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Fan Loyalty and the Unconditional Love of Fans

People change jobs, get divorced, and may even convert to a new religion. But can a fan really ever leave their club behind? It seems not.

Most fans chose a club during their childhood. Perhaps, you start supporting your local team, maybe you just like the colours or jersey, or perhaps you just pick the top team at that particular point in time. Over time, you study the team, get to know all the players, and become the expert in all team-related issues. A true love develops as the weeks go by, and the team suffers defeats and celebrates victories. At this point, you are sure to have a jersey and various team paraphernalia, and you probably know all the team formations, injury lists, and you can intelligently contribute to team tactics and player choice. Each day, you read team news, listen to the critics and defend your team whenever you get a chance.

Your passion continues into adulthood. You spend every weekend following your team’s fortunes, you may even attend the odd home or away game, get involved in some sports betting, and queue up for autographs. No matter what happens, no matter what manager is at the helm or how badly players perform, you stick with your team. Unconditionally.

Then, one day, your team sells your favourite player, sacks a manager you like, and generally seems to be disintegrating. You stop and ponder switching your loyalties, simply because you cannot take it anymore. In your head, you go through a list of teams, you’ve also admired over the years. You think to yourself, what the heck, I am going to switch team. You pick your favourite among the teams you also like and ditch all your beloved team gear.

Somewhat relieved, you look forward to the next set of fixtures, intent on ignoring your former team’s endeavors. To your surprise, the weekend passes without incident. You are quite happy to rejoice at your new team’s victory or even lament a bad performance, at least you got away from the misery of supporting your old team. Weeks go by and only occasionally do you feel a slight twinge in your heart when you hear your old team mentioned. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, until the day your old team plays your new team.

In your mind, you support your new team but not before long, your heart skips over to old allegiances, and you cannot help but go back to your old love and stop kidding yourself. By the end of the game, you are ready to dig out all the old team gear and once again love your team unconditionally. For better or worse.

Subsequently, you know that trying to switch teams is simply not possible. Why? Somewhere along the way, your team became part of who you are. Your team’s fortunes have contributed to who you are today. You have been ecstatically happy and down in the dumps, but it’s all part of your story – a story you share with thousands of other supporters.

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