Fans are the lifeblood of any sport. None of it works without people who care about it. You can have teams, and you can have players, but if nobody is invested in the results, there’s no point to any of it. So, in summation, fans are important, and fans are great. At least a lot of them are. A lot of fans suck, too. That’s why for this week’s Friday Five, I’m ranking the five worst college football fans. No, not by teams, but by specific archetypes of fans we all come across.
I guarantee you that as you read through this list, you will have two reactions. The first will be to get mad at me because I’m going to describe you at some point. The second will be realizing that all of us fit at least one of these descriptions to some degree. Some of us take it to a greater degree than others, but if we’re honest with ourselves, some of these tendencies will hit a little too close to home. Because we’re all The Worst, really, but some of us are better at being The Worst than others; The Best Worst, if you will.
So let’s rank the types of college football fans that are the best at being The Worst.
5. Message Board/Social Media Insider: Every single fan archetype I considered for this post can be found on a college football message board or social media. After all, those are places where college football fans can congregate and discuss their common interests, so you’re going to run into all different types. But when they all get together, a new kind of fan emerges.
The Insider. The person who is not a member of the media, but knows a guy who knows a guy, whose cousin goes to the same barber as that five-star recruit’s older brother, and he says that the QB is going to commit to our school next week. The Insider typically becomes an insider by being correct about something once. After this happens, the Insider develops disciples who blindly follow his tips, even though he hasn’t been right about more than 10 percent of them since that initial vision. The Insider continues to give “inside info” because people pay attention to them when they do, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re right or wrong, it’s that somebody cares enough to listen.
4. Your Bias Fan: It is not the Your Bias Fan’s — called this because they don’t know the difference between Your and You’re, nor do they realized bias is a noun, and biased is the adjective — fault they’re this way. It’s a natural byproduct of the sport itself. College football didn’t become the national sport it is until recent decades thanks to television. For a long time, the only programs any college football fan cared about was their own as well as their rivals. Media coverage of their teams was local. Anytime you get local media coverage, there’s going to be some bias toward the local team. When it comes to radio or television broadcasts, they’re almost exclusively directed to the local fans because why wouldn’t they be?
So imagine this fan goes from homer-rific coverage of their favorite team to their team all of a sudden being on a national broadcast. Suddenly, the other team is no longer the enemy. The announcer even dares to sound excited when the other team does something well! This announcer is clearly bias! The announcer hates their team! Why else would he not be disgusted that they just scored? The announcer has spent the entire game talking about the other team, and has not even once mentioned my team! Everyone is out to get us! This is not just limited to announcers, but national media members and radio hosts as well. Perhaps we’re a generation away from fans realizing what’s going on, but it’s still being passed down genetically. It could be a while before Your Bias Fan becomes a relic.
3. Pay The Players/They’re Already Paid Wonks: This doesn’t just include fans, it includes media members, too. Hell, a lot of the times the media members are far more vocal on this topic than the fans, but all of them are the worst. Some people believe that the players who make up the sport don’t get nearly enough compensation compared to the value they bring their respective schools. Others believe that the scholarships and other perks the players receive are more than enough. These fans are not The Worst. These fans may disagree with one another, but they’re reasonable about it. They realize there’s a middle ground, and possibly a solution of sorts that could work for all parties.
The Worst fans are the ones who will tell you that being a student-athlete is indentured servitude while pretending that the scholarship and perks that come with being a student-athlete provide no value whatsoever. The Worst fans are the ones who tell you that the scholarship is more than enough, and then pretend that a free hoodie or 12 is a fair trade for the millions of dollars these players generate. The Worst Fans aren’t interested in a solution; they’re only interested in the argument and being “right.”
2. Angrily Tweets At Recruits Fan: There are some good things about social media. It brings people who would have otherwise never connected together. It allows us all the chance to get perspectives we may have never seen on our own. Unfortunately, it’s also a hellscape from which there can sometimes be no escape. So, you know, win some, lose some. Anyway, there’s some gray area to Tweets At Recruits Fan.
As an adult human being, I am confused by the desire to talk to a high schooler online. I was pretty much done talking to high schoolers the moment I got out of high school. I don’t think we have a lot in common, and I don’t need to relate to them. That said, I get why some fans tweet at recruits. They care about their team, and they know their team needs good players to win, so they want to “show love” to those high schoolers in hopes that they’ll go to their school. I don’t know how many recruits pick schools because of this, but I get it. The positive fans are strange to me, but they aren’t The Worst. The Worst Tweets At Recruits Fan is the one who angrily tweets at teenagers who choose to go to other schools. That person is The Worst. If you’re that person, stop being that person. Seriously, go outside for a while. Take a walk. There will be other teenagers, and some of them will play for your team.
Of course, while you’re The Worst, there’s one who is worster.
1. Takes It Way Too Seriously Fan: There’s likely a lot of crossover between Angrily Tweets At Recruits and Takes It Way Too Seriously Fan. Now, when I talk about a Takes It Way Too Seriously Fan, I’m talking about your Harvey Updyke types. The people who will poison trees in the name of rivalry, and do so thinking it makes them a hero. Updyke is an extreme example, yes, but these fans exist in smaller ways. Sometimes it causes them to tweet at recruits, coaches or players angrily. Sometimes it causes them to yell about announcers hating their teams. Then there are times it leads to them making excuses for a coach or player doing heinous things. Takes It Way Too Seriously Fan is lost in the woods, where all that matters is the football team and everything else is just noise. Takes It Way Too Seriously Fan might punch another fan just because he’s wearing the jersey of another team. Or dump a beer on the head of a player because they play for the wrong team.
At the end of the day, we all love this sport. It’s one of the best sports in the world, and it has many flaws. But it’s still just a sport. It’s fine to feel emotionally connected to it. That’s what being a fan is. Without that connection, there aren’t fans, and without fans, there’s no sport to care about. But Takes It Way Too Seriously Fan is a side effect of that connection. One who makes it harder for everyone else to be a fan and makes it harder to be around Takes It Way Too Seriously Fan. If your fandom makes it harder for others to be fans, then you’re The Worst By Far.
Honorable Mention: The Elitist, The Eternal Optimist/Pessimist, Costume Fan, The Apologist, I’m Just Here To Party Fan