Jermaine Every: When it comes to fans, it's easy to spot the realists and dreamers
This time of year brings out the best and worst of sports fandom. Football season is upon us for the NFL and NCAA. The MLB non-waiver trade deadline has passed as the waiver wire trade deadline looms. NBA teams have executed their offseason plans and are looking forward to the upcoming season. The rollercoaster of emotions can be trying. Some fan bases are so Jekyll and Hyde this time of year, it can be a full time job to keep up with them.
What I’ve noticed most, is the variance of opinions within fan bases. They range from the Realists: the ones who seem to know exactly what their team is capable of and leans towards logic, to the Dreamers: the fans who think no matter what, their team can win it all, despite whatever odds they face. The vast majority fall somewhere in between: optimistic about their team’s chances, yet guarded as to what could actually happen. I tend to reside in the gray area.
The Realists are the fans that most other fans tend to dislike. They do their research or homework on things. These are the fans that are well-versed in the goings-on and minutia of what their team is doing. They speak in absolutes and facts. When asking a Realist what their team will do in the upcoming season, they’ll most likely respond with a well-thought out answer based on previous seasons as well as the team’s offseason improvements. These fans are ones that don’t give a damn what other fans think because they feel in their heart of hearts they’re telling the truth. They are the fans who will wear the gear, buy tickets, tailgate, but leave feeling OK because they know the potential outcome.
The Dreamers are the section of fans that other team’s fans tend to dislike because of their obnoxious optimism. They’re the sect of fans that perpetually believe their team is going to win it all. This type of fan is blinded by team colored glasses and can’t fathom anything other than tremendous success. A conversation with one of them typically will end in frustration because they aren’t capable of logical thought. Craig Shelton coined the phrase “suckas for love” when referencing this particular division of Texans/Rockets fans. They are blindly devoted to any direction their team takes and will fight you if you try to convince them otherwise. Dreamers don’t give a damn what other fans think because their minds can’t be changed. Think Thelma and Louise when they jumped the cliff.
The gray area of fandom falls somewhere in between these two opposite ends of the spectrum. They will believe in their team, but have a conservative approach. They will be supportive, but cautious of overdoing it. They’ll also ride the fence when asked to make a prediction. Not to say that they’ll follow the crowd, but they tend to fall right down the middle. If a Realist says their NFL team will go 8-8, the Dreamers will say 14-2; this set of fans will say 10-6 or 11-5.
It doesn’t take much to spot any of these fans. The worst of the worst are the NFL fans I’ve heard over the past week that think their team is a Super Bowl contender after one freaking preseason game! Or the ones who think random NBA veterans, obscure free agent acquisitions, and a rookie drafted in the second round will lead their team to the playoff success over the Warriors. Yes, I’m looking at you overly-optimistic Rockets fans. Wherever you fall on the fan spectrum this time of year, please remember to keep it respectful. Don’t let your opinions cloud your judgment and lead to you looking foolish.