Sports: The Importance of Fans and the Community

On Sunday October 12, I attended my very first NFL game in Cleveland, Ohio. I am from Los Angeles, so there never was a keen focus on the NFL as there is no team in the area. USC football is our version of NFL football. After going to multiple USC games, I though I had gained the feel of the live football experience. There was never really any interest in me to go to any NFL games until I got the offer from one of my new close friends at U of M. As an Ohio native and an experienced NFL fan, my friend really sold the live NFL experience to me. He explained how the intensity of the game and the fans create a unique atmosphere that can only be experienced at an NFL game. I was sold.

As my three friends and I are walking to the stadium and I look around at all the people walking alongside, raging from babies to seniors, I realize that this game is more about the city and the community than just the players on the field. People from all walks of life (socioeconomically and racially) are joined together in this special community.

A view outside the stadium from my perspective
A view outside the stadium from my perspective

I had the privilege of sitting in box seats for my very first NFL game. Given that I am a Los Angeles native and it was around 30 degrees that day, I was especially appreciative that I had a nice, warm, private room to watch this game. But, what I realized later is that the box literally kept me in a box and I was only able to witness the incredible atmosphere and interaction between the fans from afar and not actually experience it. The game was incredible, but watching all of these Browns fans rejoicing in success was an even more sensational feeling. The whole stadium was one, cheering and jeering with one big voice. The Cleveland Browns routed the rival Pittsburg Steelers 31-10, putting a smile on everyone’s face as they left the stadium.

In “NFL Rule Changes: When is Football No Longer Football?” Marc Tracy argues that football is very close to losing its essence with all of the new potential changes to promote safety. For the game’s sake, I do agree with Tracy, as we do not want to lose the game that we all know as American Football, but evolution is something that all sports experience. Football in the 1920’s is extremely different than football in 2014. Safety and humanity is essential, so if that means some legitimate changes to the game, I think it is worth it. The NFL just has to make sure that they do not lose the fans because I realized that this game is more about the community of fans in the respective city.

A view from my box
A view from my box
A view of the box
A view of the box

On Tuesday, December 2, I attended the Wolverine basketball game against Syracuse. This was a highly anticipated game and when I heard that the friend that took me to the Browns game was going to wait in line at 7 am for a 7:30 pm tip off, I was extremely confused. People are really this dedicated, willing to wait in the freezing cold for around 10 hours to get good seats at a basketball game? I ended up getting to the game around an hour before it started. I actually ended up sitting in pretty good seats, in the first row of the upper level. Since I was in the first row, I did not have to stand up, but I noticed that every single U of M student surrounding me stood the whole entire game, even the students in the first row of other sections on the same level. I was officially the least dedicated student fan at the game.

A view from my seats at the basketball game
A view from my seats at the basketball game

Sports are all about community. Once I get older, spend more time on this campus and feel more invested in the community, I will be more inclined to stand up.

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3 thoughts on “Sports: The Importance of Fans and the Community

  1. I agree that fans in sports are very important. I truly love to go to sporting events because experiencing it in person with many other fans is amazing. When you talk about football maybe changing their rules, I agree with you that football must change their rules in order to keep their players safe. However, the football administration must take into account the fan experience as well. Fans are definitely one of the most important aspects of sports.

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  2. Fans are essential to sports and even carry some power in them, especially in soccer. As a huge soccer fan, I smile when I hear you speak of the atmosphere and camaraderie of the stadium because that vibrant environment is very unique to certain sports. I would even argue to take your point a step further and attest that fans define sports, as many players/teams play for their fans and for their fans’ satisfaction in their success. Great read, thanks for the post!

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  3. Growing up as a diehard sports fan, I completely relate to your ideas that fans create atmospheres like none other. Despite teams’ success or lack thereof, with a dedicated fan base a culture surrounds a team. For example, this year Michigan’s football team had a horrendous season; however, the culture built behind this program by the fans would make it seem as if we were undefeated. Each game day I saw thousands of fans, young and old, walking to the stadium decked out head to toe in Michigan maize and blue. It is the culture the fans create that make sports what they truly are.

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