If you were kidnapped and held at gunpoint and the kidnapper said, “You must root for the Yankees or we’ll keep you in this cave forever without food or water or women,” what would you do?
Confessions of a She-Fan
Santa Barbara, CA
Interesting question, Jane. On an existential level, of course I’d rather die quickly in said cave. I detest the Yankees and everything they stand for and to cheer for them would be a repudiation of myself. However, on a pragmatic level, if simply rooting for the Yankees were to allow me to continue living, I’d probably do it. If you’re willing to die for an ideal, it had better be a pretty amazing ideal.
I understand fanaticism. But, there is a reason we call a team’s supporters “fans” instead of “fanatics.” Fanatic has a negative connotation to it. A fanatic is a guy who records Erin Andrews as she’s undressing in the privacy of her hotel room. A fanatic is willing to blow his or herself up for the glory of god, brahma, allah, yaweh or whoever else. A fan, while often just as insane in the sporting arena, usually tries to find a way to moderate those demons in other areas of their life.
And for me, although it would really suck to ever turn my back on the Tigers, if someone had a gun to my head and said “either you cheer for the Yankees or you’re a dead man,” living means more to me than fandom. In this case, it’s pretty clear which of us is the fan and which the fanatic.
Here’s the thing, I know Jeff is going to call me out on saying all of this but when it comes down to it, it’s the same for him. If his choices are rooting for the Cubs and being able to live or refusing and dying for that ideal, he’s going to say the same thing. Maybe not in this forum but in the real life situation, that’s the choice he would make. Because he hates the Cubs but he loves living more.
Ultimately, the difference between a fan and a fanatic is that a fan can still make rational decisions. Giving up rationality and being willing to sacrifice one’s life for the sake of one’s fandom is not noble. It’s stupid.
There are ideals worth dying for. That’s the reason that we have such strong and committed Armed Forces and why Parick Henry could unironically exclaim “Give me liberty or give me death.” Baseball, though? It’s a wonderful game but at the end of the day it’s just that. A game.