Sports Fans

Me in my Ravens shirt. October 21, 2012.

Me in my Ravens shirt. October 21, 2012.

There must be a little gene or chemical that makes it possible for people to become rabid about sports teams for which they have never played.

I'm missing that. Or it's broken. (After all, I struggle with teambuilding as well.)

Why do people care so deeply about something in which they've never had part?

Yes, games are more fun to watch when you've picked a side. Recently, I went to a Ravens-Texans game and wore a Ravens shirt. Am I a Ravens fan? Not really. But I lived in Baltimore when the franchise arrived and, let's be honest, I'd always have a soft spot for a team named in honor of a writer. (Edgar Allan Poe, the author of "The Raven" and other poems and stories, lived and was buried in Baltimore.)

However, when the Ravens lost badly, by no means did it ruin my day.

Also, I get that, in some bizarre transference, team fandom is shorthand for who you are or who you'd like to be. College-sports fans feel a team represents their school or the one they wish they'd attended. Soccer fans love the country or area from which the team hails because they live there or, if they don't and never have, because they feel the area or its brand is in keeping with their carefully curated personae.

Whatever the case, most fans have never played for the teams they fanatically love. There's no actual connection.

All in good fun? I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade. I understand yet don't experience fandom, but if it makes a person happy, they're welcome to it. My issue is that people take fanatical team love to an unhealthy level.

A team losing a game ruins the days and even weeks of many people. A 2003 article in the journal Sports Medicine and recounted on Yahoo! by Christine Cadena stated that "expressing sadness through anger, crying, and even disinterest in activities is quite common in the day or two after the sporting event."

Abroad moreso than here, people engage in raging fights when teams lose--and even sometimes when they win. Called "football hooliganism" in England, fans vandalize, beat, and brutalize, and they've even killed fans of opposing teams.

This is insanity.

Yet my incredulousness about fandom isn't the norm. Are you a rabid fan? Of what? Why?