Thursday, June 12, 2008


Living in Boston, I get a pretty good idea of what separates those who I'd consider "pure" fans and those I'd call "opportunistic" fans. Amongst the drunken hordes in Fenway Park, there are definitely "pure" fans, and they're not the ones wearing pink hats and Ellsbury jerseys. I won't say everyone else is a bandwagoner, because the term doesn't really adequately describe the group as a whole, but bandwagon fans definitely fall into the "opportunistic" category.

But overall, the Lakers/Celtics series has truly brought out these opportunistic fans. At least the pink hatters have been watching the Sox since 2004...nobody wearing a green "Beat LA" shirt has even been to a Celtics game in the last twenty years. Worse, these new "fans" feel as though it's their God-given right to win a championship, and moreover, they all assume they get to talk trash after watching the Eastern Conference Finals.

All of this made me start to wonder what I define as a "pure" fan. Most argue that it requires a longterm dedication to a team, but what defines longterm? Moreover, is somebody who watches twenty games a season their whole life more of a fan than someone who starts watching baseball in college? What if that college kid watches 120 games a year? And finally, what rights/benefits should pure and opportunistic fans enjoy? When you're this bored at work, you have time to think about things like this.

Essentially, I came up with a couple ideas.

  1. A pure fan loves the sport, not just his team. If you claim to be a Dodger fan but don't enjoy watching any teams but LA, that's not pure fandom. Appreciation of a sport proves far more dedication than appreciation of a team.
  2. A pure fan knows nearly everything about his team. But he also knows more about his teams rivals, the league structure, playoff formats, and minor leagues than a typical fan. You can't consider yourself a pure fan without knowing why the Patriots and Jets hate each other...and if your answer is "Spygate," you're wrong.
  3. A pure fan knows enough to talk trash, but intelligently. Telling me "Lakers suck," and "You're gonna get fucked up for wearing that Kobe jersey," doesn't really prove anything. On the other hand, saying "Jordan Farmar's enormous ears create too much wind resistance, preventing him from making good drives to the lane under pressure," shows me you actually know enough to be allowed to insult my teams. If you don't know anything about the team you're insulting, you're just another opportunist.
  4. A pure fan truly enjoys winning. This seems stupid, because what fan doesn't enjoy winning? But at the same time, post-2004 Red Sox fans have an incredible sense of entitlement. Just because your team has been good lately doesn't mean that you consider anything less than a World Series a personal insult. I honestly heard someone complain the other day that Josh Beckett sucks because he "didn't strike out enough people." In a game where he had 5 strikeouts in 6 innings. Where the Red Sox won. If you can't truly appreciate a win, you give up when the losing starts.
So basically, what I'm trying to say is this: I have nothing against opportunistic fans, because I have no reason to care what they think. But that doesn't give you carte blanche to become a trash-talking Celtics "fan" once the playoffs start. If you're going to celebrate a title, then learn your starting front court, first.

Game Preview: Celtics at Lakers, 9:00 PM EST

Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are extremely overdue for good games. Extremely overdue. Until the Lakers, particularly Pau and Lamar, learn to play in the third quarter, they're gonna have to keep coming back in the fourth. Which is fine, as long as they do.

I still think the Lakers can take this series with strong play at home. If they can get through tonight with a W, they'll have the benefit of momentum with another home game yet to play. At the very least, though, they've fulfilled my minimum requirement of not getting swept.

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