How do we define fandom? Is it simply supporting a team, or does it run deeper than that? How do we choose which team to support? Is it hereditary, based on geography, or another option?
A major factor in sports fandom is geographic circumstances. If you are from Kansas, you probably support the Kansas City Chiefs simply because there is no other team nearby. It gives you the opportunity to support the team through attending games but also interacting with the community. If you live in a densely populated area like New York City or Los Angeles, then you run into the problem of having two teams available. Do you support the New York Jets or the New York Giants, the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers? How you choose is dependent on other factors. It may be up to organizational decisions, the historic success of the franchise, or even an individual player on the team. Geography, which often plays a massive part in choosing which team to support, is a perfectly valid and respectable reason to support a team.
While geography holds a lot of weight in choosing a team to support, often it is a decision based off of hereditary trends. If you grow up in a household that proudly represents one team, there is a high likelihood that you follow in your parents’ footsteps. It’s not uncommon to see a D.C. native supporting the Houston Astros or a Philadelphia resident rooting for the Seattle Sounders. The question then becomes how did your parents become fans of that team? Was it based on location and then they moved? Or maybe someone down the lineage had a dumb reason to support a team before it just became a tradition.
There are a few invalid reasons to supporting a team that need to be addressed. Dynasties and successful teams skew the amount of fans who support them. The New England Patriots and the Golden State Warriors draw a massive amount of attention because everyone wants their team to win, so why not pick the best? From this emerges the unhealthy trend of “bandwagon” fans, people who just support the popular and successful teams.
In a similar light, people will follow a specific player who has proven to be one of the best. A popular example is LeBron James. One of the best to ever play basketball, James has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers (in two separate stints), the Miami Heat, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Certain fans will support him and the teams he plays for, often because there is a certain level to which they will always perform at. These reasons are the least legitimate claims to fandom. To support a team simply because it’s successful will inspire rage in your peers and delegitimize your arguments when discussing sports.
The final category in sports fandom is being a fan of the sport itself. This is the purest reason of all. Win or lose, you are here to support good play, great players, and competition. No matter who you support, being a fan of the sport itself will win you respect from those around you.