Being a sports fan today can be more about the art of seeking balance than the science of learning all there is to know about your favorite team. Social media has changed our ability to interact with fans of opposing teams. Fantasy sports has affected our perspective of many games we watch. Changes to free agency and how players interact has caused some fans to stop being a fan of the jersey entirely. Being a fan means different things to different people.
Social media and interaction
An innocent comment on Twitter or Facebook can quickly turn into a fracas. How we choose to deal with this situation defines our fandom and how we view social media. We can be defensive of our turf or we can brush off uneducated comments and move on. Either way, you have to be ready to interact with fans from across the NFL.
National pundits fuel the fires
There are people paid to create controversy and publicize it. Most fans see through it now. These talking heads are not experts. They don’t generally have all the facts before they throw out their takes. It’s a game and a paycheck for them. We lose as fans when we listen and react.
Rivalries bring about more intensity
Rivalries make sports great. There are so many rivalries that exist and new ones are born all the time. Raising the stakes in games makes a season more interesting. Most rivalries are geographic, but many were born in the pursuit of league titles. Added banter between fans and players can create a playoff-like atmosphere during the regular season.
The changing look of free agency
Free agency rules vary from league to league. Yet, things are different from just a decade or two ago. Players change teams more often and have more control. In the NBA, players band together now to form the team they want. The color of the jersey is becoming less and less important to a percentage of fans.
Fantasy sports is a huge business and an interest to many sports fans. Some people think it’s ruining sports because of the way we watch individual players, while others have no issue with backing their team and playing fantasy. Fantasy is far from a new phenomenon. You have to feel like it’s already had its impact on fans.
Being a long-time fan
It’s an acquired taste like a fine wine or a craft beer. That’s why we get so defensive when people say things about our team. We love our team like we love our favorite song. It’s individualistic and can’t be explained to someone else. We likely paid our dues to learn about the game and our team. Our team may also be a tradition passed down through generations. That means you’re messing with our family when you say something negative about our team.
Respectful discussion versus name-calling
The solution to all of this is to respect each other as fans. The fan of the opposition is sipping on their favorite wine just like you are. You don’t need to understand it. You need to respect each other as human beings. Forget the name-calling, fisticuffs and awful behavior. Friendly banter is acceptable between friends, just keep it civil. Above all else, remember that it’s a game.