However, this post is meant to talk about sports fans everywhere.
I found myself pondering about being a fan the other day, and recognizing that sports had started to become something that drove my emotions. Wins would lead to elation, and losses would lead to despair. I would even allow the frustration of the game to fill me with bitterness and anger at times. As I pondered about this, I felt disturbed that I would allow something so trivial to begin ruling how I felt. I decided to change my attitude towards sports, and go back to just enjoying the game. This led to a realization of a choice I can make about the type of fan I want to be.
Three Types of Negative Fans
The Fair Weather Fan
This is the fan that has been talked about a lot already. No one likes a fan who is only interested in winning and who leaves as soon as the "weather" turns bad. There is no commitment, and no loyalty there. They just want to hop on the bandwagon and ride the waves of success. Most would not consider these "true" fans.
The "Blame Someone Else" FanThis is the first of two negative fans I have become aware of as I have reflected over the past couple of weeks. These fans blame someone or something else when their team loses the game. "The referees were horrible in that game!" "It was definitely the referees who gave that game to the other team." "If the weather delay hadn't happened, then things would be different." These thoughts and statements will never change the outcome of the game, but only create feelings of resentment, depression, and anger. Feelings that take away from truly enjoying sports.
Now, I'm not saying referees are perfect, but that is a big thing to remember: REFEREES AREN'T PERFECT. When it boils down to it, a team should work to overcome bad calls, and do their best. I would argue that VERY few games were ever completely the referees fault.
The "It's All 'So-and-So's' Fault" Fan
This type of fan was extremely apparent after Saturday nights BYU vs. UofU Rivalry Game.
One of the most heated rivalries this nation has ever seen, the Holy War is always hyped up as the most important game of the year. The cold hard truth: one team will come away a loser, and the other will be a winner. Thus, when the game is all said and done, there will be some extremely disappointed fans for one team. The "It's All 'So-and-So's' Fault" Fan then begins to blame individual members on the team or the coaching staff, and argues that they should be ousted from the team:
- "Bronco Mendenhall should be fired! This team needs a new head coach!"
- "Taysom Hill is no quarterback! Give someone else a try! Put in Ammon Olsen!"
- "Robert Anae is the worst Offensive Coordinator ever! Fire him and get someone who's more capable!"
- "The offense was terrible in that game! The defense deserves a better offense!"
In the end, these fans are just looking for a scapegoat, because they do not want to put it on the team as a whole. These fans are missing a key point of football (and most sports): IT IS A TEAM SPORT! Any argument that someone should have done better is ridiculous! Of course they could have done better! But, if I argue that the offense should have played better, I could just as well argue that the DEFENSE could have played better and not allowed any points on the board. The fact is, every team has things to improve upon. If everyone were perfect in their executions, on both teams, sports games would become EXTREMELY boring to watch, and would always end up in a draw. Where is the fun and excitement in that?
This leads me to the type of fan I want to be:
The "Looking for Improvement" Fan
I would love to see my team win! But, I need to recognize that they will probably lose some games. The best perspective to keep, one that always helps a fan to stay positive even when things are going wrong, is to look for things that the team can improve on. This goes for wins and losses. I will use BYU's first three games of this season to illustrate:
- v. Virginia: BYU lost this game. It was a tough game to watch. However, if a fan simply congratulates Virginia for beating us, and then focuses on what BYU can do to improve, the game will not be seen as a "waste." What did we learn from the Virginia game? BYU needed to work on ball handling skills. mis-snaps, dropped passes, fumbles ... all of them related to ball handling. As a fan, and as a player, the best thing to do is brush off the loss, look at the things to work on, and go to work improving as a team for the next game.
- v. Texas: BYU won this game, and it was a lot of fun to watch. However, there were still things that needed to be worked on. It was amazing to see BYU run all over that Texas defense, but our passing game was pretty dismal. Thus, after that game, I recognized the thing to improve on was the passing game.
- v. Utah: Sadly, we lost this one, and will have to wait three years to try to beat Utah again. The important thing to focus on is that we still have 10 more games to play, and there are things to be worked at and improved upon. With this focus in mind, the Utah loss doesn't become bitter, or a "season ender." From this game, it became clear that the team needs to work on Blue Zone Offense. We would get down into the blue zone, but couldn't capitalize on those drives.
If the team focuses on improving, and the fans stick with them, then I think BYU can still have an awesome season! Furthermore, as I have changed my perspective about wins and losses, I find myself enjoying the game again. Losses do not end up throwing me and my whole demeanor into depression and frustration, but give me a chance to reflect on what the team can do to improve. I hope that the coaches, staff, and players can have this same mentality. If they do that, I think we have a fantastic chance of developing a great BYU team.
Lessons for Life
This earth life is all about progression. We are here to learn, to grow, and to progress. The moment we stop trying to improve ourselves, life becomes stale and stagnant. Teachers who quit trying to perfect their lessons and just "get through" the material lose the real rewards of teaching. Professionals who focus only on gaining money and not improving how they help others miss out on really making a difference in the world.