Be Fans, not Fanatical

The passion of the fans is one of the many things that make sports great. It’s what causes us to do things like plan vacations around our team’s games, not go to work during the first few days of the NCAA tournament, drive hours and pay exorbitant amounts of money just to see your team one time per year( in some cases one time ever) and engage in copious amounts of smack talk all year long. For years we have enjoyed the thrill of every win and the agony of defeat. Fans’ entanglements with their teams are what I call “sports relationships” because we become emotionally invested in them, in some of the same ways we do with flesh and blood interactions. We take ownership of our fandom and to an extent the team( though in most cases that “ownership” does not result in the financial rewards) when we use terms like “we” and “our. The vast majoity of instances, the passion is channeled for the betterment of the fan experience, however the recent free agent departure of Kevin Durant from the Thunder to the Warriors showed the nastier sides of fan passion. 

You want to teach a player a lesson for leaving your team? Burning your property is the way to go.

At a certain level I can understand why fans would be upset; your team drafts a player and for years you watch his development as a player on the court or the field and his maturing into a man (hopefully) off it; he is your guy, so if that player leaves, there is that sense of sports abandonment and betrayal because he thought the grass was greener elsewhere. However we need to step back and temper this emotion. Engaging in activities such as jersey burnings are, to borrow Jim Rome Show lingo, “triple U”. It solves nothing, as the money has already been made from that jersey sale, destroying your own property over someone you do not know is asinine and it just comes off as the unstable actions of some scorned lover.

Fans need to take need of the sobering fact that the adulation and support that you have heaped on your favorite players in no way grants you ownership over them. When it comes to the furthering and bettering of their careers, they owe the fans nothing; that is a realm reserved for their families and loved ones, not people they don’t know and quite frankly likely do not care about them beyond their ability to hit three pointers and score touchdowns. If they have fulfilled their contractual obligations to a ballclub, they have every right to move on to another team, should they choose to. 

You want to boo Kevin Durant or any other player, that is your prerogative and it is a part of the sporting fan experience. As a basketball fan myself, I wanted KD to stay in Oklahoma City from a competitive standpoint, and I also felt we could have been in the beginning of an exciting rivalry between Golden State, the Thunder and the Spurs for years to come. I felt this move kind of took the steam out that potential three way fight for yearly control of the Western Conference. I do not begrudge him for the decision he made. If sports upsets you to the point where you feel the need to burn his, or anyone else’s jersey or spew some of the vitriol that came his way, you really need to step back and evaluate yourself and the decisions you made in life that brought you to this point.  

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