Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fanatics!

I have never really been a big pro sports fan.  Like many things in my life I enjoy doing it rather than watching someone else do it.  I have never been in to hockey, basketball, golf, or baseball.  I have been a football fan for most of my life though.  I do enjoy playing all these sports, but the time commitment required to be a fan is pretty daunting.

My main sports these days would be CFL football (Go Riders!) and NASCAR.  That being said I am a pretty poor fan.  I find it hard to find the time to watch all the games and races.  And I only follow one team, and one race series.  There are people who follow all the games/races/matches of multiple sports.  Plus they follow stats, rankings and fantasy leagues.  This all adds up to a huge amount of time.  But that is okay.  Some people geek out about sports, and some geek out about other stuff.  I usually go with other stuff.  But, as I mentioned I am a Rider fan too.

I grew up as a rider fan, as my parents (especially Mom) are fans.  I have great memories of going to games in the summer, and cheering along with Gainer (the mascot), or bundling up in every scrap of clothing I own to cheer on the team in Playoff games in October or November.  I remember doing yard work while listening to games on the radio (before we had televised games).  Even when games were tense, or we didn't win, it was a fun experience.  I grew up through the years when our team sucked.  When making the playoffs was a miracle, when finishing not in last place was awesome!  But times have changed for our Riders.

Saskatchewan fans got the label of best fans in the CFL for sticking with out team through all those bad years.  No matter how they did, the fans supported them.  But in the recent decade the team and organization has improved.  They made it to three Grey Cup games in four years, and won one of them (should have been two, but that is another story).  They have been underdogs, and defending champions, and there have been some really great moments.  But, I find that this success has changed the mood of our fans.

Sask. fans still claim to be the best in the league, but there seems to be so much more negativity these days.  This year our team has struggled, but for the most part they have played well, even if all the games weren't wins.  But instead of people enjoying the games and excitement, they seem focused on whether we won or lost, and are quick to judge and throw blame around.  Everyone seems obsessed with winning the season, and winning the Grey Cup.  That is a good goal to have, but it shouldn't be the only one.  We should still be able to enjoy the game, win or lose.  But more and more people just end up angry, and/or disappointed.

Another example of this is the NHL playoffs.  Every year people get really invested in their team, and most of the people end up being let down and angry, when their team blows it in game 7.  It gets to the point where people riot.  They steal and wreck shit over the outcome of a game.  It is crazy that people can affected so deeply by a game.

But, I guess the word fan comes from the word fanatic, so maybe it is entirely appropriate for these people.  If that is the case I think I am more of a spectator of sports than a fan.  A spectator can simply watch the game, and enjoy the highlights (for both teams).  Most of the players share a sense of friendly competition, so why can't the fans?

2 comments:

  1. Two thoughts -

    1. I'm kind of creeped out by the fanaticism surrounding the riders (merchandise, especially)

    2. From the perspective of someone who hasn't ever been a part of it, the rider fans do seem to have gotten kind of virulent and angry lately. That whole thing about the 13th man (?) sounded like people hated the team.

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  2. I'm not sure if it's just my parents' total indifference to all sports that kept me insulated from fans of all kinds as a kid, but I never even -noticed- Rider fans before the team started doing well in the last few years.

    I wonder if there's a good non-biased source out there to cut through the genius marketing the team has had in recent years to tell us about the actual history of the team and fans.

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