Posts Tagged ‘fandom’

Premature Exit

6 May 2010

Dear J-

Well, if you want a post-mortem, that may have to wait until later tonight, but the hockey season appears to be nearly done for the Red Wings (with my Chiefs bowing out of the first round of the WHL playoffs), down 0-3 to the Sharks. These deficits have been overcome before, but I’m not holding my breath — I’ve been coming to terms with it ever sincce I read the score on Wednesday morning. I’m not going to espouse the tinfoil hat-theories like fellow fans (but I suppose it’s oddly appropriate for Sharks to dive; having playoff games decided in press conferences is despicable but necessary in today’s NHL), but I will say this: these are tired folks — they’ve played as many games as anyone the past two seasons (the Penguins being the other) and as everyone is so fond of saying, they are an old team.

Even though Chris Chelios finally retired after 452 years in the NHL (what, you never saw him play defense against “Rocket” Richard?) that’s only dropped the average age by a fraction; Nicklas Lidstrom, who I remember as a fresh-faced rookie, just turned forty. Yes, the old jokes never get old (“Your team’s so old, they decided to make the colors red and grey”), so let’s think up a few more to throw around as excuses. Yet there’s truth in the adage that age is just a number: attitude dictates ability, and I’m not seeing the same desire out there on the ice. Penguins, yes. Wings, no. Same number of games, different results.

I work with another fan, and in comparing notes, I admitted that I’m almost looking forward to seeing them knocked out; she had told me what a great match Game 7 Habs-Caps turned out to be, helped by her just watching without worry. I suspect that’s why I’m looking forward to the World Cup later this summer — with no real dog in the fight, it’s instructive to watch the spectacle and contest without having an inherent bias. I know how that sounds — “man I wish they weren’t playing four single-elimination games” — but each of those four games would be ones I couldn’t stand to watch anyway; I want to get back to enjoying the sport.



Fan Meet

2 December 2009

Dear J-

Two fans meet and establish their bona-fides, whether it be by flashing home-made IDs proving membership in some obscure club, showing off expensive or high-effort hand-crafted artifacts (here, think of folks who used the patterns out of the Star Fleet Technical Manual to sew uniforms), or swapping esoteric trivia (Harcourt Fenton Mudd!  HA!) with no real application.  Here I’m picking on my poor peer Trek fans, but the scene repeats itself amongst every group you could care to think of, whether sports fans wearing jerseys and spouting career statistics like some sort of dementd athletic actuary, or numismatists peering through the change they just received.

Fans are a tricky  base to please; when we’ve invested sufficient personal time (if not money) in following something, we feel an unearned sense of entitlement and ownership:  surely, I think, because I’ve spent the last twenty years following the space program in gory detail, surely I have the greatest ideas and I don’t understand why my thoughts get sidelined.  Or it’s used to whip up rivalries and feuds where none would naturally exist (here I’m thinking of the big rivalry college football games that have taken place the last couple of weeks, fans taunting each other for feats they didn’t accomplish.  For our efforts, we’re rewarded with misplaced pride and fruitless accomplishment.

Oh, that comes off bitter; the danger is in the nationalism that seems a natural extension of fandom — not the oddly amazing yet relatively benign Sports Franchise Nations whose main offense is to recast your team logo and colors in pinks and other pastels, but the fervent my-country-is-infalliable that pollutes our political discussions and makes it impossible to disagree without being branded unpatriotic.  Yet the same people who have no trouble leaving the Spock ears at home can’t seem to separate unquestioning allegiance from every day life.