By DEXTER IRVIN
UH-Hilo athletic director
How do sports fans become sports fans?
At the risk of oversimplifying everything, I believe most fans become fans because of our culture, where we currently live or go to college, and our level of athletic participation at some time in our life. Opportunities to interact socially, watch our children/grandchildren, or just give us something to do as our society urbanizes, are also at the top of the list.
Why am I a sports fan? For many of the reasons I mentioned before, but the preeminent reason I watch sports; to be inspired. I want to see a team or an individual do something that I cannot do and perhaps something that has never been done before.
Why am I a True Fan? Because our students, and the people that work with them, inspire me!
During my career, I have seen many so called fans come and go. If the team wins they are fans, if the coach is a favorite or a friend they are a fan, if we get a new President, (or athletic director) they become fans, if they get the right seats or parking place they are fans, if the booster club is good they are fans, and on and on and on. The truth is; it is easier NOT to be a great fan, than it is to be one. After all, excuses and whiners are easy to come by, and depending on your perspective, maybe legitimate, but none of those reasons fulfills a need to be inspired. I suspect that many times our pride gets in the way and keeps us from being part of something that is great!
In my 35 years of athletics, I have also seen many fantastic fans. Any game of any kind and a true fan is there. Coaches may change, but true fans are still in the stands. Perhaps the music is too loud in your gym or arena, a true fan is still in the stands. Somebody in your reserved seat, ask’em to move and enjoy the game, still a true fan. Your school joining the NCAA or a new conference or league, tough move, will require some sacrifice, but still a true fan. Athletic director always asking for more money, (give him some) and STILL a true fan. Some idiot coach or player misrepresents your school or town, still a fan. You see a true fan is an attitude, an attitude permeates and defines us as individuals, and that attitude has multiple parts. Want the real recipe for a true fan? Take one part orneriness, one part loyalty, one part love for sport, and one part of “The School Spirit.” Now you have the real deal, a real live, walking talking, wacko smacko, True Fan. A true fan can be students, alumni, community member, old booster, new booster, corporate sponsor, moms, dads, kids, professors, staffers, and all lovers of your school. Just shed that old skin, make some time, and become a true fan.
Remember it is easier to NOT be a great fan than to be one. Working hard, playing hard, and overcoming obstacles, are all characteristics that we teach our student athletes. These students are learning the same characteristics that were, and are being used, to build our community. So paint your face, get off your duff, buy a T-shirt and come to a game.
You may be surprised who else is looking to be inspired!