In a twisted and warped way, there’s definitely something ironically common between Robin Van Persie and Roger Federer. Their fans. But this is where the commonality stops and the irony begins. Where Roger Federer’s fans are as loyal to him as they first were, Van Persie’s recent attitudinal change has wrecked the fans’ faith and trust in him completely.
Case in point; one of my best mates. A converted Arsenal fan, converted from a non-club football fan that is, my friend might be, but this hasn’t stopped him directing his ire at Van Persie for ditching the club so barefacedly. Also, the buck does not stop at Van Persie for him. On the contrary, it extends from Adebayor’s uncouth behaviour as a transferee, to Fabregas’ transfer to Barcelona, and from Nasri’s unceremonious exit to Manchester City to Theo Walcott’s supposed indecision to contractually commit to the Gunners.
As passionate as these sentiments sound on paper, verbally they sound even more fierce and fervent. And it’s not just about Van Persie and the present turbulent situation at Arsenal. This heightened level of fervency from fans applies to any sport, and to any player, irrespective of nationalities and creed. But most important of all, without any thoughts of gaining rewards or reaping any personalised gifts.
So the question arises, what motivates a fan? Not money for sure. In spite of money being the biggest redeeming parameter, petitioning a favourite for money is the last thing that fans do. So what is it that makes fans tick? Never does one see crowds abating or the much sought television rating points dropping during the sporting season. Sports and sportsmen are always welcome and in vogue, like proverbial warriors of the medieval times. So much so that at times, fans look for payback for real-life events on the playing field. Like the Greek-German quarter-final encounter in the Euros this year where both Greeks and Germans vied for superiority; a direct result of the ensuing European economic conflict. Or like a Tottenham-Arsenal rivalry to emerge as the superior North-London club, a legacy passed on by past-era fans to present-gen idolaters, half of whom who might not even know about the actual reason for the vying.
Maybe the question does not exactly have any clear-cut answers. And the fans’ ecstasy to share their time and passion needn’t be brought down to a cut-and-dried plane. But fact remains that where even in the most solid of relationships, a one-sided giving and sharing disturbs the whole balance of equation, sports is a domain that differs completely. And perhaps in an elementary way, it’s fans who make sports so worthwhile. Because even though fans are separated by borders, they are united at the basest of levels possible; a level where only like-mindedness can permeate.