Do You Follow Teams, Players, or Storylines?

Being from the state of Alabama, I have grown up my whole life not really having a dog in the fight.  We do not have any major professional sports teams in our state.  Sure, there are fans of professional sports teams that live in Alabama, but their passion doesn’t match the passion that is exuded over college sports—particularly college football.  Literally, during bowl season, the Alabama television markets are by far the biggest watchers of even the most obscure bowl game.  However, this is an article about professional sports, so let’s get to the point so that we can begin discussion.

There are supposedly three (3) major sports leagues in the United States; though I’d argue that there are only two (2)—the NFL and the NBA.  Given that, people follow those sports for a variety of reasons.  Below of the three main reasons:

(1) Team | If you live in metros like Boston, San Antonio, or Denver, then you follow your particular teams because you live there and are immersed in the frenzy all year long.  Also, transplants of those types of metros tend to follow their favorite teams even while in another state or country.  Then of course, you have the random fans who follow teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers even though they aren’t even sure what state Pittsburgh is actually in (it is Pennsylvania, for the record).

(2) Player | Blame it on unrestricted free agency, fiery fantasy sports, or wholesome hometown pride, but individual players or sets of players are followed now more than ever.  Our favorite players connect directly to us through Facebook and Twitter—connectivity that fans from the 1980s and 90s could only imagine.  Heck, some of these athletes even have their own mobile apps!

This individual player fandom is probably most prevalent in the NBA, but it can exist in other sports too.

(3) Storylines | Do remember last year’s NFL season?  There were people who have hated Peyton Manning since his freshman year at the University of Tennessee who all of a sudden were pulling for Peyton Manning.  Why?  He had a great storyline.  He was trying to achieve the impossible—come back from a near career-ending neck surgery and win a Super Bowl in perhaps his final year in the league. All eyes were on the Denver Broncos.  So many eyes that even casual fans were paying attention.  Be careful though: fandom of this genre tends to have the briefest shelf life—once the amazing story is over, the fans disappear.

So what type of fan are you? Why? #teamfan #playerfan #storylinefan

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3 Comments
  1. I used to be just a team follower, but I’ve become a bit of a player follower as well. I was born into an Auburn family because of so many alumnis. So I grew up following Auburn. I never had a pro team to root for since, like you said, in Alabama, the passion of sports is saved for college football.

    Now that I’m in Madison, things have changed. I’m surrounded by people who are passionate about both the Badgers (college) and the Packers (NFL). They are both teams from my state, and the Badgers are from my city! That passion has rubbed off on me. In Alabama, the state was divided as far as teams go. In Wisconsin, people are unified. It’s a lot of fun.

    As for the player following, I find that people follow a lot of players in the NFL and not just the NBA. Why is this? I never saw a lot of it with college football. Why pro? I’ve found that it’s easy to admire a player who has a history with a team. In college, they are only there for a handful of years. In the NFL, they could be with one team until retirement! Donald Driver just retired, and he was a HUGE fan favorite! He was with the Packers for 14 seasons! Quoting Driver, “I played my entire career in Green Bay and have always enjoyed a special bond with the fans.” They even put up a monument in Green Bay for him. On the other hand, fans love to see rising stars as well. A fan favorite right now for us Packer fans is Randall Cobb. I’m excited to see his career unfold as he gets more seasons behind him. :)

    So yea, I used be just a team follower, but ever since I started paying attention to the NFL, I’ve become a bit of a player follower as well!

  2. I follow all 3. During the season, I obviously follow my favorite team. However, I find myself watching every team to see how rookie A or player A is going to do. The offseason is pure story line driven. I have no action to watch, so I have to grasp a hold of something!

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