There are all of these existential questions to be asked when you’re a fan of a football team.
“What does it mean to be a fan, a real fan?”, “how can I show my love for the team in the best way?” and “why am I doing this?” as your team loses yet again (at least for Tottenham fans).
To be a fan is a very abstract thing, although it may seem quite concrete. You cheer for this club with these colours, you are never ever (ever!) allowed to change your mind about that and you need to be dedicated in some way and … that’s about it. But it’s also not – as most people who actually are fans would disagree with this very simple description of fandom that is so easy to apply, especially to football fans. As football fans, we are often judged on a very wide scale, as there are quite a few of us out there. If nothing special happens in the footballing world and people behave (which is rare), it is easy to go under the radar, but as soon as shit hits the fan anywhere, football fans everywhere tend to get hit by the blow. It’s going to be interesting to see how it will go down in Russia next summer, as the World Cup 2018 is approaching quickly. But it is easy to just take a step back to the last big tournament in Europe for men, the Euros 2016 in France, where some English fans did not really know how to behave. Note here that I only said the last big tournament in Europe for men, because as I’m well aware there was a Euros for the women this summer in the Netherlands, but I don’t really think that the fans attending that tournament should be associated with the ones attending the France Euros, and we’ll talk more about these differences soon.
There are many different kinds of fans, and it is nearly impossible to try and pin them all down here. As there are lone grains of sand on the beach, each fan on the stands or behind the screen watching the game are individuals and should therefore not be bundled together and divided into different labeled subdivisions. But it happens, and one of the strongest and most present subdivisions is “the real fan”.
This one is a real bastard, I’m telling you. I think one of the most telling examples of how you determine a real fan, is to explain its antonym – the bandwagon fan. It is an expression for a fan that is deemed not worthy. It is a fan that simply jumps on the wagon of a team, and these are more times than not the team that happens to be the best in their respective league and/or in Europe in general, making it an ‘easy ride’ for the fan in question to support. This means that the real fan has to be anything but that. A real fan has to have endured the hard times, stood by the team through thick and thin and should really be a person that goes to the home games (bonus points for the away games!) often. Season ticket holder? Even better. A real fan knows the songs of the terrace, knows the history of the club and also of the players, and is able to answer questions about anything regarding the club, as well as offering their own opinions on the matter. Furthermore, it is expected of a real fan to bear at least some sort of token of love for the club, this can be a football shirt, a scarf or a tattoo of the club emblem for example. Oh, and I almost forgot one of the most important things – you ought to have a penis.
For the people not fitting in to this very narrow template of what it’s like cheering for a football club, for those of us who are not even able to check almost any of those boxes, it can be hard sometimes. The feeling of not being “right” or “real” is uncomfortable and if you do not have much of a safety net in terms of like minded people around you, it can be tough to always have to stand up for yourself. But then now and again you meet really great people that do not care about being “right” either, and you end up just having a really good time watching the game we all love.
What do you think? Have you, like me, ever felt inadequate as a football fan, or do you have an entirely different view on the matter?
Please hit me up in the comment section below!