Photo by: dcjohn
I'm always amazed at how American culture revolves around its sporting events. We are so immersed in our own athletics, that we shun popular sports elsewhere (How many Americans are fanatical about Soccer? Nowhere near our European counterparts).
With baseball season in full swing and basketball and hockey are winding down their seasons it seems appropriate to think about sports.
So why all of the fan-dom? What does it do for us? Intense fan-dom can be a wonderful commonality to bring random groups of people together. It can serve as a common link when in a situation where you don't know anyone. Whenever my mother is anywhere in public and she sees someone wearing the University of Michigan blue "M", she immediately feels a connection to that stranger. She takes it one step farther by stating to them "Go Blue." Many times, that strikes up a conversation. At the very least, it evokes a smile. But instantly, this one phrase bonds her to a stranger. In this way, fan-dom can serve an a connecting force.
Fan-dom doesn't always connect. Many times, it can be divisive. Many Yankee and Red Sox fans can't stand to be in the same room with one another. In the middle of a heated battle between the two teams, it isn't surprising for fights to break out. Not to pick on Philadelphia, but fans from the City of Brotherly Love betray that moniker when it comes time for football games or hockey games. Especially with rivals from Washington. It is common for violence to erupt, blood to spill, and injuries to occur...and these are the off the field incidents.
Can people overcome these intense emotions? Not easily. Recently, the Washington Redskins (of which I'm a die-hard fan) acquired the quarterback from a rival team. The fan reaction was mixed: while everyone was able to admit that this was an upgrade for the position, his previous allegiance filled some with ire. These types of trades get played out on the field as the new player has something to prove to both his new and old team.
So this summer, be a fan. Teach your kids about teamwork and connectedness. But with every fan, there can lurk a dark side beneath the surface.