Social aspect of being a sports fan

OnTay Johnson

Sports reveal a lot about the human personality, character and psyche. A couple of weeks ago, my boss, a UCLA alumnus, gave me tickets to go see a basketball match between UCLA and Long Beach State at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood. Now, I am not the biggest UCLA fan, but they have a pretty good team. But I noticed that the people I was sitting around were really irrational in their zeal for the Bruins.

The ref blows the whistle, foul on number 22!

“Aw, that wasn’t a foul, the ref is blind,” is what I heard all night.

But most of them were. And the travels that were called were travels. And the ref didn’t make some of the calls against the opposing team because THEY DID NOT HAPPEN!

After this event I walked away realizing how stupid and biased I, too, can be about the teams and players I follow in sports. Not to mention how judgmental I am when someone says something I don’t agree with.

I also realized how impassioned and sympathetic I could be toward certain players and teams because of the most trivial of reasons.

The countless near-blows I have gotten into defending what player I thought was better or what team I thought was going to win.

“Shut up, Kobe Bryant is nowhere near Jordan,” or, “Yeah right, if they win the Super Bowl then you should play the lottery forecasting crap like that!” are just a couple of the comments I and others make when defending the teams and players that we intravenously live through.

The truth is, despite how trivial sports can be, they are incredibly important in our daily lives.

Think about when you first meet someone. The subject of sports is one of the most go-to icebreakers in a conversation.

And yet it is also the initial reason so many fights among friends occur.

It is as if sports possess us.

Look at the video game industry. Most of the best-selling games are sports-related.

The fact is, sports reveal a great deal about us as human beings and our natural inclination to compete, conform and escape the humdrum.

It reveals our love for our city or our disdain for following the crowd.

It reveals our passion and desire to be a part of something.

Somehow, for some reason, sports and how people interact in relation to them are a microcosm of larger creeds, ideologies and beliefs we live by.

Ever like a team from a town that you have never lived in or been to? People get so annoyed as if you do not have the right – especially if they just so happen to be a dynasty.

You can see it in their eyes. They stigmatize you – placing you in the same category as people who talk loudly on their cell phones while in public.

Never mind the fact that you might have a nostalgic association with the team because the first time you ever sat down with your father to watch football it was the Super Bowl, and the San Francisco 49ers just so happened to be playing and winning, and became the team you chose as your team.

And who cares if you like a team because they won something, people like cars because they are aesthetically appealing. People buy clothes that look good on them. So why can’t a person pick a team that they like to watch win. Can’t they just be a fan of the game or a certain player?

I am not condoning it, but I am not going to knock it, at least for this article’s sake anyway. It’s sports, not politics (although these days it can be both).

Prime example: Last week my second favorite team, the New Orleans Saints, played my favorite team (since I was six) the San Francisco 49ers. I was torn – sort of. Reggie Bush scored four touchdowns and the Saints handled my Niners. I found myself feigning like I was really hurt. But I was only hurt a little because I’m developing into a Reggie Bush fan.

Some might say that I am not a true fan. But I beg to differ. It is just that I am a little partial to the Saints for a couple of reasons. I praise the underdog stigma in Drew Brees being traded from San Diego and now he is excelling as a quarterback so I am happy for him, not to mention that for some strange reason I think the birthmark on the cheek is cool.

Plus, in my life I am surrounded by UCLA zealots. I work with them, the woman I love is an alumnus and a lot of people I go to church with go to or went to UCLA, and I’m sick of the Bruin talk. Reggie Bush became my sanctity from all the Bruin propaganda I have dealt with on a daily basis over the past few years. And most of these people hate him, so seeing him shine is therapeutic, especially living within a couple miles of Westwood, where the blue and gold cult forcefully colors my life.

Sports are such a trivial matter in our world, why not let people express themselves through it? I have no problem with the big, beer-bellied fan who paints his face and chest and sits in 20-degree weather screaming for his winless team.

Arguing and debating about sports is fun, don’t get me wrong. I am just making an observation.

And there is nothing wrong with the bandwagon-jumping guy switching teams every couple of years if that is what he or she wants to do (no matter how revealing it is about their character). It’s sports, so I will not judge them-too harshly.

And if someone hates the team of the city they reside in more power to them. It shows their resilience (and probably also stubbornness,) and that is admirable.

Let sports fans be fans no matter how peculiar or annoying their love for a team or player is, because in essence getting excited about watching people run around throwing balls, shooting hoops or knocking someone out is usually because our lives are so boring and we feed off seeing anything remotely estranged from our everyday lives.