This year’s Champions league final triggered intense debate over whether Chelsea truly deserved the crown. Reading articles about that debate, one could realize that not all fans view the game of football through the same lens. Opinions vary from one fan to another. These varied opinions form the basis for a fan’s perspective about the game and justifications for his stand. Based on my own experience and various thoughts that I have come across, I have tried to list these different characters of football fandom.
The two parameters that define a fan is his knowledge about football and his love for his favourite club. These two independent factors classify fans into four groups; four groups that encompass the whole family of football fanatics.
These highly learned football fans have no biased team following. The detached approach to watching games allows these breed of men to appreciate the good and castigate the bad, no matter which side it comes from. They believe that football is a blend as much of football skills as of sportsman’s characters- grit & determination. So, they acknowledge that both these aspects of the game deserve equal appreciation.
As they have ability to make impartial analysis of the matches, these fans make ideal future football analysts.
Idealists & Pragmatists:
Then, there are fans that are equally passionate about a team as they are about knowledge of the game. This sect of buffs has certain specific reasons for its fascination with football; perhaps it is the plays and the tactics or the goals and the nervous moments etc. Their tastes or preferences define the teams they support. For instance, a fan inclined to attacking brand of football would support a team like Arsenal. Nonetheless, these fans are consistent in their takes on the game. They are never sore losers.
Based on their view about the game, they can be further categorized into two types.
‘Playing football the way it is to be played’
The critics of Chelsea’s approach in winning Champions League regard that the beauty lays in the way a team plays. They consider football as another awe-inspiring spectacle and the best teams are the ones that give most joy to spectators. They savour the beauty of the game through the plays, not through the end result. They opine that victory is not everything, but just the icing on the cake.
‘If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?’
Unlike Idealists, the pragmatists value results and trophies. For them, only victory is beautiful and everything else is just a means to that end. A narrow victory is as sweet as an emphatic one and an unfortunate defeat is as bitter as the drubbing. As long as the results keep rolling in their favour, they are least bothered about anything else.
‘Love is blind’ said Shakespeare. In these fanatics’ case, it very much is. A passionist becomes attached with a team in the early years of his football fanship. The reasons may vary but they aren’t rational: The team is the best club during that period; his favourite player plays in that club. This early attachment later grows into an irrational obsession. However, his knowledge about the game remains stationary. He puts in no significant effort to pick up the nuances of the game. So, a passionist’s opinions are based out of thin air with sole intention to justify his favourites team’s performance.
These beginners need no introduction. Spending their time with other old timers, they are in the process of honing their skills to become a professional football fan. The facet of football that appeals to them will decide whether they become analyst/passionist/idealist or pragmatist.