Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Ethics of Fandom or The Art of Being a Fan...

In the past 24 hours I have had the opportunity to witness the atmospheric highs and deeply troubling lows of being a fan. Last night the Texas Rangers finished up a dominant display in the ALCS, defeating the Yankees at home in Arlington. It was one of the proudest moments of fandom of my life, watching a team I've followed since I was a kid take a another step it has never known. Then Josh Hamilton in the midst of celebration gives glory to Jesus and then proves it by praising his teammates rather than himself when awarded ALCS MVP. Then the team returned the love by celebrating with ginger ale rather than champagne in honor of their teammate. These guys seem to actually love each other. I am beyond stoked for the World Series.

Today however, I attended a University of Texas game at DKR. Texas was a three touchdown favorite as they set out to demolish the Iowa State Cyclones. Now, there is no question, the game was rough. UT offense, defense and special teams all struggled throughout all four quarters and honestly Iowa State played an incredible game. Needless to say, UT went down in a very disappointing defeat and a deep groan is felt throughout all of Austin, Texas today. Here's the thing that got me though. These kids don't get paid and yet a catastrophic amount of money is made on their backs. They're nineteen and twenty years old, and yet they're expected to act as grown men, when all around them actual grown men, with real jobs, life experience, wives and children; some twenty and thirty years older than these boys are screaming obscenities at people they loved just a week ago when they were beating the stuff out of another team of young men from Nebraska. I know one of the young men I was watching today. He was in my youth group when we first came to Austin, and because of that fact some things became very real for me today. Mostly, we have bought into a lie about what it means to be a fan and we all need to grown up.

Here's the deal. These people entertain us. They give us something we can't create or perform on our own. The least we could do is to be a real fan. Sure we follow teams for years, but often that's cowardly fandom, when we turn our backs on the actual team and remain loyal to the brand. Then you're just a fan of the good old days or some whimsy driven ideal. Sure teams go through good and bad years, but real fans root even when its difficult to. This doesn't mean that they're not disappointed or realistic, but you keep rooting for people if you're a fan. We all know this is bigger than sports. Friends, may we end our days of objectifying people as one characteristic, talent, performance or flaw. We are all certainly more and may we treat each others as such.

The question: "Even when you feel disappointed or dismayed at the outcome or performance, can you still root for someone or a team?"
Be a fan.

Live Love.