Being the fan of a team vs the fan of a sport

I firmly believe that most “sports fans” are in fact fans of teams, not fans of the sport itself. I distinguish between the two thusly:
A fan of the sport watches/listens to any form of the sport available to them. A fan of hockey, for example, would watch the NHL, but also, if available, watch women’s hockey, minor league hockey, college hockey, international leagues, Olympic hockey, etc.
A fan of a team, for example, the Boston Bruins, watches the Bruins, maybe other NHL teams if they’re on national TV, or during the playoffs, but otherwise doesn’t care about hockey. They might enjoy watching hockey more than baseball, but they’re not invested in the sport beyond what is happening to their team.
I myself am a very odd case. I like watching most sports, and I do have teams I like, but I’m just as happy watching Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s hockey team on their Youtube channel as I am the NHL. However, I don’t have the time or attention span to follow any team throughout a season. I’m curious what other people here think about such things.

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Hockey, I am a fan of the sport. I love me some hockey, and I’ll watch it when I can. I watch teams I don’t even care about.

Baseball… I vaguely want the Mets to win because they’re in Queens. But I also want the Yankees to win because they’re in New York and it makes Scott mad. But the sport itself I couldn’t care less about.

Esports I care about the game but not the players/teams. I don’t root for anyone in particular. I just enjoy the spectacle.

I will watch Overwatch streams because I understand it and I have come to be a fan of certain players and teams in the Overwatch League, but I have tried watching Starcraft and other esports and I just can’t understand what’s going on well enough to get invested.

You have no idea just how amazingly applicable this topic is to starcraft 2.

In the west when starcraft was showing the west that esports could be a real thing here, there were teams, but exactly nobody gave a shit. What team a player was on was kinda like trivia. The format was usually ‘team name’ so the player Root Destiny’s handle was destiny and he was on team Root.

The teams may have mattered insofar as they occasionally provided things like transport to the venue and sometimes even a teamhouse full of practice partners to players. But again most people didn’t care. For a while they were trying to pimp this TL vs EG rivalry but many fans felt that this never REALLY held up because occasionally hell even fairly frequently, players on the same team had to compete with each other in order to advance.

Sometimes the finals were two members of the same team. Those finals were still amazing. People if anything were often just fans of individual players, which was a bit like the starcraft version of being a fan of a team. However, most often what I saw was people watching the tournament and just enjoying the game for the sake of the game.

Flipping that on it’s head, in Korea, same exact game down to the patch number, different mindset.

They had Teams, capital team. Like if you heard someone was on team Slayers, that meant that they trained with the legendary Boxer and they had to be good just cause they were accepted onto the team. Teams carried much more prestige there.

Also western teams were teams like Root, and EG, and Sixjax. As far as I know, all of those were esports teams formed with the specific intent of being esports teams (TL was the exception and they were the team of the famous starcraft website of the same name )

The korean teams were managed by Kespa and often had large sponsers that they were sometimes named after like SKTelcom T1 and Samsing KHAN

So when it came to the foreign scene (anything not Korean is foreign int SC) Most fans were fans of the game who played favorites with the players and basically outright ignored the teams. With the Korean scene, which was harder to follow due to the odd viewing hours and lack of english casting (at the start anyway, they got their shit together) You still had favourite Koreans but when judging players you weren’t familiar with you were more likely to care about whether a player shared a team with one of your favourites or if you’d heard of either team.

I can go on and on for hours about this, but for the sake of brevity I’ll leave it here.

Boooo, hiissssssssss.


I like to root for chaos whenever I can, see the Milwaukee / Oakland World series

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Since the Cubs won I am literally not a fan of any team or any sport – as long as the Yankees lose.

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So you do support one team: whoever is playing the Yankees. :slight_smile:

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“Hello fellow not Yankee fans” He said as he quietly removed his Yankees hat and put it behind his back.

Thinking about this, I realized that in Fighting games (and applies to other eSports situationally), I tend to cheer based on the character used and who is playing doesn’t really matter. Whoever is using my favored character I want to win, or whoever uses something rare and less seen.

I was about to mention how this kind of thing only works for video games, but thinking about it, sports can have less seen tactics and game plans too. So same principals could apply there.

Ok seeing all the angles here, I think there may be an interesting panel in this topic.

Something like “What kind of game fan are you?” working title. Talk about how being a fan of games takes different forms depending on what kind of game is being played.

Plus I can the the research learning what like say Jai Alai fandom looks like and how that breaks down.

Fans of teams, fans of playsyles, fans of individual players, fans of characters and, fans of the sport. Any others? I’m sure there are.

“Who is this game FOR?”

That’s a panel we could do.

Another interesting topic under the umbrella: Why do we often find ourselves being fans of categories? Well it’s a subset of being fans of the game. The game is more enjoyable when you have someone to root for and if you’re a fan of the game in general and only a fan of the game, you by definition won’t have someone to root for. So people naturally fall into being fans of something more broad. Such as a character in a fighting game, or a faction in an RTS, a league or division or conference in a sport. Such that they’ll likely have a side to be on in any game they watch.

Also interestingly I think this only applies to competitive games. Exceptions?

Also interestingly, if you follow something long enough, you end up with an intricate ladder of your personal fandom. So like in starcraft I was a fan of, in order.

  1. A ranked list of individual players (foreigners)*
  2. A ranked list of individual players (Koreans)*
  3. Zerg (one of the races)
  4. Foreigners
  5. Koreans
  6. Idra**

*1 and 2 were slightly mixed, there were a few Koreans I’d root for over certain foriegners, but the above is a general trend.
**Except that one time he placed in Korea

Does this kinda thing happen in every game?

I find myself revisiting this topic as I wonder to myself “Am I really a fan of professional wrestling?” Last night was the Royal Rumble, one of the big shows of the year that even folks like Rym and Scott probably remember hearing about in their childhood. I went to a local game store to watch it, as is my usual routine, but I ended up leaving before the end of Asuka vs Becky Lynch, the first match of the main card. I realized that I don’t care about WWE. I don’t care what happens in WWE. I don’t care who wrestles in WWE. I would prefer wrestlers not go to WWE, but I don’t begrudge someone chasing their dream or hoping to get what they hope will be a larger and more stable paycheck than working the indies.
I still like watching New Japan, indy wrestling in North America and England, Mexican lucha libre in CMLL, and I recently started exploring the Chinese wrestling being posted on Youtube. I think I like wrestling, but who ever heard of a person who likes a “sport” except in the biggest league? No one watches a hockey player UNTIL he makes the NHL.
What do you all think?

Well Pro Wrestling and other sports are fundamentally different. The scripted nature of wrestling means that you can’t just follow the talent. Even when WWE can get lots of talented wrestlers in their ranks, if they book them badly that talent means nothing. In normal sports the skill of players and teams is the main thing, and obviously everyone tries to put in their best because that’s what wins games. In Wrestling there are storylines and other stuff to consider and there is many different types of skilled wrestling that work on different ways and different levels.


Pro Wrestling is probably closer to a movie genre than a sport because of its scripted nature, only in Pro Wrestling all the actors (or at least the primary ones) do their own stunts and those stunts are extremely physically demanding. It’s the nature of the stunts involved and the physical demands of them that makes it so similar to being an actual sport despite effectively being more like a movie or, even closer IMHO, live theater.

Saying you like Pro Wrestling but not WWE is probably akin to saying you like sci-fi movies, but not Star Trek. You can love Star Wars, the MCU, Pacific Rim, whatever, as all are movies that fall within the sci-fi genre, but still not like Star Trek (FWIW, I like pretty much all of the above myself, including both Wars and Trek, but the Star Wars/Star Trek fandom hatedom seems to be a thing). You can even say that, for example, “Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart were/are excellent actors, but I still don’t like them in Star Trek,” to saying, “Finn Balor is an awesome wrestler, but I hate what they’re doing with him in WWE.”

Now, if you look at sports like baseball, football, hockey, etc., sure, when it comes to TV time, it’s the big leagues that get the most attention. However, especially in smaller cities, there is a good bit of a minor league fandom too, and that doesn’t include the overlap with college sports. If you ask around, I’m certain you’ll find fans who prefer college football and/or basketball to the pros for some reason or another, despite the college level being somewhat lower than that of the pros.

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I think you are underestimating how much people who like sport like sport.

I often watch matches at Challenger tennis events, which is one level below the top professional tour, and really enjoy them. You can watch them for free in the ATP website. You get interested in the players by seeing them in matches at Grand Slams, where there will be loads of players from outside of the top 120 taking part. Also you get to see the hot new young talent, as well as some veterans putting in a few more years work before retirement.

I’m sure the same is true for lower leagues of other sports. Soccer and Baseball certainly. You see the best players on the way up and down, and also get to support a local team without much travel or expense.

Indeed. I’m only loosely familiar with the European soccer system of lower divisions and such, but I can definitely say that minor league baseball (and hockey, in certain parts of the country) is quite popular. I used to live down the street from a minor league stadium and used to go see games there all the time. The stadium was also usually pretty full as well. It’s hard to beat 3 hours of quality entertainment (if you’re into baseball, at least) for the cost of $5/ticket or so. Even better, you’d see future stars play and you can brag when they make the big leagues that, “I saw So-and-so back in the minors!” If you were real lucky, you may even see a big league player on a rehab stint in the minors and get to see them much more up close than you could at the major league stadium.

I completely understand wanting to “see the stars of tomorrow today”
For example, I watched a wrestler named Matt Riddle perform on shows for a smallish company called Evolve when they came to my era for probably 3 years before he signed with WWE last year. What I am describing is more akin to you watching those tennis players in the Challenger events, and then losing all interest in them when they sign up for, say, the French Open or Wimbeldon. I am not conversant in professional tennis, I must admit.