Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Three Types of Sports Fans

I know of three types of sports fans, the Devotee, the Front Runner and the Pink Hat.

The Devotees are the hardcore fans. They watch or listen to every game, they even build their daily schedules and vacations around the schedule of their teams. They have the gear, they know the score, they know the rules and nuances of the game. They listen to the game in the car, in the yard and at the office. They usually grew up with their team as the local team, but not always. If you are not a fan of the Devotee's team, they are often unbearable to be around. Devotees, together, are an extended fans. It is tribalism at its best and sometimes its worst. I am a Devotee of the Boston Red Sox. I grew up in New England an hour or so south of the town. I have been to Fenway Park over a hundred times and have seen them on the road at any number of parks (Chicago, Detroit,Montreal, Baltimore). Before the game last week, walking the Freedom Trail in Charlestown, I saw some fans in gear. We high-fived. I will die a Red Sox fan.

The Pink Hats are fans that are merely into it for social reasons. They go to the games, sometimes wearing their pink hats, because their friends are going or their dad is a fan. They annoy the Devotees. They do the wave. They get up to go the concession stands during the most inconvenient times. They talk on their phones or to each other about everything other than the game. If you are at a park that puts a big sign for the fans to "cheer," this is for the Pink Hat.  When I go to a Celtics, Bruins or Patriots game, I am a Pink Hat. I am there just for the fun of it. If the team wins or loses, eh, it doesn't matter, I had a good time.
Unlike the Front Runner, the Pink Hats are tolerable. They may annoy the Devotee, but they are not scourges of humanity like the Front Runner is. Front Runners have no loyalty, they root for whatever team that is in first place. They might root for the Red Sox this year, because they were in first place most of the year, but last year they rooted for another team. When the Patriots were really good in the early 2000's, they wore red, white and blue. When Yankees were really good in the 90's, they wore the pinstripe. They are always moving onto the next best thing. If you want your kids to learn some valuable life lessons from sports like loyalty and perseverance, avoid the Front Runner. A big problem with them, they can fit right in with the Devotees for a short time. They are camouflaged by knowledge and feigned enthusiasm. I almost root against my team so that they go away, but not quite.

These three types are usually extremely easy to identify at a game. I have been to so many baseball games, I know I can identify a non-baseball fan when I see one. The worst type of fan at a game, the Pink Hat that has had too many beers. It is easy to see a hockey fan at a baseball game, they are the folks getting into fights. You can identify the football fans, because they have stopped watching the game and are now watching hockey fans fighting. The baseball fans? They are peaking around the crowd to catch a glimpse of the game. Please sit down! I've never understood people getting excited to see a fight in the stands at a game. Luckily, it doesn't happen very often and most people ignore it ... those are the Devotees.

I have attended three post-season games in my life. I attended two games against Cleveland in 1999 at Fenway. It seemed to be a different game. No Pink Hats, no one doing the wave, they were driven away by high tickets cost. Good old supply and demand! Everyone at the game are hanging onto the edge of their seats at each and every pitch. The chants, the hand slapping, the bleachers umpires and box seat managers, the place is so full of character and atmosphere, I have experienced nothing like it. I attended game two against Tampa Bay Rays this year, it was the same. Koji Uehara striking out Rays like swatting flies and while over 35,000 fans responded to his every muscle twitch. It was electric!  I have a ticket for another game this year at Fenway, I plan on doing whatever I can to get to the game, because there is nothing like this. I might be at the point that I am done with regular season games.


Olga said...

I have also observed Devotees, Pink Hats, and Front Runners in the world of politics as well.

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