So, fandom. Are you a fan of a team whose stadium is not located within 200 mils of your hometown? Did your father not hold you as a child? Its okay. Professionals have dealt with this issue before – it´s not that you´re not special, it´s just that your conditions is pretty common.
At Run of Play, Alan Jacobs waxed sometime ago on fandom and adulthood – basically, as we age, we become more fickle and can discard teams like a worn-out pair of shoes. Did you like Leeds in the mid-90´s? When was the last time your wrapped their scraf around your neck? And Spurs this season, after back-to-back losses? So three weeks ago.
Cyrus Phillbrick at Footsmoke turned in a belated yet delicious treat. Cyrus concedes that fandom is a malleable process – our preferences can change over time, which explains why you used to listen to Nirvana 12 hours a day but now use “Bleach” as a coaster. However, he notes that with loyalty, the emotions surge, the highs get higher, and the investment seemingly more rewarding.
Perhaps the greatest peril for adult fanhood is the “inevitable explanation.” At some point or another, you will be asked to justify your preference. When asked about my love of Real Madrid, a simple equation sufares. Hugo Sanchez = Mexican. Hugo Sanchez = former great Real Madrid player. Me = half-Mexican. Me = half-interested Real Madrid fan.
But explanations are slippery things. To eloquently parahprase Freud – once you have to rationalize a decision, post-decision, you probably did something very naughty. Yet I feel no guilt for my glory-following of Manchester United. They win. I like to feel like a winner. Everything´s great. We both win. It´s quite simple really.
However, I give credit to Cyrus for acknowledging the bonds of affection, suffering, and loyalty. I recall a desolate, freezing October winter when, in the heart of Washington, D.C., my friend Santi and I huddled over a laptop, catching broken glimpses of a shattering 3-2 loss of the Kansas City Wizards to the New York Red Bulls. I have never wanted to throw my laptop through a window except for one night.
But then there is joy. As a Kansan, I was weened on Jayhawk basketball. Superstitions abound. We endured back-to-back first round playof losses, both of which were followed by weeks of sulking. However, in the Spring of 2008, KU won in the first round. And I noted a coincidence – instead of going to the KU bar in DC, I stayed at home and watched by myself.
So I stayed in for the next game. And the next. And in the final game, when Mario Chalmers hit the game-tying three point shot, into the apartment stumbled my roommate and his girlfriend. After shouts of panic, screaming, and some wrestling, I begrudgingly allowed them to watch extra-time with me. It was not regulation, so the presence of others would not break the jinx. And it didn´t. And my roommate still has a picture of me on my knees, eating the bill of a KU basketball hat as if it were a filet mignon sauteed to perfection by Siobhan Phillips.
You must make your own bed, I´m afraid. Are you some sexy, globe-trotting consumer with pounds to spare and an array of silke Chelsea scarves? I am a stimple, hat munching Kansan. But a happy one.