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The Pen Hits the Fans

People who reads my stuff on a regular basis (assuming such people exist) know that I write on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from Dumb and Dumber to Raul Mondesi (although some would argue my topics ONLY range from dumb to dumber). Sometimes I write on something simply because it interests me, knowing that only my diehards will waste the time to read it, and knowing also that I may not actually have any diehards. Other times I write on current events, stuff that’s been in the news recently enough that people who stumble upon the site off of Google might read a couple sentences before realizing what they’ve gotten themselves into.

But certain subjects are universal, and when I say a subject is universal, I mean people who attend sporting events regularly will be able to relate to it. For those in this category, I write to you today on a something that can make or break your experience at a sporting event: the fans around you.

Sportscasters and sportswriters love to rave about the atmosphere at a game; Dick Vitale practically shows us his O-face every time he does a game at Cameron. But making up that mass of screaming, cheering, and clapping fans are several different types of fans. Sure, when things get raucous, everything blends together. But between the big plays, the true nature of each fan can be seen, although only to those around them. And as someone who has been to my share of sporting events at practically every level, and as someone who happens to be a self-proclaimed expert on essentially everything, and as someone who thought this would be a pretty good topic for an article, I’m going to discuss the various folks who populate the crowd.

With further ado, because I think this may be the first time anyone has actually consciously added further ado to anything. Anyways, moving on:

The Old Folks – Although they don’t need a whole lot of explanation, they’re going to get some. These fans, as they like to be called, typically sit in seats close enough to shout easily audible insults at opposing players, coaches, or referees, but yet they fail to take advantage of this privilege. They always sit… well, they just always sit. Anyone in the two rows in front of them must then sit and watch in lifeless despair. Optimally, they could all be lined up on the first row of the upper deck, or even more optimally, they could stay home. (Author’s note: This paragraph will be deleted in 45 years.)

Non-regulars – If you’re trying to create a hostile atmosphere, you want to keep these folks to a minimum, simply because they just don’t bring anything to the table. They go to games for a variety of reasons including: they were taken there by significant other (perhaps the worst type), they are with some sort of youth group or charity organization, they won a ticket in a contest, or the stadium is having some sort of cheap-ticket promotion. My friend Ryan noted that about 10 years ago the Bullets used to give free tickets to kids for making the honor roll. Again, these are the Bullets.

Silent Observers – These guys make up a sizeable portion of the upper deck. They typically don’t have the funds or the desire necessary to make the transition to the lower deck, but they typically come to games on a regular basis. I guess they’re better suited for the upper deck anyway; a silent observer who was a friend of mine once told me he preferred the upper deck because “it was a better view.” Hey, buddy, just admit you don’t want to stand up and you want a seat in front of you to put your legs over. And while they are generally knowledgeable about the game, they choose to clap as if John Daly just tapped in for a 12 on a par 4, just before tossing his ball in the lake.

Interested Observers – This is your standard issue fan, and they populate both the lower and upper decks. These guys understand the game to a certain degree, they have an interest in their team winning, and most importantly, they understand when to cheer. Most are also willing to cheer loudly, stand up, and even boo, which is critical in creating a home court advantage.

Untouchables – The Untouchables are so named because it should be the goal of every other fan, man or woman, young or old, to stay as far away as possible from them. These are the type of people that yell stuff like “What is this, basketball or tiddlywinks?” without even considering the repercussions of a remark like that. These are the guys who constantly try to give the players advice like “stop shooting, Steve” or “keep taking it in there Eric, you’ll get that call.” While these can be excused every once in a while, the untouchables cannot comprehend that not only is their advice inaudible to the players, but it has no bearing on the game whatsoever. These are the same fans who make utterly incomprehensible statements that are inexcusable under any circumstances, such as “Hey, captain Sajack, this isn’t Ohio State!” (Regrettably, these are real remarks) Basically, these are the guys you would refer to as “boss man” or “bub,” perhaps the two most degrading anonymous names in the English language.

Hecklers – These guys fill the void left after the booing or cheering has subsided with loud remarks designed to both lighten the spirits of fans and damage the fragile psyches of opposing players and referees. Often the verbal weapons are classics, such as “you’re missing a good game, ref.” Sometimes they are meaningless attempts at humor. A friend of mine used to always use his patented “He’s been doing it all game!” after the first foul of the game. Other times they are insults targeted at specific players, which frequently take the form of “Hey, [player being insulted], [some identifiable celebrity, object, or time period] called, they want their [something] back!” For example, “Hey Randle, Shaq called, he wants his free-throw percentage back!”

Crazies – This is who fills up a great deal of most student sections, although crazies exist at professional games as well. Crazies are almost always part of some organized group and often one crazy is indistinguishable from the next. While crazies do take themselves a bit too seriously, they are undoubtedly a positive for establishing a hostile atmosphere. As a general rule, anyone who wears face paint or does not wear a shirt or wears a wig or is part of a word formed by body paint or dresses up to mock someone on the other team or does something else unacceptable elsewhere in society, must fall into this category. Unless, of course, they don’t fall into this category, in which case they can only be…

Randies – This group, named for the legendary “Randy” of Wake Forest sporting events, is that rare breed that makes you think “Who replaced that guy’s Ritalin with a Red Bull?” They’re at every game, leading cheers, booing officials, and generally just drawing attention to themselves. One Randy that comes to mind is the fireman at the Jets games who leads the “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!” cheer. These guys get the fans going at times when everybody’s just about ready to quit. They put the “atic” back on the end of “fan.” And for that, I say thank you to all the Randies of the world.

“Without sports, what would all the Randies do?”

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