Fandom

The European Football Championship has started, and once again I am at a loss in my attempt to understand fandom. Now, it’s not that I don’t understand why people are fans of teams. That part I get. Mostly. What I don’t understand is why they insist on waking up my children with their celebrations.

Somehow fandom grants the right to annoy. But how? The logic escapes me.

“I am happy that my country’s team won. Therefore, I am going to drive around Rob’s neighborhood and wake up his children with my honking and yelling.”

The philosopher in me knows what this kind of reasoning is called: It’s a non sequitur, which is just a fancy Latin phrase for “the conclusion has nothing to do with the evidence.” But it’s the citizen in me that knows what it really is: It’s madness. It’s tolerated madness, normalized madness, socially acceptable madness, but it’s madness just the same.

Of course, the game itself is not madness, nor is watching it and having a good time. If you want to get loud in a stadium or sports bar, be my guest. I like games. I like being loud. I even play games. Well, I play video games. Lots of video games.

There’s no particular genre of video game that I like more than any other, but the ones I truly love do have one thing in common: they are hard. Mastering a hard game gives me a kind of satisfaction, perhaps similar to the satisfaction sports fans feel when their team accomplishes something similarly challenging. But, imagine if I were allowed to express my satisfaction in the same way: wandering around my neighborhood with an air horn, blasting the Super Mario Bros. theme song.

“All you kids need to wake the hell up, because this guy just beat the original Super Mario Bros. in less than 6 minutes!”

I would be arrested. Perhaps rightly so.

But, now that I think about it, my analogy isn’t quite right. If I beat a hard game, or do a challenge run of a not-so-hard game, and then feel that satisfaction that comes with accomplishment, it’s because of something I did. My skills. My talent. My satisfaction. But the football fans? They haven’t done anything other than drink beer and watch other people play. So, really, if I follow the logic, I should be able to wake up the neighborhood kids after watching some Street Fighter gameplay videos on YouTube.

“Out of bed, kids! I just watched Daigo parry a 30-hit combo in Street Fighter IV and go on to win the Ouka Ranbu Cup!”

Again, arrested. This time definitely rightly so.

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