The sports fans I hate

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There is a certain sect of sports fans who I absolutely can’t stand. I want to use this post to explain.

First off, I don’t much care for big-time college sports. Yeah, I love March Madness, but only the first and second rounds, when 15s and 16s still possess wild dreams. Otherwise, the whole mess just makes me angry. Corrupt coaches, corrupt programs, so-called student athletes who leave school with a subpar education and, oftentimes, no degree. Millions upon millions of dollars going from corporations to programs to coaches to administrators. Stores selling No. 12 USC jerseys without the player making a cent; video games featuring the numbers and likenesses of players, as the kids get squat.

More than anything, however, I detest off-the-charts fanatical adult fans.

When I was a student at the University of Delaware, I very much enjoyed covering the Blue Hens. It was fun; cool; optimistic. These were my peers—kids I’d see in class now performing on a field or court. I rooted for them, because they were (in a sense) me. When Kevin Blackhurst hit a deep three or Billy Vergantino threw for a TD, I felt pride. A chill went down my spine. Really, that’s what collegiate sports should be for—the kids who play, and the kids who attend the universities. It’s their time. Their moment.

Yet (and this is a direct reaction to the incredibly vile, anti-Semetic (I’m Jewish), homophobic (odd, since I’m not even gay) mail I received in response to my latest SI.com column) I am always at a loss to explain the adult boobs who, sort of literally, live and die with the Vols or Tide or Trojans or Hogs or Irish or … whatever. These people, long out of college, refer to the teams as “We,” own a closet chock full o’ university colors, arrive three hours early for games and know the names and hometowns of every player on the roster–starting QB to fourth-string kicker. The kids they’re rooting for are 18-, 19-, 20- and 21-years old, yet these so-called fans have no problem cursing their names, booing them to death, calling them flops and failures and, if they dare transfer, traitors.

It actually reminds me of the all-time greatest SNL skit—William Shatner addressing a Star Trek convention. To quote Shatner: “I’d just like to say—get a life, will you people. I mean, for crying out loud, it’s just a TV show. I mean look at you. Look at the way you’re dressed. … I mean, how old are you people. What have you done with yourselves?”

Swap “TV show” with “college football game,” and it’s exactly what I’m talking about.

My advice to you folks mirrors Shatner’s: Get a flippin’ life. Use your time more productively. Take a long Saturday afternoon walk. Hit up a museum. Travel. Because there’s more to life than college sports.

Much more.

11 thoughts on “The sports fans I hate”

  1. I’m sorry that you’re probably going to get even more hate mail than you did yesterday, but I’m glad you said all this.

    In a way I think it’s good that adults support their alma maters- if only they’d know where to draw the line. Like when I read “Friday Night Lights,” it warmed my heart the way the high school football teams brought the community together…and then it sickened me how they’d idolize 15 year-old kids, only to humiliate them and spit them out once they lost a game, or became useless.

  2. Question, not an accusation, but if you replace the word “college team” with “professional team” above, would you still feel the same way?

    From what I can gather, most of the people who are insane fans of a college team, usually they’re from the south where there wasn’t a lot of professional teams and the college roots run deep. So instead of rooting for the Red Sox, Yankees, Eagles or whomever, they root for the Bulldogs, the Gators, Seminoles, etc.

    The only place where this doesn’t really jive is in Michigan and Ohio.

  3. There really is no excuse for stupid people that shouldn’t be stupid.
    I’m not going to excuse the idiots that have offended you and every decent human.
    That said, I do see a hole or two in your rant.

    If you are a student at a school or even an alumni of a school you have the right to the term, “We”.
    That was the foundation of college sports. “Our school can beat your school, pick your best and we’ll go head to head.”
    If you take that aspect out of college sports than you have the Pro’s. College sports is already becoming too professional, let’s leave public ownership in.

    One of the great things about college sports is change.
    In the Pro’s we know who will always ride to the top, and who will get stuck at the bottom. Change usually is slow.
    In college every year the team dynamics change. In the Pro’s, not so much.

    Do athletes go to school and never learn anything? Often.
    Does Joe Blow go to school and never learn anything? Ya.
    At least an athlete can learn a skill, and if the coach is any good, a life skill.
    Some athletes actually earn a legitimate degree, too much focus is on the ones that don’t.

    Just going to college will help the athlete, that doesn’t go pro, have an opportunity to earn more money than if he had never attended in the first place.
    There is more to life than sports period, but if it wasn’t for sports where would you be right now? Writing books about food and fashion?

  4. Keith Ryan Cartwright

    There are times when our actions have unintended consequences, so let me point out that if they empty their closet of all the team colors and take down their car flags then chances are they’re going to clear off their bookshelves too. With that said, “On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin…”

  5. Just reading about Masoli at Ole Miss.
    Did they side step the intent of the rule? Probably.
    Should Mississippi even have taken the guy? Open to debate.
    Here is an Athlete that may never make it in the Pro’s BUT he got a degree at the UofO and now is pursuing a graduate degree at Mississippi.
    Without the scholarships he looks to be Prison bound, and some may say that is still a possibility.
    At least there is hope.

    Maybe he never got paid, like the Pro’s, to play. Still it seems to me College has been his main hope for life outside of trouble.
    That’s the enormous difference.

  6. Although I agree, will you make an exception for those of us who are adults (45, in my case) but actually attend the university we’re cheering for? 🙂

    Of course, in my case it’s Division 3 and we have no football team, but I’ll probably in the stands cheering for our very good hockey team this winter. And though I won’t *look* like a student, I am one 🙂

  7. Ok…I am way more than done with observations like so: “There is more to life than sports period, but if it wasn’t for sports where would you be right now? Writing books about food and fashion?” It seems as if every freaking post Mr. Pearlman makes, someone always makes this comment.

    We get it. Jeff writes about sports, but also writes about the negatives of it.

    Don’t we all do that with our jobs? I am a teacher. I make my money on teaching. It’s not much money, but it’s money. There are good things, and there are negative things. I talk about the negative things aloud. Can I write a post about the negative aspects of teaching, and actually have someone reply with a “Thus says the person who teaches for a living.”

    It’s as if Jeff can’t write about the negatives of his profession without someone calling him a hyprocrite. Please.

  8. dorf,
    It was a play on this posting by Jeff:
    https://jeffpearlman.com/?p=6731

    I’m sure Jeff caught it even if you didn’t.

    It is a fact though that we do love our sports.
    It is also a fact far too many people seem to revolve their lives around sports.
    It is also a fact that Jeff earns an income because of our love of sports.
    He’s a good enough writer, if there were no sports, he actually could make a living off of food and fashion.
    Well maybe not fashion I saw the shorts and I saw the haircut. But food, ya.

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