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A 'Proper' Fan
Markodon (NK Dinamo Zagreb) 3 years ago
Some really great comments here, I've truly enjoyed reading this thread. Especially insightful was a discussion started by Epictetus. We've seen that football fans are very diverse and have their own unique reasons for sticking with a team. I think it's almost pointless to debate on what makes a "proper fan" because it is such a subjective concept.
Perhaps we can make a distinction between a "fan" and a "supporter", although the two terms are usually interchangable. But in my case, I usually refer to supporters when I'm talking about the fans physicially present at the stadium and a fan is a more general term for people who hold that particular club in their hearts (or perhaps just love them for their current style, as someone mentioned).
The subject of the OP's post would have made more sense back in the days when football wasn't globalized to such a large extent. The fact that you have people who are fans of teams from other continent simply diminishes the importance of regularly going to the stadium to prove yourself as a "proper" fan. Of course, money is also an issue as live football is fast becoming an entertainment for the rich
AdnanMessi (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Going to Camp Nou next year, I don't care for what game or when, I want to see my boys play. Only game I was ever at was Schalke vs Bochum in Gelsenkirchen, when I was 4 because I lived in Bochum. We had no money to go Spain because me and my dad have been Barca fans for life! But I am extremely excited for my trip to Camp Nou, would be an orgasmic experience that I can share stories with to my kids and family and friends! Living in Europe would make my life so much better
Epictetus (Barcelona) 3 years ago
A thousand apologies. I am technologically inept it seems. Instead of replying to the specific post that I want, I instead, accidentally, make a new post.

There really should be a delete feature for users like me.
Donnchadh (Liverpool) 3 years ago
Tried to post this last night, intertrons was being stubborn though Guess I was lucky I copied it before it crashed so I didn't have to write it again

Very nice bit of writing man, great article. And I essentially agree with all that you say I live in Arizona a long long ways away from Anfield but I have supported Liverpool for as long as I can remember and I love the club, will till I die. I hope one day I can make it to Anfield with my brothers and sing so much I don't have a voice the next day. It's what every fan dreams of. But you don't have to be at the match to get behind your club. I remember last spring and summer I would just sing YNWA downtown even if there was no match, just to sing that beautiful song. Probably wasn't sober but c'est la vie And watching the game can be quite the experience on television even if it may be very different(and maybe not approaching) actually being there. I took the name off of my Torres jersey when he was traded, but still have the jersey it's just a very rare Andy Carroll jersey with a Carslberg sponsor and no name on it, just the number nine I love Liverpool with all my heart, the highs and lows it's all good to me because the highs are that much higher Istanbul still makes me cry tears of joy sometimes. I hope to get to Anfield before Stevie hangs up his hallow boots

The first game I went to was in LA with my pops when I was 18. The LA Galaxy vs the Columbus Crew. Great match ended in a three three draw but I don't remember that much about the match. Edson Buddle I remember seeing him, never having heard of him before and thinking that guy is good, he's quick. But that's all that really sticks out to me. Than a year later we went to LA vs Barcelona in August and I remember a lot about that game. This time my mom, dad, younger brother and older brother but not my oldest brother were there as well. It was absolutely amazing, Barcelona is a great club and I love to watch them play but the crowd was something else. There were 93000 people in the rose bowl stadium. I was juggling and kicking a ball about with some other family who had some cute daughters and hooked me up with a few beers so that was awesome. We were sitting(I don't think I actually sat basically the whole game) at the end with mainly Barca supporters and it was just so much fun. Iniesta was injured and didn't play but he warmed up on the field by himself just dribbling the ball about. I also remember Messi and Dani Alves warming up playing 30 yard passes on the volley without letting the ball hit the ground and everyone yelling at Messi. Barca won 2-1, I helped start an ole chant for Barca's passing within the first minute of the match and it was an experience. Beckham hit a peach of a free kick too(Juninho's still the best free kick taker to ever walk the earth).

And I think on the 27th of January? I would have to check the date we will be going down the 200 miles of highway to Phoenix to watch the ooooo SS AAA! I am super excited for that day, what a great day it will be They play Venezuela, it will be the first time I will ever see my country play live. But I have been through some wonderful times with that team on the television. Donovan vs Algeria 90th+ = classic went nuts that day, great historic day for American sports. Some guy had come up to the house I was watching that match and told us to be quiet because we had been yelling and screaming at 7 in the morning ever since the World Cup started. We said whatever and he left. When he scored that goal I think there was about 8 or 9 of us and it sounded like a jet engine, I made sure to open the door so that guy and everyone else could hear us But like you say it is different, and I am liking forward to that match with eager anticipation.
Markodon (NK Dinamo Zagreb) 3 years ago
Nice post. It's great you're gonna' watch your country live, there is nothing like it, a truly special feeling. Although there is a pretty big difference between a friendly and a competative match.... But still, it's great
Epictetus (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Er, I need to stop re-posting
Zhudayong (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Haha
Epictetus (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Interesting read.

However, I think for all its anecdotes and analogies, it lacks depth. Allow me to explain.

It is often the case that the son inherits the team of his father. This was certainly how I came to pledge my allegiance to the Blaugrana. Essentially, the old man did not give me much of a choice; I was predisposed--well before birth--to follow in his footsteps in supporting the Catalans. That said, the day of my inception as a ‘fan’ was not until I attended my first live game. I still remember it vividly: it was my first time at the Camp Nou in 1985, and I was nervous as heck. I had never seen so many people in one place before. We had attended local football matches before, but nothing like this. My father had taken my sister and I with him in the anticipation that we were finally going to witness, first hand, the beauty that was, Spanish football--and witness it we did. The atmosphere inside the stadium was both frightening and wondrous at the same time. And I suppose, had I been aware of it at that time, I would have expected such a reception; considering that the match would also be my first El Clasico. And whilst, my memory does not serve me well, at this very moment, to recall who scored that magnificent first goal for us, within, I think, the opening minute of the game; the adrenaline that entered my body in that moment, however, is something I will never forget. That was the moment I became a fan. It was amongst the screams and the confusion that it all suddenly made sense. My fear was replaced by an unyielding appetite for more: more goals, more screaming, more celebrations. Though, come to think of it; maybe it wasn’t exactly as poetic as I’d like to remember. Be that as it may, I wouldn’t want to remember it any other way. Because, whether the intensity is accurately portrayed by my memory, is not as important to me as the education I received from my father when the game finished.

As you would expect, I walked out of the Camp Nou a different person than the one who walked in. I was ready to defend my team and its players against any criticism! Specially, and particularly, the number 10 with-the-cool-looking-hair: Steve Archibald. I had no idea who he was before the match, but I instantly fell in love with him and felt as though I was intellectually and physically prepared to defend his honour at any cost. To this end, on our way back home, the time did in fact come for me to defend The Scott and his team against a very blunt and mean aggressor: my father.

As I rambled on about how awesome our team played and how crummy our opponents played, while the guy with-the-cool-looking-hair made all of them look silly; my father had just about enough. Who played awesome? Be specific. Which players? What are their names? Their background? Their position? What factors contributed to our win? Was it their choice of formation? Was it ours? In way did our formation give us the advantage? What is the relation between a player’s jersey number and their respective position on the field? Why did the coach make that specific substitution? In a few words, I was put in my place. The lesson was simple: a fan is not a vocal expert on football by virtue of merely being a fan. A true fan understands the complexities of football and embraces and studies them. A true fan is impartial in his view of the beautiful game. A true fan does not bestow praise or blame unless it is followed by coherent and sound reasoning. A true fan of football cannot appreciate the vastness and intricacy of football if he or she limits themselves only to the club which they swore loyalty to. And perhaps most importantly, a true fan of the beautiful game places his loyalty for his club, below his loyalty for good, pure and beautiful football--regardless of the players involved. And there is a further lesson implicit in this line of thought that is equally as important: namely, that a true fan must always show humility and respect towards his rivals--even if every fiber in your body yearns for them to go down crashing in flames. In a word: to complete against a team does not entail that you relinquish your ability to impartially and critically asses that team; nor does it entail that you disrespect your opponents simply because they are your opponents. The root word for competition comes from the Latin word ‘competere’ which roughly translated means ‘to go together. ’ Going together: getting stronger as a result of your opponent getting stronger, and vice versa. A true football fan understands this--and that is what I have learned from my father.

So to turn the inquiry on its head: I do not think it is of any importance whether you attend or do not attend a live football match of the team you support. In fact, I find the entire project to be tedious and essentially meaningless. I think we should shift the focus towards promoting the idea of a ‘true’ or ‘proper’ fan as sharing some of the qualities above. At this point, and in the fear of sounding egoistic in my resolution; I should point out that I am by no means a true football fan in the way my father was. I think my father has, correctly, taught me to examine the attributes of a true fan; and while I certainly lack in some areas; I am satisfied to say that at best, I aspire to be one.
Matt (Footytube Staff) 3 years ago
I feel you are blurring the lines a bit in your very well written reply.

The overriding discussion here is what makes a fan and what qualifies someone to stand up and say 'I am a fan of Southampton' or whatever team you chose to follow.

The ability to appreciate and be objective about football is another subject altogether. For example I watched the recent 'El Classico' (how many will there be this year?) and although I marveled at the level of skill and the reactions to tackles I was left emotionally unmoved. There are only two teams capable of eliciting an emotional response from me and that is Southampton and England.

In my humble opinion that is what makes you a fan. Not the latest shirt, not the season ticket or the 400 programs but the capacity to truly care for your team. That's not to say I am blinkered when they lose (I have had plenty of practice) if we have played poorly then I say we have and I will be disappointed, I will feel let down and a bit sad. Something I will not feel when Man Utd lose after playing poorly.

This weekend is the proper 'El Classico' between Portsmouth and Southampton if you want to see true fans look at the away fans there, brave souls that they are
Alfrodo (Barcelona) 3 years ago
I agree with your opinion that footy fans should be fans of the beautiful game first and foremost.

Some say that you pledge your allegiance to a club and no matter what the club does or what trials they are going through, you stay faithful to them. I respect that kind of loyalty and support it as long as the club deserves that unquestioning loyalty. I am not from Europe and do not fully understand how one chooses a club to support (is it merely geography or personal preference or convenience?).

In my case, I was exposed to a variety of different clubs, playing styles, and philosophies over the years and being an American I sort of had the liberty to choose who I would follow and support. The benefit to this is that I was not limited to who my father or brother support (United) nor was geography a deciding factor. So after watching dozens of english, italian, america, and spanish teams, I wasn't impressed until I witnessed Barcelona's shorter-than-average players with sublime touch and preference for keeping the ball on the ground that I fell in love with a football club. I have supported them vigorously since discovering them in 2008, watching almost every single match despite work schedule, finals week, etc.

However, I do not claim that I will support FC Barcelona no matter what. For me, they have to consistently prove to me that they are maintaining the same philosophy, or evolving it, in order for my continued support. The day they relinquish beautiful football is the day I cease to support them. I'm not saying that if they start to struggle and are not successful in terms of hardware I will renounce them. I'm talking about playing style, not accomplishments. Nevertheless some might argue that is bandwagoning. I disagree entirely. If clubs don't deserve your loyalty (corruption, dirty play, going against their philosophy, poor reciprocity, etc.), why give it to them? If they are being faithful and true to you, they deserve your commitment. If they are not, why should you be?
Araz (Queens Park Rangers) 3 years ago
Haha, the real "el classico" Southampton vs. Portsmouth, dream on son. Though I do agree with you on one thing, I watched the spanish el classico like the other 500m people around the world and far be it from an emotional response I actually fell asleep between 20 minutes and 70 minutes, waking up to realise my bet on a Barca win was going to come through. Result!
Epictetus (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Your point is well taken, Matt. But perhaps I phrased myself poorly; allow me to qualify.

I think if you ask a hundred people to define what they consider to be hallmark characteristics of a 'proper fan;' you are likely to receive a hundred different answers. It is through the granting of this presupposition that I ground my previous post on. Specifically, I don't find it particularly interesting to debate what it means to be a fan of a certain team. Namely, because the amount of support one gives to his or her club happens in degrees. For instance, things like attending live matches, buying team merchandise or donating funds to the club, demonstrate lower and higher degrees of dedication that is entirely circumstantial to various different factors--of most importance, being your financial situation and your geographical proximity to your team. In other words, it is very difficult to label someone a true(er) fan of a certain team, as opposed to a so-called lesser fan whose circumstances do not allow him or her to, for instance, watch every game or buy team merchandise.

It is for this reason that I would like to shift the focus towards examining what it means to be a true football fan in general; as opposed to getting caught up in rhetoric and personal definitions. This is also useful in the way that we can reasonably establish some basic tenants that most of would consent to.

Alfrodo, I'm inclined to agree with you, specifically regarding your last paragraph. I think your distinction between bandwagoning and the element of reciprocity in the fan-team relation, is an interesting one that I'd enjoy reading more about
Zhudayong (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Alf, I must give it to you because sometimes I wonder what is it with people and their ideas regarding Loyalty. I mean sure, one could love a team with all his/her heart and feel all the types of emotions there is to feel (like Matt said for instance). But I think 'Merit' is one of the most important factors as to how faithful and how much one would love a team. And once that merit is broken, one's loyalty shouldn't be questioned if he/she chose to move on. In the most simplistic way, I would ask ''why would I stick around if you've stopped representing the values that, once, led me into loving you? '' as I can't pretend to be disloyal to myself in order to be loyal to something that isn't anymore.

That said, I know 'Patience' should be taken into account as well because it's not a fact that -- let's say -- ''Barca'' would always stick to their present philosophy. And in case things were to change, it would be important to think about ''Patience'' and, perhaps, give it some time to see how things goes while, of course, reminding ourselves daily of the reasons why we became fans in the 1st place (the merit the club achieved for doing things the way you like).

I'd like to add that Epictetus is definitely onto something by reminding everyone that this question can't be approached as an exact science where it's either A or be. There's one too many factors to be taken into account as stories aren't the same. More so, how could we even begin to quantify one's Love and Loyalty towards a Club when it comes to me as a fact that it's not because one has watched Barca live more times than I have that makes him a 'proper' Cules than I am. And am completely delighted that Epictetus had a go at the understanding of the game as I believe it's essential not to only love your Club but understand its philosophy and what it stands for as well. Than to have someone running around calling himself a ''Cules'' because he lives in Barcelona and has been able to attend so many games with his folks and so on
Alfrodo (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Zhud you have way of explaining what I mean in such a clear manner. Thank you

Epic,
"Boom ball, " as it is called in the states, was what I grew up playing. It consisted of long balls to the corners and then long crosses in. It was ineffective and I started to lose faith in footy because of it. I preferred quick passing, through balls, and tiki-taka style play, but americans over the years have tended to rely on long balls and brute force.

I embraced Barca because their style was in alignment with my perceived ideal footy. They keep the ball on the ground, pass around a lot, and don't rely on aggression or brute force to win matches like many teams. I love the club for sticking with its philosophy of playing it on the ground despite going down a goal in the first 30 seconds of el clasico.

Barca has given me great joy over the years for their simple, elegant moves, their efficient goal-scoring ability, their tactical innovation, their teamwork, their workrate, etc. Nevertheless, the day they renounce total football and revert to long balls, antifootball, etc. (despite fervent fan opposition), is the day they lose my support. I might still follow them occasionally but it I wouldn't be a die-hard, watch-every-match fan any longer.

Perhaps I am one of few fans that have this philosophy but I truly believe that the relationship between a club and its supporters should be symbiotic and not parasitic. And by renouncing support of a club when they no longer deserve it, I believe, will only help them realize they made a mistake and are losing support as a result. If a club gets undying support no matter what direction it goes in, how will it know it is heading in the right direction? That's where a true fan comes in and takes a stand
Epictetus (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Well said, Zhudayong & Alfrodo.

Though, I'm in need of some clarification: what do you mean when you say that a 'relationship between a club and its supporters should be symbiotic and not parasitic? ' Do you mean to say that the a preferred relationship is one that is mutually symbiotic? Because if I recall correctly, parasitism is just another type of symbiotic interaction. Curious, yet, very interesting choice of words. I like it.

In any event, I agree with both of your inputs. Particularly, I think it is quite wise to recognize the importance of exercising patience in a relationship as, Zhudayong, has correctly pointed out. After all, any healthy relationship, be it between a father and son, or a romantic one between two partners; requires us to use discretion in exercising patience with the other person. And in the case of football, the fan-team relation should not be an exception.

However, it would be silly (I hope) to suggest that a father is obligated to be patient with his son to the same degree that is obligation is true of his club; and vice versa. To this end, your concluding words and the question you propose are spot-on Alfrod: if children can benefit from a reality check from time to time; then certainly; so can our football clubs benefit as well
Araz (Queens Park Rangers) 3 years ago
There's a lot of room for debate here, but I do believe there are some concrete rules to being a supporter of a club, I won't go through all of them here, but these are the key ones:

1. Once you've selected your team and pulled on a shirt for the first time you can not under any circumstance or for any reason alter, reselect, un-support or otherwise change or abandon your team in any way shape or form. Stopping support of your selected team is an act of cowardice, choosing a different team makes you a traitor, the club you think you support does not need people like you, off with your head!

2. You cannot support more than one club. Ever. Many football supporters have soft spots for more than one team, especially if the team they supported is a local side with no hope of ever reaching a serious level of competition with in their life time, in this case the man supports his local team but has a passionate stake in a top flight team, this is allowed, but by no means can you "support" more than one club. If you think this is possible you do not understand the nature of rivalry with in football.

3. Unless you've found yourself saying words close the to following inside your head or out loud in a room or other building surrounded by other men whilst the final moments of a big game are ticking away you have not matured to the final levels of true supporter-ism, you are not discredited but you may not be a real supporter yet

"Dear lord, I know we don't speak often, and I rarely pay you a visit, I'm sorry for that, I really really am, and as selfish it is for me to ask this of you out of the blue, I have no choice and I put my faith in you. You may take an arm, a leg, any limb or even a distant relative if you would just be so kind as give a goal before the whistle goes. I promise I'll be a better man, I'll donate to charity and I'll worship you and spread your good word across the world, if only you could just send us a goal".

This is especially beneficial to your claim as a supporter if you are otherwise totally non-religious
Borg (Manchester United) 3 years ago
I lol'd at your last point because I've definitely done it in "the-moment" around 87th minute even though I'm not religious at all. Then afterward I realized I had totally reversed my dislike of religion just for a moment because I love my team that much, that's deep
Araz (Queens Park Rangers) 3 years ago
It truly is.

My moment came in the England vs. Portugal game at Euro 2004, 2-1 to Portugal with 114 minutes gone. Funnily enough just 20 seconds later the lord answered my prayers and Lampard got the equaliser, but he also taught me a lesson not to waste his time with such trivial matters, we all know what happened in the penalty shoot out that followed
Thirsgaard (West Ham United) 3 years ago
A very well-written article. As a West Ham supporter I know the feeling of becoming "a real fan" when you enter the stadium for the first time. But I agree with you, I was a West Ham supporter of all my heart even before I went to see my first match.
I still think that there are many people claiming to be fans and really aren't - and even though it's got nothing to do with me - I'm still a bit annoyed by those. Like the people on footytube that are fans of 20 teams and sometimes even rivals. Doesn't work in my oppinion.
Living in Denmark it's also very hard for me to attend West Ham's matches, but just like you and a lot of you other guys, I watch the game on my computer and feel just as much a fan - and that's how it should be! But I try to attend as many games as possible, whenever Ryanair allows me to.
JohnnyG76 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
The way I understand it from growing up in Liverpool is that anyone who follows the team is a fan and anyone who goes to the games is a supporter. I now live in NZ and can't make the games so am a fan
Lampuiho (Arsenal) 3 years ago
Watching on TV or computer is so much better than watching live. You can't even see a reply of a foul, a goal, or just some skill moves. And being so far from where they're playing, it is not hard to miss a lot of those moments.

And I don't even support a specific team. I watch football, not the team, not the look of their uniforms, not a specific player. And I certainly don't watch them win. Because football is the sport I'm watching and I learn to play by watching them paly and then enjoy playing football myself
SuperSpurs (Tottenham Hotspur) 3 years ago
The way I look at it, a "proper" football fan is one who stays watching (whether at the stadium or on the telly) even when their team is losing and who will not hesitate to watch the highlights of such games. If you can follow your team both in victory and in defeat and take the jeering and insults from the fans of other teams, then you are definitely a true fan. I myself find it difficult to watch losses to smaller teams but I watch almost every single game regardless. I make very few exceptions, the recent loss to Stoke being one of them; I watched the match and was fuming afterward, couldn't bring myself to watch the highlights
FreeGlass (CF Rayados de Monterrey) 3 years ago
.... So, am I the only Man United fan who's dad actually took him out to Old Trafford on a frequent basis? Cos I feel like we're a dying breed, funnily enough.

I mean, as for Monterrey, that's a given, it's a tad of a regional club in a non-european league
Raffers10 (Arsenal) 3 years ago
A great article. Very thought-provoking
Valdarama (Bayern München) 3 years ago
Plus its amazing to be in the presence of your local legends. Get a life guys
Hill (Arsenal) 3 years ago
I don't understand your "get a life, guys" insinuation
Zhudayong (Barcelona) 3 years ago
What's even there to understand? Such a statement is downright offensive no matter the insinuation as I believe it's everyone's right to do with their life whatever the hell they want with it. The fact that one's priorities in life aren't the same with you doesn't insinuate your life is any better than theirs
Valdarama (Bayern München) 3 years ago
This guys crazy, telivized games limit your vision of the movement off the ball, and make scoring look easy, like everyone is in the right place at the right time, but really people work their buts off and don't even get the ball most of the time, if its too cold for you jacket on, if you can stand the noise get some earplugs, know live games are very expensive but it is definitly worth it. Jeeeez
Hill (Arsenal) 3 years ago
I think anyone who is posting on this thread knows how hard players work and how hard it is to score a goal. No one is saying its too cold or too loud. For most of us its just too expensive of an endeavor to fly across the ocean to see our teams play. For me a ticket to England is about 1000 bucks. Pop on another 500-700 for a hotels stay, add in transportation costs, food, alcohol, match ticket etc, and that is way too much. As a college student who will graduate in 6-7 months and looking for a job that is too much. I support my local team here in the states but I will forever be a Gooner and no one can ever take that away from me



   
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