Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Four Tiers of Sports Fandom

In early July, during a visit with photographer Adam Tetzoff and novelist Amy Shearn at their swankY elevator building in Brooklyn, I told Adam about my excitement about the Black Hawks' thrilling run or rather skate to the Stanley Cup.

Adam has often, well maybe just occasionally, remarked about my admittedly
front-running sports fan philosophy.  As if that was some kind of character flaw.

As I have grown older, I consume sports almost exclusively on TV. TV is entertainment. What is entertaining about watching losing teams?

While not exclusively a front-runner in sports, I tend to favor winners and ignore losers. I am that guy that "real" fans excoriate as band wagon jumpers.

Here is a cool bandwagon.

Hard to jump on that guy.

 Here is a picture that Adam took.
Pirated from Downtown at Dawn

Adam formulated what he calls the four tiers of sports fandom? Where do you fit in?

Four tiers of sports fandom 

1. Life long love: the equivalent of a sports marriage.
Till death do you part. May run hot and cold but a sincere and emotional bond is always present. The most rewarding wins and most heartbreaking losses.

For me, this is the Chicago Bears. They are appointment TV and if not I can't watch live- I make sure to record the game. Then live in fear of inadvertently hearing a score during a fall afternoon when I am forced to be outside or see a play or some other non-Bears related activity. 

2. Local team: On tv, in the papers, talk of the town. Convenient to follow and useful socially. If you move you need not maintain relations but you can always claim long term affiliation when they succeed.

I never really had that when I lived in California. I did not Belushi all over the place with Chicago sports love.

3. Playoff Pony: Sometimes you root for a story, other times the enemy of your enemy. Can lead to strange bedfellows.

This is definitely me. The Hawks. The Bulls, post Jordan when they made a run. Embarrassingly, Tiger pre-Thanksgiving 2009 when he was winning majors and everything else. Also, the Phil Jackson lead Lakers whom I adopted after the Bulls stopped winning in Chicago.

4. Moveable Feast: your favorite player's current teams. These affiliations can instantly arise and disappear with a draft selection, trade, or free agency.

This is all Adam and his love for Kevin Garnett. Now playing for the Brooklyn Hipsters.

My passion with the Black Hawks this year began with their playoff run and culminated with a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Had the Black Hawks lost in the playoffs. I would never have gone. We would have visited Fort York.

Here they are about to fight the United States in 1812.


Saluting the World Champion Black Hawks.
Bobby Hull. he of the amazing slap shot and incredible liver.

Lots of Russian surnames on the roster.



  1. I added a 5th Tier in the interim:

    Tier 5. The Out-of-Towners:

    A conference away, a cool style of play, or maybe just a handsome jersey, these are teams you vaguely root for, usually over a long term, but don’t get upset with every W/L. Could be you loved Ricky Henderson or Walter Payton as a kid and you have fond memories of those days gone by, or maybe you just think they are fun to watch with a wacky offense or lock-down D. Just a casual generally positive vibe.

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  3. I used to think I was a One when the Seahawks entered the league and went 9 and 6. Jim Zorn to Steve Largent! But then I moved away, Steve Largent turned out to be a Republican, and the Hawks slipped to 6 and 9. So I realized I was a Two.

    I used to be a Three for the Warriors in the Run T-M-C era, but then came the whole Chris Webber catharsis, followed by the Allen Iverson wanna be, Latrell Sprewell, a revolving cast of characters, and a distasteful owner. Not as bad as Al Davis, but still, Oakland. It was enough to mostly cure me of pro-sports. Getting rid of the TV finished it off.

    I do remain a Three for the Niners, but we'll see what happens when they move to Santa Clara. The Sharks? They play in San Jose and may well be in Costa Rica. The Giants? Wrong sport; you've got to be born in this country.

    I'm a Five for the Celtics and the Lakers. There's also the anti-Five, those teams and players we love to hate, where the joy comes from Schadenfreude. LeBron and the Miami Heat. Not enough Schaden for Freude lately.

    Then there is that team sports Nirvana, where we can enjoy the athleticism and the game with complete equanimity towards individual teams and players. I envision John Madden as having achieved this enlightened state

  4. We can all agree on Lebron as the player we love to hate. In my era it was the entire Detroit Pistons, Laimbeer, Rodman and Isaiah Thomas.