Photo by Stuart Meney
Photo by Stuart Meney

Meditations on Being a Fan

1. Sitting in your seat at a ballgame, or a league game, or day 1 of the test – it’s all the same. The sport changes, but that’s all that changes.

2. Some concentrate exclusively on the field action. These are the fanalysts – the sports trainspotters for whom each line break is key, each attempted field goal.

3. Many don’t though. There are those of us who will watch the line break, but then watch the guy two rows in front react to it; we’ll watch the scoreboard during kiss cam, or we’ll be at the bar ordering beers, craning our heads to see what we can on the screens above it.

4. We’re sitting on the hill, or stretching in the middle of the 7th. We’re participating in rituals. We’re honouring tradition. We’re meeting at the pub then walking to the ground. People did it before, people who loved the sports we love, and we know that, and that’s partly why we do it.

5. We set up email threads with titles like “Fuck I hate Brook Lopez.” We don’t really hate him; but we do.

6. It’s important to at least work through the rudimentary conversation around hypotheses that include “Lebron James would be good at Australian Football”. We’re not here to get pointy-headed on the reality of it. But we’ve got to at least assert that he would be, because as sports fans it’s interesting to transact greatness like that. Would Lionel Messi have been a great point guard? The conversation should only be rudimentary, but the possibilities are infinite.

7. We understand every platitude about why sports is a metaphor for life; about why it appeals to our primal urges; about how it bridges, how it educates, how it connects. Maybe, yeah. It’s still just sport.

8. We understand every argument about why sports is stupid. But it’s not.

9. Narratives in sports have primacy: exploring what it’s like to witness a thumping of Arsenal in a North London pub is more interesting than assessing whether the loss was significant; to hear about an afternoon of KB tinnies on the hill at Henson Park trumps an analysis of whether Souths will repeat in 2015; marinating on the muted greatness of Johan Cruyff trumps addressing the Kobe-Jordan conversation for the umpteenth time. In sports, stories matter most.

10. Welcome to New Albion.


Alex Vitlin is an editor at New Albion.