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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Today, the fictionary grows one word larger.

This is the thirteenth FWOTD.

fanatischism (fa-nat-i-skiz-uhm)
noun

a remarkable but completely avoidable cocktail of sadness and anger invariably stemming from one’s choosing to base a portion of his/her mood on the success and failures of a particular sports team or professional athlete

For example: “I am the biggest New York Mets fan in the world and can’t stand it when they lose!”

The ‘fanatischism’ explained visually in 10 seconds.

There is a great divide — a “schism” if you will — between the relationship that a fanatical sports fan believes he has with his most favorite team and the objective analysis of the relationship’s actual impact.  While the fan will claim to extract a great deal of happiness and will unquestionably justify the amount of time, energy, and money he puts into his favorite club, the reality is that far (far!) more often than not, his team will end up not winning a championship and he will be filled with pain and sadness.

And anger.

And he will transfer this anger — sometimes quietly and sometimes loudly — to his friends and loved ones.

And then those people will be sad and angry.

It is the circle of strife.

Statistically, if there are are 30 teams in a league and you are a “big fan” for 60 years, you will see your team win a championship twice.  You will see your team not win a championship 58 times.  Statistically.  And even in rare instances (roughly 3% of the time) where the favorite team does end up winning a championship, the joy is fleeting because another season is just around the corner.

It seems appropriate, then, to ask whether we are being fair to ourselves when we invest a huge amount of our emotional energy to root for people who do not care about us to do arbitrary things in order to win an particular set of games influenced by officials prone to human error in an league environment that — in an ideal universe — should lead to a small, fleeting window of euphoria in 3% of the years we spend invested?

Packers fans one short season after a SuperBowl victory

I suppose this analysis isn’t very interesting, except for the fact that we sports fans do this to ourselves for reasons that are not entirely clear.  There are very few rational reasons to root for a particular sports team/athlete, especially in the today’s completely demystified corporate sports environment.

Each season we witness our favorite athletes speak calmly and clearly into microphones around the world: This is a business.  You have to understand this is a business.  College athletes don’t make this point particular because they themselves do not get paid, but they probably should since it’s probably not an enormous coincidence that the NCAA brought in over $840 million in 2010-2011.

We know it is a business.

It is patently obvious that our professed love and unapologetic irrationality is being leveraged against us for economic gain, and we don’t seem to mind.

But maybe we should.

Let’s hash out the two sides of the sports fan relationship:

Fan’s View of Relationship With Team

  1. Chooses team usually based on proximity and/or tradition
  2. Cares deeply about outcome of games/seasons
  3. Spends money to show support for team
  4. Spends time monitoring progress of team
  5. Professes love and adoration for team employees

Team’s View of Relationship With Fan

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In the end, we are choosing to make enormous emotional, temporal, and financial commitments to people and entities who couldn’t care less about us and are engaging in a behaviors that have no meaningful impact on the real world.  

Unless, of course, your team wins — or loses! — a championship.

Fanatics after their team wins championship!

Fanatics after their team loses championship!

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