Culture of Sports Fans

By: Erica Schmidt

Sports are all around us and so are all the sports fans showing their loyalty and even hatred for certain teams. Are there any requirements to becoming a true “fan”? Do people get judged for going to a college and not being a fan of that college? According to Jenkins, “Fans passionately embrace favored texts and attempt to integrate media representations within their own social experience” (Jenkins 57). Fans have their own way of connecting to what they are most passionate about and making it their own.

Two sports groups that have a wide variety of fans are football and figure skating fans. These groups are very different in how they are portrayed. Within these two groups there are many loyal fans that would do anything to cheer on their team or figure skater, but there are also many anti-fans or haters that spread their hatred worldwide.

Football fans hold the stereotypes of attending tailgates and drinking before games so they can have a good time while cheering on their favorite team. Sports fans that really get into their team are the Ohio State football fans. Ohio State fans have many traditions that they love and admire including the “Mirror Lake jump”.

This video shows the loyalty of the fans and how they are willing to jump into a lake that’s near freezing temperatures during the last week of November (“Beat Michigan Week”) to cheer on their team. These fans may even be considered “misfits or crazies “ according to Jenkins (11). There are also fan base sites like “Buckeye Nation” which is a Twitter page that one fan started so everyone can get involved with what is going on within Ohio State sports. Most Ohio State fans would fit under the category of “brainless consumers who will buy anything associated with the program or its cast” because most Ohio State fans, if not every Ohio State fan, has something “Ohio State” (Jemkins III 10).

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This picture is a prime example of the brainless consumers who deck themselves out in fan gear, but it also portrays the loyal fan aspect because these fans attend every game including away games.

According to Jim Caple’s article, The Passion of Figure Skating Fans, figure skating fans are more laid back and enjoy watching their favorite skaters take the ice (Caple). Figure skating fans are different than, say, football and baseball fans. For one thing, skating fans don’t ever throw beer or batteries at the athletes (Caple). Instead they throw stuffed animals and flowers to the skaters (Caple). Also, skating fans wear patterned sweaters decorated with pins and flashing buttons and they hold up signs supporting their favorite athletes (Caple).

Let’s look at the figure skater, Michelle Kwan. She has her own fan page called, “The Michelle Kwan Fan Page” which has the whole history behind Michelle Kwan and has a link where you can buy memorabilia of her. Fans of Michelle can tell you what music was played at the 1998 Olympics, both in her short program and her long program. This goes along with the stereotype of fans who “devote their lives to the cultivation of worthless knowledge” (Jenkins 10).

But with every fan, there is always an anti-fan or hater. Anti-fans or haters “are those who viscerally dislike specific text, often without much experience of them, basing their distaste on trailers, textual snippets, or other paratexual sources” (Springer 58). For Ohio State, it would mostly be Michigan fans and fans from SEC schools.

This Michigan fan explicitly showed his hatred for Ohio State when he made this video. This hatred for Ohio State started from the Toledo War in which both states were fighting over who would own the Toledo Strip. This mentality of beating Ohio State in football makes the Michigan fans feel like they are giving Ohio State what they deserve. SEC teams are in with the hatred as well, especially after Ohio State football player, Evan Spencer, said “We’d wipe the floor with Alabama and Florida State” (Stankevitz). Comments were arising all over the place of people expressing their hatred for the Buckeyes.

There weren’t many Michelle Kwan haters, but one hater made a website that emphasizes how much she is overrated. Also, pictures were distorted to make her face look bigger or to make her body look bigger.

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What purpose do these pictures serve? What is this hater trying to get out of doing this? Haters “exhibit agency, and sometimes incredible creativity, in what is, essentially, cultural critique (Springer 64). These pictures show hater creativity in making something different than how they actually appear. They also disrupt the status quo of what Michelle Kwan actually looks like. It makes us resist the understandings of how she actually looks and creates these false images.

Our world is filled with millions of fans and anti-fans that engage in “asserting their own right to form interpretations, to offer evaluations, and to construct cultural canons” (Jenkins 18). The ideas of race, gender, and age play a role within both: football and figure skating fans. According to the article by Jeffrey Jones, More Americans are Fans of Pro Football than any Other Sport, Football fans are mostly male, with an equal amount spread across whites, blacks and non-whites (Jones). Most of these fans were between the ages of 18-29 and 50-64 (Jones). One reason football is geared more towards male fans is because females are not supposed to leave their household chores for a sport that involves hitting others where they could get hurt. Females are thought to be these gentle human beings who need a male to take care of them. Female football fans have to look at the sport differently and make it their own to connect to it more. Figure skating fans are mostly female with ages ranging from 50-64, with the majority of them being white (Jones). With most figure skaters being female, male skaters don’t see where they can fit in and the ones that do skate are considered to be homosexual because fans think it’s a female sport, just like football is considered to be a male sport. Also, there are a lot of different nationality skaters especially ones that are Japanese and Chinese (Jones). All three of these categories make up the majority of fan culture as a whole.

Bibliography

“BuckeyeNation.” Twitter. Twitter, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. .

Caple, Jim. “The Passion of Figure Skating fans.” ESPN.com. ESPN, 21 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

CampusCopilot. “”Official” Mirror Lake Jump Video 2012 HD.” YouTube. YouTube, 24 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Dimengo, Nick. “Multiple Sports.” Bleacher Report. N.p., 21 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Eminemmusicable. “How Much I Hate Ohio State!” YouTube. YouTube, 12 Dec. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Jenkins, Henry III. “Star trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching”. Critical Studies in Media Communication. National Communication Association, 1988. 85-107. Print.

Jones, Jeffrey. “More Americans Are Fans of Pro Football Than Any Other Sport.” More Americans Are Fans of Pro Football Than Any Other Sport. Gallup, INc., 20 Apr. 2001. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

“Michelle Kwan Body Builder.” DeviantART: More Like Elena Seiple 1 by ~ManicArchives. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

“Michelle Kwan Huge Face.” DeviantART: More Like Amber Tamblyn – WG Morph by ~MattBrewer. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Michigan Wolverine. “The Idiotic Fans Of Ohio State.” YouTube. YouTube, 06 Feb. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

“Morning Sports Report | Columbus CEO.” Columbus CEO. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

“NCAA Football Analysis.” NCAA Football Analysis. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

“Ohio State Buckeyes Football News FREE Comprehensive Coverage.” Ohio State Buckeyes Football News FREE Comprehensive Coverage. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Jenkins III, Henry. “: Textual Poachers: Television Fans And Participatory Culture.” Film Quarterly 46.4 (1993): 63-63. Print.

Shiela. “Sick of the Kwan.” The Sheila Variations. The Sheila Variations, 8 Feb. 2006. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Springer, Kimberly. “Beyond the H8R: Theorizing the Anti-Fan.” The Phoenix Papers, Vol.1, No.2. Ed. J. Holder Bennet. Denton: FANS Association, 2013. Print. 55-77

Stankevitz, JJ. “Ohio State WR: ‘We’d Wipe the Floor’ with ‘Bama, FSU.” CollegeFootballTalk. NBC Sports, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

The Jerseychaser. “Ohio State Football Players Suspended for Getting Free Tattoos & Selling Memorbila on Ebay.” The Jersey Chaser. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Winfield, Heather. “The Michelle Kwan Fan Page!” The Michelle Kwan Fan Page! N.p., 2 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

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2 comments

  1. I would suggest that you have not done a lot of research. Skating fans are pretty vicious. Read a few threads at the forum “Figure Skating Universe”. You will also find a particularly odd kind of misogyny going on where skaters who appear “too feminine” by skating to softer music–or simply piano music in general, wearing lighter colors, or simply being too attractive are derided as “pwetty pwincesses” and it is suggested that htey wear black and skate to hard beats.

  2. vincent sparry · · Reply

    thank you for your research!!!!

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