Don’t call me a fan

The post below is from “The Daily Fix,” the Wall Street Journal’s sports blog written by Jason Fry and Carl Bialik. It’s a great place to look for some of the best daily writing about sports.
If you read the Washington Post’s Alan Goldenbach‘s item below this one, you’ll understand why he and I are sometimes cynical about our interest in organized sports. It’s hard to remain a fan when fans act as Dick Meyer describes. Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs frequently praises the hometown fans who attend the game. Obviously, he doesn’t sit in the stands:

At a recent Bears-Redskins game in Washington, D.C., CBS News.com’s Dick Meyer was horrified by the behavior of his fellow fan — obscenities, stripteases and aggression were the hallmarks. It will be the last pro football game he attends, Mr. Meyer writes in the Washington Post. “There simply was no code of conduct, no social superego, that discouraged this behavior, even around children,” Mr. Meyer writes. “Worse, some people were there precisely to get drunk, angry, loud and vile. The idea that fans would have manners or courtesy in any form seems archaic and silly. Americans have been worried for a decade about the social isolation known as ‘bowling alone.’ But if the social bonding generated by ‘watching together’ is like the atmosphere at the Bears-Redskins game, it’s understandable why many people prefer to watch alone.”

Sportswriters need to be able to separate themselves from being a fan. Is that something you can do?



21 Responses to “Don’t call me a fan”

  1.   Phil Murphy Says:

    I think there, first, needs to be a distinction between a ‘fan’ as a follower or supporter and ‘fan’ as a fanatic.

    To properly and accurately report on a team or player, especially going beyond the box score, it takes an intricate — even intimate — knowledge of that person or team. Passion for that team, even adamant support of it, nurtures attentiveness that could result in especially stellar sports writing.

    Several prominent sports writers and personalities wear their supportive hearts on their sleeves — e.g. Dan Patrick to the Mets, Michael Wilbon with Chicago-based franchises, Stuart Scott with UNC-Chapel Hill, et al.

    The difference must come with a segregation between the drunken, unbridled espousal — read: “No cheering in the press box” — and the bipartisan reporting of whatever one is inclined or assigned to cover.

    I had the fortune of growing up in several areas of the United States, more affectionately referred to as a ‘military brat.’ I am a fan of Penn State football, the New York Mets, St. Louis Blues, Denver Broncos, and — why not — George Mason hoops. Until recently, I never could ‘root for the home team’ and have my seed of fanhood watered by my cohorts into a frenzy of unrealistic expectations, bordering delusions of grandeur — **cough** Redskins fans.

    If my football team was 6-10 — rough post-Elway years — and my opinion was asked on the team’s outlook, I could seperate my blind hope for an immediate Super Bowl run from the realization that the franchise is closer to being the first “on the clock” rather than reigning world champions.

    As long as those two areas are kept as black and white issues, and easily defined by a given member of the media, fanhood only strengthens one’s ability to provide unique and informative insight in his sports writing.

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