I think there’s one thing we can all agree on: A live sporting event is just about the most frustrating thing you can spend money on that doesn’t require hand tools.
Fun too, sure. But also that other f word.
For one thing, there’s a 50/50 chance that you paid good money to watch your favorite team lose. In my case, it usually feels like those odds look more like 90/10 in favor of losing, but I’m sure everyone feels that way, expect for those awful people cursed with sunny dispositions that you run into on occasion.
Beyond the whole losing thing, there’s also the part of going to a game where you’re forced to interact with other fans. You’re all there because you share a common love of sport, but in most cases that’s the only overlap in your Venn Diagrams.
Other fans can be a giant pain.
My girlfriend and I made the trip to a live sporting even last week. Our team lost. Shocker. On the way home, she fell asleep in the car. Also, shocker.
While she was asleep, it gave me the chance to ponder fandom and in particular the ways people chose to pass the time when they’re locked in a stadium with 30,000 total strangers for a couple of hours.
So now, in my best Jerry Seinfeld (“What is the deal with sports fans?”), here are the most common types of fans you’ll encounter in stadiums:
- The Smart Guy: This is the guy (keep in mind I’m using guy in the most non-gender specific sense here) who knows what the hell he’s talking about. You see him at baseball games filling out the box score before the giant screen tells him what to put down.
- The Not-Smart-But-Doesn’t-Know-It Guy: This is the guy who thinks he knows everything, but after about five seconds, you realize he doesn’t have a clue. You see this guy at baseball games filling out the box score with happy and sad faces. He’s at least five times as loud as The Smart Guy and is prone to shouting “SHOOT!” at hockey games the second his team has possession of the puck, regardless of where this takes place on the ice. He can be seen wearing the jersey from China with the player’s name in the wrong font.
- The Comedian: He’s still screaming “Put Iverson in!” at 76ers games like he’s giving George Carlin a run for his money. This person has also been known to pick the most random player on the other team, e.g., an Endy Chavez type, and heck him into oblivion for literally no reason. This guy wears the homemade“69” jersey because it’s hilarious.
- The Wave Guy: This is the person who is completely and totally obsessed with starting the wave and keeping it going the whole game. They’ve shelled out big bucks for tickets for the sole purpose of getting everyone else in the arena to stand up slightly before or slightly after they do. Literally the only reason this person is allowed to be out on the streets is because the mental health system in this country is not great. In high school, The Wave Guy was voted Most Likely to Say “It puts the lotion in the basket” and be completely serious about it.
- Cheerleaders: Similar to The Wave Guy. Cheerleaders just want to start a chant. If they successfully get a “Let’s go team name” chant going they’re happy, but the second it’s over they will be right back at it. If their vocal cords aren’t scarred by the end of the game, Cheerleaders don’t feel like they got their money’s worth.
- Drunks: These folks have no idea that they’re at a sporting event. They simply assume that their local bar has raised its cover charge and prices to a ridiculously high level and allowed way more people in than usual. This is the only possible explanation for people who spend all that money to get in just for the right to pound $9 beers all night.
- Guy With an Ax to Grind: He’s only there to boo a player or players on the opposite team. This is often because of some perceived slight that took place exclusively within the confines of his mind.
- The Sporty Hipster, also known as The Troll: This person has an innate ability to instantaneously disagree with whatever the consensus opinion of the crowd is. For example: Crowd thinks something is a goal, without missing a beat, The Troll is convinced it was not in fact a goal. If something is called a penalty and the crowd is upset, he’s the guy who can be heard saying “Good call there, ref.” You can usually spot this fan because he’ll be wearing a jersey with what you assume is his own name on the back. However, if you go talk to him, The Troll will inform you that he’s actually wearing the jersey of a guy who played for your team for two weeks, about 18 years ago, who was massively, massively underrated.