Wednesday, April 6, 2011

what is a fan

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A fan is defined as an ardent devotee; an enthusiast; usually a spectator. (worldnet, onl.) Although this statement leaves little room for argument, it does little to clarify what a fan is beyond a devoted spectator. It is my duty, as a devout sports fan, to embark upon this seemingly difficult task of defining what a fan is, to distinguish the difference between a fan and a fanatic.

A fan is someone who follows a team, event, or person. A person becomes a fan when they devote a little of themselves to what they admire. Part of being a fan is to give support to something in hopes that this support will somehow lead to the success of what ever is that you give yourself to. After reading the assigned passages, from Sport in Contemporary Society by D. Stanley Eitzen, I realize that a fan, in the case of sports is as important to sports as the athletes are themselves. The fan is what creates the heroes of sports. As a fan, one embraces a team and follows it over the years through victories and defeats. The payout for all the hours spent watching is when your team finally makes it to the top, In this respect the athlete and the audience experiences overlap and interpenetrate in the mythological dimension, creating a shared realm of belief and feeling in which the athlete and the spectator are united in many of their hopes, fears and interpretations of the outcome of any event or contest.(Bursten. Sport as Secular Sacrament. Eitzen,15)

After the readings, I have a better understanding of the lengths that some athletes go to in order to gain the admiration of their fans. In some cases this desire is so great that they are willing to push themselves to the point of injury. Young athletes are especially open to injury. All of them, doctors say, use joints and muscles too much, and dont allow enough healing time for the stress related injuries they develop. (Tye. Kids and Sports Injured at an early age. Eitzen 17) This was very apparent to me in the article regarding female athletes in figure skating and gymnastics, where the elite child athlete and the American obsession with winning that produced a training environment wherein results are brought at any cost, no matter how devastating.”(Ryan. Female Gymnasts and Ice Skaters the Dark side. Eitzen 14) I believe that fanatics, be it spectator, parent, coach etc., have to claim some of the responsibility for the harm that young athletes do to themselves for the sake of recognition and success. The intense training and pressure heaped on by coaches, parents, and federation officials-the very people who should be protecting the children-often result in eating disorders, weakened bones, stunted growth, debilitating injuries, and damaged psyches.(Ryan. Female Gymnasts and Ice Skaters The Dark Side. Eitzen 144) As seen in the movie “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner a fanatical parent is often the cause of a child losing interest in something he once enjoyed. As the father, being his child’s greatest fan, he attempted to push his son to achieve things that he was unable to accomplish himself. In doing so the father created distance in their relationship as well, his son rejected his attempts to push him along, and rejected baseball all together. The importance of the baseball field and the players was to reunite him with all the things he once loved, which were baseball and his father.

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In the simplest terms a fan is someone who is enthusiastic about sports, but at a deeper level a fan is someone who has a “pure” love for the game, which leaves no room for fanatical or obsessive behavior.

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