I’m a loyal Tottenham Hotspur fan. If you’ve hung around me long enough, you’ve heard me talking about my Spurs, a soccer team in the English Premier League. Right now they’re #3 in the whole league, which is comprised of the 20 best soccer teams in the British Isles. Why the Spurs? Family history, actually: I was born in their area of London, my Dad supported the team and attended games – even as a boy! – and my cousins and Uncles are also rabid Spurs fans. It’s fun, we share email about the team, tease each other on social media about how they did in a match, and generally have a sense of camaraderie about it all.
I also have some friends who are really into soccer too, and that’s also fun, but it inevitably brings up a bit of a dilemma: My version of being a “loyal fan” isn’t the same as what most guys seem to do. Specifically, I don’t stuff my head full of facts and figures. Ask me about the teams playing the last game I watched and odds are pretty good I’ll know (Spurs v. Bournemouth, actually) but if you ask me who scored and at what minute of the game? Odds are good I will have no idea, though I’m likely to know the final score.
It’s something I don’t really get about a lot of guys; what about stats and data for a sporting team is so appealing? Whether it’s soccer, American football, baseball or hockey, you probably know at least one guy who approaches their passion for a team by learning everything the team’s ever done in its history. Third base hit from that big game against the Yankees or Dodgers back in 2007? They know who it was. Sweet three-pointer at the buzzer to win against the rival college? They can tell you and then tell you if that player lived up to their potential or fell flat the following season.
Me? I recognize most all of the players on “my” football team [sorry, the entire world but USA call soccer “football”, and so do I] but do I know how old they are? What teams they came from? Their percentage of possession or the chance they’ll hit a penalty kick? No darn idea.
Which leads to a modern male identity question: Am I really not a very good fan at all for not having that level of obsession / dedication to knowing everything about my team? I don’t think so, but it does lead to some interesting situations when a football-fanatic pal like my friend Peter asks me about a big match from the previous week. He goes on about how it was so important and offers insight into the next big matchup in the league, and I just look at him blankly.
How about you? Are you a stats-obsessed fan who starts and ends the day by reading about your favorite team and watching every video clip you can find? Or are you like me, a fan, passionate about your team, but not beyond all the many other facets of your life?