Hockey analyst, Steve Dangle Glynn titled his book, “This Team is Ruining My Life (But I Love Them).” This title sums up how most fans feel if they are faithful to a team that hasn’t won a championship since before they were born or in their childhood. It’s mentally and emotionally draining when you sit in front of the television, waiting for your team to score that winning touchdown or run, and they come up short every time.
But like Steve Dangle says, he still loves his team. People still tune into the games, purchase tickets and wear jerseys. What prevents fans from abandoning their drought-ridden teams (like the Dallas Cowboys or the Cleveland Indians) and hopping on the bandwagon of a winning team (like the New England Patriots or Los Angeles Dodgers)?
In a blog post, actor, director and writer Kenney Myers gives 10 possible reasons that fans remain loyal to their below-average teams. One of these possible reasons is geography. Fans that are from a certain area or live in a certain area are more likely to cheer for that area’s sports teams. Location facilitates a connection between the city’s sports teams and the fans who grew up or live in that area.
Another reason for fan loyalty is mob mentality. When you get caught up in your favorite team’s fanbase, you become one with the rest of the group. Further, mob mentality transitions into the idea of the team being an extension of yourself. Being a fan of the team becomes part of your identity. If you abandon your team after a long haul supporting them, you abandon a part of yourself. When your team is successful, you feel successful yourself. Likewise, when your team is losing, you feel like you’re losing as well.
Perhaps the largest factor that keeps fans dedicated to their teams is the hope that their team may one day win. Dr. Edward Hirt, professor in Indiana University’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, said, “One of the beauties of sports is that anything can happen on any given day.” Fans have hope that their team signing the top striker in the league will propel them to a championship. Like Hirt said, anything can happen. Whether it be because of luck, skill or strategic management, teams could pull through.
Sports teams draw fans in from all over the world, and usually, fans stay loyal to the teams they choose to follow. Despite those teams being unsuccessful or utterly frustrating to watch, fans keep coming back for various reasons. Fans’ commitments to a team that isn’t doing well is key to the beauty of sports.
Sources: Forbes, Headspace, Kenney Myers