A Contradiction In Terms: Rebutting the 'Fair Weather Fan' Bandwagon

There was an article recently which I highly suggest you read first, concerning fair weather fans and how they have driven the Lakers to greatness.  Clark makes some very lucid points, though as a Wizards fan, naturally, I take exception on principle, but refuting it based on logic is another matter.  I'm taking a short break from team coverage to respond as a fan of D.C. sports.

Read the article, and you'll find it difficult to disagree with a perspective that, applied locally, points to exactly why Dan Snyder is enabled to do whatever he wants.  That wellspring of goodwill isn't infinitely deep, but who knows how long it will go on before the Redskins become a truly fan friendly team again.  But on to my response.

You really are a fair weather fan (no insult intended) if you regard being a fan as being on the same level as being a consumer.  Maybe that's the way fandom is headed, and that makes me shudder.

Sports became great because it was so intently personal.  You brought it home to your family, it became a part of your family.  Winning mattered of course, but at the end of the day, your guys were your guys.  Orioles fan didn't change the channel to watch the Yankees unless they were rooting for them to lose.  But I suppose you would argue, why wouldn't they?

Well, knowing you only want to watch a winner, I can't make an argument that would find purchase in your thought process.  I would go farther and suggest that is because there's something missing there.  I think the term fair weather fan is an oxymoron, because there is no such thing as a fair weather fanatic.

It wouldn't be a stretch for me to imagine such a "fan" never missed an episode of Survivor, Lost, or what-have-you.  I'm sure that unless Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul go to LA such a "fan" will suddenly be a devotee of the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls.  My gratuitous use of quotation marks aside, as you said in your article:

You know what they call fair weather fans outside the sports world?  Smart customers.  Think about it. 

Well, I have.  Fair weather fans are an insult because they are not fans.  Maybe they aren't supporting any other teams while "their" team sucks.  Well, if a smart customer enjoys good basketball and "their" team doesn't provide it, do they stick it out?  Of course not.  Two quotes here:

If McDonalds starts making crappy food, do you stick it out with Mickey D's in the hopes things will improve?  Or do you decide to stop going, or go to Burger King instead?  Unless you are an idiot, it's an easy choice to make.
One kind is quite deserving of your ire: the front-runner, the win-chaser, the turncoat.  You know exactly who I'm talking about, that guy who mystically seems to have affiliations with teams that have nothing in common except that they win a lot.

How can you suggest the smart customers you champion and the front-runner you disdain are anything but a flimsy rationalization away from each other?  You contend that the game is a business where the fans are the losers when billionaires with poor impulse control square off against rock star millionaires, implying that our loyalty should be so cheap as well.

Likening an objective assessment of Robert DeNiro's laughable descension into hack acting to a hardcore NBA fan's loyalty is a flawed analogy.  Robert DeNiro is a guy.  A sports team's faces and fortunes change with the years, but not where they come from.  Not in a literal sense, because hey, franchises move.

They come from us, we make them part of our identity.  We take the good with the bad because that's how we come as well.  Sometimes your luck is all bad, sometimes you know the reason, but you can't really change it unless you choose not to buy.  But check it, for a fan, it's not really a choice at all.

By the way, talking about how the Lakers were always under pressure to reload and have always done so...I'm sure the eternal flexibilty to operate above the luxury cap threshold doesn't give them an advantage over the small market teams struggling to compete.  But you're right, their fanbases need to vote with their pocketbooks!  Except then the franchises move.  Oh, right.

I can't really be mad, at the end.  There's an old logical proof; just because Socrates is a man, does not mean all men are Socrates.  All fans are consumers, but not all consumers are fans.  So the next time you get ready to type, think, or say 'fair weather fan', remember it's a contradiction in terms.  'Smart customers' aren't going anywhere, but neither are nine dollar beers.  They're just one more distraction, and we won't let it get in the way of our love for the game.

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