A Semi-Athletic Perspective on Sport: To Become a Super Fan
A True Look at My Own Fandom Level for the Indianapolis Colts
Let me paint a picture of my status as a sports fan: more specifically an Indianapolis Colt’s fan. On any given football Sunday, or perhaps a Monday (though probably not for a while), I awake with one thing that I deem as my necessity for the day. I’m not a religious man and know that I should spend more free time with my family, but Sundays for me, especially September through January Sundays, are designed for no other reason than pouring brews down my throat and yelling at my television with some of my closest friends adorned in various garments of blue and white.
It is my intention with prefacing this that I must say that I am ashamed of my claim as a fan of the team that has dominated one seventh of my weeks for the last fifteen years.
Sure, I plan my routine around the team. I put jerseys on my Christmas lists, comically I requested a Joseph Addai replica last year because I felt, “He’s going to be one of our guys for awhile!”, and follow fan blogs in between the comings and goings of my various managers as they pass my desk with watchful eyes.
My downfall as a fan comes in the way my fandom expresses itself. One day a week for between 16-20 weeks a year I rock out AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells pregame and slap around a multitude of high fives as touchdowns are hurled downfield to speedy receivers. I spout off facts read from blogs written by much greater Horse fans as if they’re my own in order to impress co-workers twenty years my senior, hoping they form an idea that I’m a guy who understands the game.
The term “Super Fan” isn’t claimed by someone with my resume as a novice follower. I truly bestow it on a select few within my group of friends. It is by years of repetitive action, emotion and charisma that a man can come to use the monicker of a super fan.
As a comparison, let’s take a few scenarios involving myself with these crazed lunatics who truly love the horseshoe, to their core. Where I may exclaim a simple, “Wow, nice pass!” after a bomb of a throw, these super fans go into an annoyingly, excrutiating amount of detail on how the play unfolded. “He used a stutter step on the deep post after the back faked into the A gap to draw up the backer and freeze the corner!” Here in lies the basis for why I can’t take the claim of super fan. For in these moments no one can understand the deep, crushing sense of idiocy I feel from only being able to contribute something as unequivocally unimportant as a “Wow”. If someone sat me down, showed me a still frame from directly after a snap and asked me to point out an A gap, I would stand up and glare at this individual, cursing them for being a pompous jerk and storm from the room.
Whether it be a 1:00 pm early afternoon matchup or a late night Monday Night Football extravaganza, I have a close friend who can consistently find room for an average of fourteen heavy beers deep within his belly. Fuel for the super fan, massive amounts of beer and ribs a good portion of the time. Once again, a shining example of my lacking in the fan department. Where a super fan thinks nothing else but the game, the moment, the team, I consider the irreparable harm that a hangover could do to my Monday morning meetings. I do extensive calculations in my head where you take the time of day (inversely the amount of sleep you’re likely to get) divided by the amount of beers and factoring in both the size of my dinner and the liquid measure of sweat I am sure to lose based off the intensity of the match to find out my cutoff point. Is this something a pure Colt’s fan should have to do during the pivotal moments of a close divisional game. It am truly ashamed in these moments but my fear of the inevitable questions as to why my eyes are so red or my hand is shaking scares the shame away. Even worse, the super fan's call the next day explaining how he got out of work by calling in with the excuse that he has food poisoning from taking his ill grandmother out for sushi on her birthday makes me feel even lower as a fan than I already do.
The playoffs contort the situation into an unanticipated show of raw emotion, something every fan absolutely must possess. Alas, I either do not have it in me or I lack the gene to express such unbridled joy that must be exhibited in a playoff win. A loss on the other hand is where a true fan makes himself known. Sure, in a win you can smile and high five while you jump around and celebrate, but a loss is where your colors come out. A few years back the Horse lost to the Chargers and everyones favorite d-bag, Phillip Rivers. As the finally ticks went off the clock my mind began racing. How do I react? Do I drink to drown the pain or leave? Do I emote anger or sadness? What is my move here? I settled on the pitiful pursed lips, head shake to show disdain and consoling words of “Next year, man. Next year,” to my buddy who was pacing behind the couch. What I received back was something that is still hard to describe. The words left my mouth and his pacing slowed, his back still to me I stood there in awe of what I saw in his eyes. Tears that had begun to stream down his cheeks were as powerfully as Medusa’s eyes. I stood fully ensnared in his gaze with which he showed no embarrassment of being a grown man sobbing over a game.
This was the moment I realized it, I wake up on Sundays fully excited over the prospect of the upcoming game, hoping completely for a win and not worrying about anything else. But after the game, my life continues. I care in the moment but outside of it there is little importance on my real life. The opposite is what makes a man a true fan, the game is their life. Some little part inside of them lives and dies on every play and what happens in their real life around them doesn’t matter half as much as what plays out on the field.
This is what distinguishes us and this is what I am committed to working on in the upcoming season. I don’t make claims that I will be the next "Super Fan" nor do I mean to put myself in these elite levels of fandom.
All I can claim to do for the upcoming NFL season is to feel something that I started feeling draft night. The night that the Indianapolis Colts drafted Andrew Luck with the number one overall pick I felt myself care a little more than I have previously. Will the wins start piling up after drafting this kid, our savior? Without a doubt they probably won’t, at least not right away. But in my fan career where I have known nothing but winning with Peyton Manning leading the charge, losses hurt and wins seemed expected. Perhaps this is the core root of why I could never give in to the full experience of caring wholly for a team. When I really got into football, the Colts were already established. I never went through the tough years, suffering through losing seasons with no championship pedigree. Much like players who make it to a championship game and lose a few times before something clicks and they just must win above everything else, I never had that hunger.
Add in a Superbowl loss to the Saints where I did feel somewhat pulled back to reality and a horrendous 2-14 season. Add in Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano, Ryan Grigson and the rest of the makeover that was the Colts offseason and you end up with something that I can only call a small amount of added interest inside of me. The whole prospect of it all is at its core exciting. To me at least, wins are going to mean so much more if only because they aren’t expected. There are no expectations, all we as fans can do is grab onto this team and see where they take us. The will be many lows but after last season how low can we truly get so the highs are going to seem so much higher.
I don’t claim to being a so-called "Super Fan", but maybe, just maybe as this season progresses I can raise my stock. Perhaps in time I will be able to write an article describing the intricasies of an Andrew Luck touchdown throw that won a Superbowl for the Colts while I was heavily intoxicated with an ingenious plan for my bosses the next day and tears streaming down my cheeks.