A few months ago I read a really good blog post (which, of course, I can't find now) that made me think. What it argued was that the love of sports is no different than any other sort of fandom. That what sports fans do really isn't very different from what Buffy fans, or comic book fans do. Hell, they even wear makeup and stuff. It made me wonder if my negative reaction to people watching sports has anything to do with sports itself or is simply that it's not my fandom.
If so, then maybe I should cut sports fans a bit of a break. I mean I don't get pissed off by any of the other fandoms I don't share. If I even met a bronie I'd just be like "oh, that's weird, but whatevs."
And, I want to think this way and give sports fans a pass - because I like people being interested in different types of things. If everyone liked what I like life would get pretty boring pretty quickly.
The problem is that after a lot of soul searching I just can't make that link. Sports fandom does have a lot in common with other fandoms, but it also has a lot of things that make it different.
1. The way it pushes other activities out of the way on a regular basis. Imagine this, after work every day you are used to going out and having a couple quite drinks while reading the paper or a book. Now imagine that randomly you suddenly wouldn't be able to because that place - and every other place near you - would suddenly be full with loud, drunken Buffy fans pushing and shoving each other, screaming at the top of their lungs and calling you a "faggot" if you don't show interest in Buffy and just want to read your book in peace. That's exactly how sports fans react when there is a "big game" on - and a big game can be almost anything as far as I can tell.
2. The way it doesn't police the assholes in the community at all. Yes, the vast majority of sports fans are not violent homophobic assholes. But the ones who are are really bad. And people just sort of accept it as par for the course. Violent, sexist assholes happen in other fandoms as well - but I've seen a lot of people working hard to make sure that doesn't happen at conventions or whatever. When it comes to sports fandom, not so much.
3. The way being a member of sports fandom rewards you the way other fandoms don't. Let's face it, if you can talk about the local team at the water cooler at work in an enthusiastic way your career prospects are higher. You have given a higher level of value within the patriarchy and that is rewarded.
4. The fact that sports fandom hurts the actual players. Look if some actor on Buffy was being ordered to do something by the creators that was putting their lives in danger on a regular basis fans would go nuts and demand it stop. Yet when football players go onto the field they are routinely ordered to do things that have been shown to have a direct link to degenerative brain disease.
5. Sports fandoms are started in high school and college and take resources away from other activities directly related to learning. I've never seen a school keep outdated history textbooks to support The Buffy Fan Club, but they do so all the time to support the football team.
This is not to say that sports fandom is evil. There are certainly a ton of super nice sports fanpeople. But, it's a different animal than non sports related fandom and I do think it should be looked at as potentially more prolematic.