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In football, there are fans and there are "plastic fans"

SENIOR ANALYST
Editor's Pick 14 Jul 2013, 09:10 IST
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Remember the time when watching football used to be about, well, watching football?

Remember the time when watching football used to be about, well, watching football?

Over the last few years, the good old game of football has evolved from action on the pitch to heated debates off the field. Back in the day, football was about supporting your club, going back to school or work and either gloating or aggressively defending your team.

Live telecasts on the telly did not change much because the underlying understanding did not change. If you did not know football, you could not bluff your way through. Unless you actually watched or understood the game, you couldn’t claim to be a fan/supporter, and so couldn’t be part of the cool group.

Then came the internet.

With the advent of social media, faceless conversations became a possibility. As a result, people started voicing their opinions more vociferously, what with the fear of a face-to-face confrontation removed. To an extent, even that was fine; you could still have an intelligent conversation with the fans of a rival club.

And then, it got worse.

After a point of time, people who really knew nothing about the game started taking part in said conversations. These were people who wanted to be known that they belonged to the “cool” group. You know, the ones for whom watching cricket was anathema for no other reason other than the fact that it was too mainstream. Football being the next best alternative, they took to the sport like ducks to water, with the only difference being that these people remained ugly ducklings instead of growing into beautiful swans.

While in itself it may not have been such a bad thing, as it only talks more about the popularity of the sport more than anything else, there has been an unwanted evolution in this fan-base, a sixth finger if you will.

The birth of the plastic fan.

Before we even go into how the plastic fan is ruining/enhancing the experience of watching the beautiful game, it is interesting to look at how this particular set of fans evolved over time.

At first, the plastic fan tried fitting in by actually trying to have a sensible discussion. Unfortunately, as the species, by its very nature, did not have enough knowledge nor showed any inclination towards making an effort to learn, it got beaten down in all kinds of discussions. There was no hope as even the facelessness of social media wasn’t enough to protect it from shame.

But then, this wasn’t a species that was of the dinosaur variety. It worshipped Charles Darwin and truly believed in the concept of the “Survival of the Fittest.” And so, survival instincts kicked in and evolution did its thing.

These “fans” more than made up for their limited knowledge of the game by becoming trolls. A troll, as you would know, is one whose intention is to provoke an emotional response from the other person and ensure that a normal discussion is disrupted.

Contrary to popular perception, a “plastic fan” is not one that supports a team purely based on their trophy collection and being the more successful team of that time. It is understandable that in most cases, especially when there are no geographical or emotional ties to any of the teams, one would want to support a team that has a decent chance of winning, unless, of course, you are a masochist (in which case you would no doubt be a Spurs fan).

Rather, the title of a plastic fan is conferred to those people for whom it is more important to gloat about winning over actually watching the game and enjoying it. Instead of supporting their team by either watching or trying to find out who performed and who did not, they wait for the game to be over simply so that they can come online and rub it in the face of hapless rival fans. You can forget about having any sort of discussion regarding the match in such cases as the standard response after one or two arguments that you put forth would be, “we won, and that’s all that matters”.

And God save you the day their team loses. My sincere suggestion would be to stay away from these “plastic fans”, even if the thought of getting back at them to give them a taste of their own medicine tugs at you ferociously.

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