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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

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The joy of fandom: Abandoning the rational to join the joyous (and sometimes sorrowful) mob

In the first two months of 2018, I, like many Philadelphians, spent much of my time wearing a German Shepherd mask. 

Two Philadelphia Eagles players, Lane Johnson and Chris Long, wore dog masks after their unexpected win against the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs. The Eagles were the underdogs of the post-season and the fandom embraced that title. 

When you are a part of a fandom, you’ll wear a dog mask for a month, give the sign of peace to your seat neighbors at home games or paint your face your team colors. You do your part.

This March, fandom is on full display, from the many Caitlin Clark superfans to students skipping their 2 p.m. classes on Monday to see the Irish play one last time this year in Purcell Pavilion. 

With March Madness in full swing, here are the reasons you should lean into fandom, and join your local joyous mob:

     1. Loyalty

Sure, rooting for the number one seed can be fun, but rooting for your team through seasons and seasons of losses to finally see them win a championship is without a doubt more gratifying (If you are a Jets fan, this does not apply. Pick a new team). No team in the history of professional sports has more losses than the Philadelphia Phillies — 11,259 by latest count. But you can be sure the seats at “The Bank” will be filled for loss number 11,260.

     2. It’s good for you!

According to Professor Daniel Wann at Murray State University,  “People who identify as sports fans have higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of loneliness and tend to be more satisfied with their lives compared to those who aren’t interested in sports. Fandom is “psychologically healthy” and brings people a sense of belonging by being surrounded by other people cheering for a common cause.” Professor Alan Pringle of the University of Nottingham notes that sports “gives families a ‘common currency’ that connects families unlike few other subjects.”

   3. Wacky activities

What some people call wacky, others call lucky or necessary or fan protocol. Within reason, fan traditions can be some of the greatest traditions and superstitions. You might laugh at this, but I bet you didn’t step on the God Quad grass until you passed your theology classes. And how will the Buffalo Bills ever win a Super Bowl if their fans stop crashing into folding tables?

   4. It impacts the game

In 2020, when NFL teams played without fans in their stadiums, there was essentially no home-field advantage in terms of scoring percentages. The lack of fans meant that both teams were hearing silence, no cheering or jeering. 

    5. Fun and friends

Sports brings people together crossing racial, economic and generational lines like no other activity.  Face painting has not made sense since William Wallace took on King Edward I, but, through sports, it has created a lot of lifetime friendships.

The case for fandom is rather clear. As a Philadelphian and Notre Dame student, I urge you to embrace your fandom. That is, unless you live in Queens or Columbus, Ohio.

Erin Drumm is a senior at Notre Dame studying American Studies, journalism and history. She is from Philadelphia and spends her summers (and every weekend possible) at the shore in Cape May County, New Jersey. Outside of The Observer, Erin can be found cheering on the Fighting Irish and the Phillies, reading and talking about pop culture and history. She can be reached at edrumm@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.