If you have ever wondered what exactly defines a true sports fan, you are about to find out. This definition is not as simple as it might seem. There are several factors that go into what I consider being a true sports fan. The first and most basic criteria is loyalty. You are inherently obligated to root for the team in the area/state 1) you were born in or 2) first place to live an extended period of time. For example, if you were born in one place but moved after a year, it would be acceptable for you to root for the team where you grew up living afterwards. Otherwise, your loyalty should lie with the teams in area in which you were born. You are a so-called sports citizen of that city or state. If you were born in a city with two sports teams, either one is fine, but you can’t root for both and you can’t switch teams. If you were born in a place with no sports teams, you don’t necessarily have to root for the closest one mileage wise, but you should root for a team close by. If you move to a new country, you are free to choose any team you like, but once you pick a team you have to stick with them.
It is not acceptable to root for a team solely because they are your parents’ favorite team. If you are born in Los Angeles but your parents are Philadelphia fans, your primary teams should be Los Angeles teams. This brings up the point of secondary teams. A secondary team is a team that you root for over all other teams except your primary team. If the Los Angeles Lakers were your primary team and the Philadelphia 76ers were your secondary team (because they are your parents team), it would be fine to root for the 76ers in every game in which they did not play the Lakers. Another example is if you live in one place for 20 years, then move to another place for 20 years. The first place should be your primary team, but you can have a secondary team from the place you now live in. One more example would be if one of your favorite players from your primary team got traded to another team, then that new team could be a secondary team. Your primary teams should never change, but your secondary teams are flexible.
So now that we have established which teams you should be rooting for, we need to determine the line between casual fan and real fan. I would expect a real fan to, at the very least, have a general idea of what is going on with his team at any point in the season. Real fan does not necessarily mean die-hard fan. You don’t have to watch every single game and know every single player statistic, but you have to watch at least a few games during the season and always know what the major headlines are for the team at any given time. Ideally, you would attend some of these games in person, but due to certain logistical and financial restrictions, this is not always possible and therefore not required. The results of a team’s games and seasons should have at least some emotional impact on your mood. Winning should improve your mood while losing should worsen your mood. Finally, you should display at least one item of your team somewhere in life. This could be many things: hat, jersey, screen saver, phone case, tattoo, poster, etc.
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