If someone tells me they only go to see Weezer in concert when they come to Minneapolis and don’t follow them around the country, I’m not mad at them. I think they’re normal.
If while reading “The Bell Jar” a friend keeps talking about the sadness of Sylvia Plath’s demise and then when she’s done, she stops talking about ovens and children and anti-depresssants or whatever, I don’t consider her fair-weathered in her literary fandom.
So why is there a difference with sports? Why, when I openly admit to people that I don’t follow the Vikings or Twins if they’re losing, is my moral character openly assassinated?
First, I will explain my logic: the fun of following pro sports = the potential for winning + drinking.
If any of the additives decrease, the chances of me enjoying following pro sports dramatically decreases. If I want to “enjoy” the game (i.e. watch muscular movement of physically-elite males in competitive actions/yell at the referees), I will go to an actual live game, probably high school, and do it like once or twice a season because I’m not an insane person/55-years-old, wearing a jersey under my work shirt.
Case in point: if the Minnesota Timberwolves would win over half their games next year, I would pay attention. I don’t care if they’re losing. Only if they’re winning. It doesn’t make sense. The Timberwolves have come into my consciousness in the last 5 years only twice: 1) when they traded Kevin Garnett and 2) yesterday when my brother told me Kevin Love is actually Mike Love’s (Beach Boys) nephew. In theory that means the starting power forward for the T-Wolves is related to the guy who wrote the chorus to “Good Vibrations” and that’s fucking heroic no matter what your win-loss record is.
Now, to answer the above question, I think the biggest difference between sports and other endeavors where “fair-weather” mythology is openly accepted (and in fact anything else would just be weird and obnoxious) is that sports fans are generally solipsistic individuals. Let me explain because I can hear you gnashing.
Most fans of classical music recognize that they may have a few fringers, but they’re completely understanding of people who don’t get/like classical music. Same goes with most people I know who listen to death metal, actually. Even most bookish snobs will openly acknowledge they don’t know the first thing going on in Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake” and there’s really no point in reading it unless you’re in grad school or suicidal. These are rationale people.
But many sports fans (or at least the ones who yell at people on Facebook for “jumping on the bandwagon”) are usually rabidly warped in the way they see their interests to the main interests of the world. They believe that what is big in their individual life is also big in the life of human kind, duh?
That’s why we sing the national anthem, that’s why we have half-time shows, that’s why commercials are elevated to the level of high-entertainment. Sports fanatics must have the world chewed up, spit back into sport-approved modes and delivered to them in a sippy cup called ESPN so they won’t be offended. Sports are their filter on life.
Therefore when one’s actions (i.e. NOT listening to all three hours of the Twins radio broadcast on a Tuesday night) conflict or run counter to the sport’s fan’s interest, he or she will immediately start peddling out tired, idiotic accusations (fair-weather, bandwagon, “where’s your heart?”).
That said, I do get pissed at people who say they like “Hallelujah” and insist that Rufus Wainwright wrote it or who say they only listen to music when they’re in their car. But, whatever, I only listen to Jim Rome when I’m in my car, too.
- by Dunstan McGill