For Fans, it’s More than a Game

I sprinted around my house like a madman, my brother screamed like a little girl, and my dad practically cried. So, what had happened to make my family feel this incredible surge of energy and emotion? It was not a job promotion, a marriage proposal, or major community announcement. We had not bought a new house, and school was not just let out for the summer.


The Detroit Pistons had won the 2004 NBA Finals.


My house, a city, and a state collectively exploded with emotion over something as simple as a sporting event. But why? Why does 10 tall guys throwing a round ball in an iron rim 1,000 miles away cause us to practically go insane? Because we are true, dedicated, knowledgeable, experienced, emotional fans. For anyone that is a true fan of a team, you know what I mean. Staying up late to watch games, memorizing every player’s stats and jersey number, and idolizing them as a kid shooting baskets on the driveway or throwing the football around the backyard. It is tough to explain this connection we feel with our teams, but there is one thing for sure: there are ups and downs to being a fan. Trust me, I would know.

I started following the Pistons, Tigers, and Lions as long ago as I can remember, and was basically born into it. My dad had grown up transfixed by the likes of Isiah Thomas, Barry Sanders, and ‘Sweet Lou’ Whitaker. He often tells me of the long summer days in the suburbs of Detroit, when him and his friends would listen to the Tigers every day on the radio. The summer of 1986, the year he graduated high school, is his fondest memory. He never fails to remind me that the Tigers started 35-5 that year, which is still the best start in major league baseball history, and eventually went to win the World Series. The child-like excitement that he shows when he recalls those memories exemplifies the power that being a fan has- it can take you back in time, to memories that you’ll cherish forever.

In high school, we are fans of two completely separate entities. For one, we continue to passionately follow our favorite pro and college sports teams. We watch the Lions every Sunday, watch the Tigers in the summer, and try to catch a Pistons game in the winter amongst the homework and studying. Some of us rejoice when Michigan State won the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl, while others celebrate Michigan hiring a new coach, Jim Harbaugh. Our child-like wonder remains. On the other hand, we also turn our attention to high school sports, the biggest being football. We pack the stands on Friday nights, but are cheering for something that we are directly associated with, not just fans of. We feel invested in these games because the team is standing for us, the students. No longer do we associate with a team because we like a certain player or coach, but we like the team because we are basically a fundamental part of it. If FHC football wins, FHC wins as a whole.

All of these teams draw support from the community as well, because the community of parents and other supporters feel a direct association with FHC. They feel like they are, in a way, part of the team. If the FHC hockey team beats East, FHC wins, the students win, and the community wins.

As for me, I am still waiting on my summer of ‘86. The Lions and Tigers are on the brink of greatness, and the Pistons are surprisingly decent after releasing Josh Smith. One of these days, I know that one of my teams will have a historic season that I can tell my kids about one day. Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane described my feelings about being a fan: “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.”