There are regular, garden variety people who happen to like football. Then you have fans — these folks look quite a bit like the first category, except they yell a bit more while watching a game and might have their team’s jersey hanging up in a closet somewhere.
Then you have “true football fans.” Now these people are a different breed. When you get down to the gritty truth, football isn’t just a game for a true fan. Nor is the true fan’s team merely an assortment of athletes they’d prefer to win, all things being equal.
Because the true fan lives up to the true, enlarged meaning of the word “fan.” They’re fanatics. Every fibre of the true fan’s being yearns for the sweet moment of their team’s victory over their worthy (but vastly inferior) foe. But how do you know if you belong to this rarefied class of sporting enthusiast? Here are five surefire tells.
- Niche Commentary
When you are deeply and passionately drawn to something, you can’t get enough of it. You crave a constant nourishing stream of facts, statistics and opinion. This isn’t merely sport we’re talking about here. If you’ve ever been tempted to start a popular blog of your own, chances are you did it because you care about your subject matter a little more than a normal person might!
The true sports fan is likely to subscribe to one or more podcasts, blogs or other social media channels in which people speak in deep, passionate detail about every aspect of their team’s past, present and future. If your browser favorites and podcast subscriptions are filled with niche football ephemera, you may well be a true football fan.
- Dreams Never Lie
The true measure of a person’s deepest passion can be found in where their mind flits of its own accord.
Let’s say you’ve grabbed an Uber out to the airport. You have twenty minutes of blissful solitude as you sit and gaze at the suburban streets flashing by. What are you thinking about at this moment? Are you picturing your loved ones? Are you dwelling on how you might, in your own small way, make this world a better and brighter place?
Or is it football? You were scoring that winning touchdown, weren’t you? Be honest. We’re all friends here. If it was, congratulations. You’re a true football fan.
- The Memory Challenge
This is a quick and easy one, but it’s a surprisingly universal tell. Grab a slip of paper and write down a few important numbers — pin numbers, social, bank account information, that kind of stuff. Don’t show anyone! You can eat the paper when you’re done.
Now, here’s the all important question: as you were recalling those numbers, did you use player jersey numbers to help jog your memory? If so, well… you know the drill by now.
- The Smartphone Revelation
In times of yore (and the immediate post yore era), people kept scrapbooks and secret journals, usually hidden away beneath a squeaky floorboard in the bedroom. These forbidden tomes were dangerous, for they laid bare all its owners awkward truths, obsessions and heart breaks.
The chances are, if you’re a true fan, the smartphone tucked away in your back pocket is a modern day equivalent.
What does your smartphone wallpaper tell you? Might it be your team colors or favorite player by any chance? If someone scrolled through your photos right now, would they find endless snapshots you took of the game… while you were watching… on television? Do you have a special folder where you keep all your favorite team interviews and articles bookmarked for a rainy day when you just have an acute case of the Monday morning blahs?
If so, you’ve undeniably sipped of the devil’s cup of true, undying fandom.
- That Guilty Little Secret
And now we’ve hit the moment of ultimate truth. It’s time to ask yourself an uncomfortable question. Do you have a guilty little secret? Is there some little quirk about how you watch football you haven’t dared breathe to a living soul?
Do you have special underpants that magically make your team win when you put them on back to front? Is it important that you eat your nachos with your left hand and blow on your beer three times when the game is on? If you scratch your nose on the right side, do you need to make sure you even it out on the left side too — you know — to make sure your team’s juju stays strong and pure?
You don’t have to answer out loud. You can just nod if that makes it easier. Superstitions like these are the hallmarks of the obsessed mind of the truly ardent fan. And even though you may prefer to keep these football superstitions secret, rest assured you’re far from the only one! Just don’t go offering a goat sacrifice to appease the football gods and you’ll probably be fine.
Somewhere in our weirdly complex human DNA there must be a gene that decides how fanatical a person will become. Those unusually blessed with the fanatic gene are on a fast track to becoming a true football fan. All it takes is one little nudge and their transformative journey will have begun. May the football gods bless you, you crazy true believers. You make life that little bit more interesting.