In this entry I define the many types of sports fans and establish a categorization of the different levels of sports fans. Nothing annoys me more than when someone says, “I am the biggest fan of (place team here),” when in fact they can not name more than two players on the team. Therefore, I have clearly defined the different levels of fandom so that fans can understand in which level they belong, and so that they can stop kidding themselves. There are five categories of fans: Insane, Avid, General, Fair Weather, and Couch. Each of these groups have different characteristics that separate one from another, and all fans fit into one of these five categories.
An insane fan achieves the ultimate level of fandom, although it is not necessarily the most desirable level. The insane fan knows everything that has ever occurred in relation to his/her favorite sports team. This type of fan watches every game played by this team. He/she watches the pregame and postgame press conferences, reads scouting reports, and travels all over the country to follow the team. His/her life revolves around the success of the team. For example, if the team wins on Sunday, the insane fan is happy and content because of the victory. However, if the team loses the next game, the fan becomes depressed and is unhappy in general because of the outcome. They are difficult to talk with, as their attitude towards life in general is terrible in that moment. This level of fandom is not desirable, because it is actually an unhappy and unhealthy way to live.
The next level of fandom is the avid fan. Avid fans, like insane fans, know everything about their team, past and present. They enjoy watching all the team’s games and often try to attend some of the games. The major difference between avid fans and insane fans is that the outcome of games does not affect avid fans’ attitudes or their daily lives. Avid fans care deeply about the success of the team, and may be upset for a day or two over a loss; however, the success or failure of the team will not define avid fans’ lives. These people live their lives and execute daily functions as usual, even after a loss, and do not allow the outcome of the game to negatively affect their daily routine. This level of fandom is much more desirable, as it allows people to be passionate about sports in a much healthier fashion.
The third level of fandom is the general fan. General fans know a lot about their team, although the knowledge of the team usually does not extend to the past. A general fan knows a decent amount about the current players and the current team, but rarely knows the important history of the franchise he/she follows. General fans also have less of a vested interest in the success of their teams than insane and avid fans. These fans might be upset directly after their team loses and for a few hours after, but they will not lose sleep because of a loss. This is the most basic type of fan, and this group encompasses most fans. This level allows fans to follow sports and to have fun while doing it, but these fans are not passionate enough about sports to let it affect their daily lives.
The next fan level is a fair weather fan. This level represents those fans that are only fans of the team when the team is doing well. To put this in perspective, the New York Yankees have many fair weather fans, whereas the Kansas City Royals do not. A fair weather fan does not know very much about the team, from the schedule, to the players, to the history of the team. This type of fan does not have a vested interest in the success or failure of the team, as these fans only follow the team when it is successful. Such a periodic following of the team does not allow for a great sense of satisfaction or accomplishment when the team does well, because the fan has no way of knowing the pain of past defeat. Being this type of fan can be very unfulfilling and unrewarding. One of the greatest feelings for fans is when that team finally wins after years of losing. Fans feel ecstatic because of the victory and because they have a frame of reference to the feeling of defeat. Fair weather fans do not have that frame of reference and therefore can never experience the true sense of victory.
A couch fan is the lowest and simplest level of fandom. A couch fan has little or no vested interest in the success of the team and has no knowledge about the team. This level is defined as couch fan because these are the fans that rarely watch games or follow the team. The only time these fans watch the games are if they are sitting on the couch and the game happens to be on television. For example, if someone is flipping randomly through channels after finishing homework, he/she might come across the Big Ten Network. He/she could start watching the Penn State basketball game that is being played, with no prior knowledge that the game was being played that night. That is the simplest example of a couch fan. Couch fans have no knowledge or interest in the success of the team. This level of fandom is very unrewarding, as there is no passion or energy associated with being a couch fan. However, it is often the case that couch fans are much more honest with themselves than fair weather fans. Couch fans do not care that much about their teams and they admit it, whereas fair weather fans often believe and want others to believe that they are in a higher fan level than they actually are.