Almost everyone has a sports team they follow. Whether it be football, baseball, basketball, hockey or something else, there is bound to be a team to which you feel a connection.
Chances are, when someone asks what your interests are, you are inclined to say what type of sports fan you are. It may even be in the bio of one, if not all, of your social media accounts.
Just like some people may call themselves gamers, others would call themselves football players. Your team is most likely an extension of who you are in a sense.
The sense of belonging must start in early adolescence. Personally, I was raised by a family who obsesses over all mainstream sports. Thanksgiving did not mean a big dinner with family; it meant stuffing ourselves as fast as we could, then going to the Thanksgiving night hockey game for the Erie Otters.
The beginning of the new year was not a time for resolutions. It was a time to see how many things we could deep fry in time for the Super Bowl.
Summer was not time off from work; it was time to go to baseball games. Interestingly enough, my family is not all that athletic. We were all in marching band and the only sport I did in high school was swimming.
However, it felt like we were part of this huge athletic community because we went to the games, engaged in the conversation, met people with the same interests and more.
In high school, you root for your varsity teams. In college, you support collegiate athletes. Sports are so largely admired that tailgating has become such a large social activity.
Chances are, you take pride in the region you live and therefore, support the teams and players from that region. It is how we grew up. That is, unless your family was a not fan of the local favorites.
In that case, you might have been seen as an outcast, but once in a blue moon when you see someone with a jersey or hat with your team’s name on it, you automatically feel like you have a connection with that person and that they are your friend.
It becomes a tricky concept when people see themselves as part of the team. When your favorite team loses a big game, it is no longer “the Steelers lost, what a bummer.” It is now “we” lost and because of that, you feel the effects as well. It becomes obsessive to refer to yourself as part of the team because you are such a big fan.
Like a musician, just because you follow their music closely does not mean you are personally close to them. The same goes for sports and sometimes that reactivity goes too far. This happened to me personally about a week ago when I was at work and someone who must have felt personally offended by the Chicago Blackhawks plate on my car decided to viciously rip it off.
This has made me upset and I know that although you may be mad that your team lost, keep in mind this season that your reactivity should not reach the point of aggression because then you are no longer a sports fan. You are just dishonorable.