just a Game: Clues to Avid Rooting, states, “Some researchers have found that fervent fans become so tied to their teams that they experience hormonal surges and other physiological changes while watching games, much as the athletes do.
The frenzy of fan dynamics is a phenomenon that will forever attract the attention and ponderings of sports psychologists. When like-minded fans from across the country are bound together in a stadium, a certain fellowship takes place, a magic camaraderie unequaled in any other setting. May loyalty live on!
Michelle Hill, owner of Winning Proof, writes press releases, blog posts, brochures, and website content for fitness and sports-related companies. Her mission is to help fitness professionals and athletes achieve a greater level of success in their entrepreneurial endeavors with her writing expertise. Feel free to learn more and connect with her here.