The Fanatic Test

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June 18, 2013 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas

The word “fan”, as in reference to being a fan of something, comes from the word “fanatic”; I’m sure most of you know this.  Now, the term fan is used with varying degrees of severity.  Some people use it to describe themselves even though they only listen to the hits of a band, or only care about a team when they are winning.  Other people think to be a fan is to know every single thing there is to know about something.  This is also called an obsession.  But seeing as how fan is derived from fanatic, I guess some degree of obsession is necessary.

Talking to my dad the other day I realized that the true test of a sports fan isn’t how much they know, or how often they check Wikipedia for updates; being a true fan of a team comes from enduring unimaginable horrors caused by the team you root for.  It was also at this moment that I realized my dad will always be a bigger Knicks and Yankees fan than I am because of this fact.  He’s seen something that I have never seen: a Yankees team with a losing record.  For everyone not old enough to remember the last time the Yankees had a losing record, it was in 1992; and I sure as shit don’t remember anything prior to 1994.

For me and my generation our fandom of the Yankees was solidified in 2004 after they blew a three game to none lead over the Red Sox of all teams in the playoffs.  If you could live through that and still be a Yankees fan after that, then by all accounts you are a true Yankee fan.  But it’s the people who stuck by the team through the dark years from 1965-1976, and 1982-1996 that are the bigger fans.  Simply put, they’ve been let down more than we have and still come back.

I’ve only been a real Knicks fan since 2009, so my fandom is still fledgling as I wasn’t really there during the Isiah Thomas years, or the bittersweet years of the 90s.[1]  But once they do let me down by doing something disastrous, if I still stick around, that will prove my loyalty.  Is that what being in love feels like?

It’s not only my own teams that have let fans down on a massive level, look no further than the Red Sox, Cubs, Bills, and Jets to name a few.  The Red Sox sustained 86 years of misery and constant let downs before winning it all.  The most iconic though is the passed ball under Bill Buckner’s glove in the 1986 World Series.  With the Chicago Cubs, you have game six of the 2003 NLCS.[2]  The Bills lost four Superbowls in a row!  They are the only team to ever do that, and they still have fans.  Maybe it’s the Yankee fan in me, but I don’t think I could tolerate that level of ineptitude and teasing.  And well the Jets are the Jets.  And it’s because of all of these incidents that some of the craziest people I know are Jets fans, Cubs, fans, and Red Sox fans.  The more extreme a failure is, the crazier the fans tend to be, and it’s because it’s only the biggest fans that stick around season after season of misery.

Below is a partial list of events for certain teams, which if you’ve lived through and still support them to the level you did before said incident, you can call yourself a real fan.




New York Yankees


Becoming the first MLB team to blow a 3-0 lead in the postseason

Boston Red Sox


Bill Buckner’s misplayed ball during the World Series

New England Patriots


Losing Superbowl 42, after going 18-0.

Chicago Cubs


Pick your poison

New York Knicks


John Starks going 2-18 in game 7 of the NBA Finals

Montreal Expos


The baseball strike that would eventually lead to the Expos relocating to Washington.

Seattle Supersonics


Watching the Glove win it all with the Miami Heat, only to lose your team a year later.

Cleveland Cavaliers


The Decision

Buffalo Bills


Losing four consecutive Superbowls

Indianapolis Colts


Watching Hank Baskett (husband of Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson) single handily lose the Superbowl for the Colts

[1] But by all accounts I don’t think there’s any other team in the NBA that’s disappointed their fans as frequently or severely as the Knicks.

[2] I can’t really lay all the blame on Steve Bartman for this though.  Alex S. Gonzalez committed his only error of the season on a routine ground ball that would have ended the inning.


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