because I said so

    The world is full of fair-weather fans, fake fans and casual sports enthusiasts.

    There is another breed of people out there who are in short supply. They are the ones who provide the life blood of the sports world.

    They are the few, the proud — the sports fanatics.

    I, myself, am proud to say that I am a sports fanatic. I have a select few teams that I follow religiously throughout the year. I bleed their team colors. I feel the joy of victory and the agony of defeat along with the mighty warriors for whom I root so blindly. I curse at them for stupid personnel moves and praise them when they land a big-name free agent.

    Honestly, I don’t think that my life would be complete without these teams.

    There are many people out there who claim to be true sports fanatics, but fall miserably short when put to the test. The ones that infuriate me the most are the fair-weather fans. These are the fans who root for whichever team is doing well.

    An example would be the masses who jumped on the Chicago Bulls bandwagon once the team started winning championships in the 1990s. These fans are easily identified by their inability to name more than three players on the team’s roster other than the stars.

    A true sports fanatic would be able to name at least three players off the bench in addition to the starters and head coach. I used to live in Northern California, and the thing that bugged me to no end was the masses of 49er fans in the area who didn’t know anything about the team. They would simply wear the team’s apparel and bask in the glory of its victories, but were not true fans at all.

    Aside from identifying Steve Young and Jerry Rice, the vast majority couldn’t even name another player on the team. Personally, I think that being a fair-weather fan should constitute a felony offense, punishable by five years in jail and having to root for the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.

    Another kind of fan that really gets to me is the fake fan. These are the schmucks that say that they like a team just to fit in with a crowd. The fake fan is distinguishable from the fair-weather fan in that the team that the fake fan claims to root for does not have to be on top.

    The most common type of fake fans are women who want to impress guys by acting interested in sports. This is their first mistake. They will only look more foolish once the guy starts asking them about the team and the girl has no clue what he is talking about. Ladies, just admit to the guy that you know nothing about sports and go from there. Ask him to tell you about his favorite team instead of trying to pass yourself off as a true fan. This will give the guy a chance to show off and showcase his expertise on his favorite sports team, and it will put you in his graces for showing an interest in something that he is so passionate about.

    The last kind of impostor is the casual sports enthusiast. While I don’t understand these people, they are the ones that I have the least amount of beef with.

    These are the people who don’t really follow particular teams, but will watch sporting events if they are on television. Occasionally, these types of people will attend events with friends and enjoy the atmosphere. While I personally don’t see how a person could hold back and not get completely engrossed in the sports fanatic world of following a favorite team, I can only say, “”to each his own.”” Casual sports enthusiasts do not claim to have a vast knowledge of sports or a particular team, so they are OK in my book.

    Now that I have described the others, let me get down to the nuts and bolts of what it actually takes to be a true sports fanatic.

    You have probably seen these people at sporting events on television. These are the fans that go to football games shirtless in near-freezing temperatures. They are the season-ticket holders who haven’t missed a home game in years. True sports fanatics not only know about the present year’s team, but also know about the team’s history. True sports fanatics have followed the same team for a number of years. They have been through the bad times as well as the good.

    Personally, my teams are the Lakers (basketball), Padres (baseball), Chargers (football) and Bills (football). These are the teams that I have followed religiously for the past 10 or 12 years. I know that under the present circumstances, I might seem like a fair-weather fan by rooting for the Lakers. Let me just say that I can name the Lakers’ entire 12-man roster, the three guys they have on the injured reserve, and the names Sedale Threatt, Anthony Peeler and Cedric Ceballos are still fresh in my mind. I can also name the starting lineup and a few reserves from the Showtime days of Magic and “”Big Game”” James Worthy.

    For those of you who have read this column and found yourselves in one of the first two categories, I urge you to pick a team and stick with it. Get to know the players and the team. I think that you will find that it will increase your enjoyment of watching sports. For those of you who are casual sports enthusiasts, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    However, I also urge you to convert to sports fanaticism. It’s really a blast. Finally, for all of you sports fanatics out there: Keep up the good work.

    Because I said so.

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