So, you want to be a sports fan. If you were not born wearing the jersey of the team that your family has followed for decades, beginning to follow sports can be intimidating, but it’s not as daunting a task as you may think. To help you on the journey, here are five easy steps to become a sports fan.
Step one: Choosing a sport
If you are just starting out, it’s best to stick with one sport. While one of the North American “Big Four”—baseball, basketball, football, or hockey—will probably be easier to follow from Montreal, don’t be afraid to follow a sport that is more popular internationally, like soccer or cricket. You can also try something more niche, such as fencing or Quidditch. If it calls to you, watch it.
Now you have your sport—let’s say you picked hockey. You are eager to get started, but the NHL has five games tonight, and you have no idea which to watch. This brings us to step two.
Step two: Picking a team
The NHL, to continue with our example, has 31 teams. You might have an idea of which one you want to follow, maybe your home city’s team. It’s also fine if you have no idea. You can pick the team with the best logo or name, or the team that you heard mentioned on an episode of Bones years ago. You could pick the team that won the Stanley Cup last year, or the one that’s the favourite to win this year, because, despite what you might have heard, there is nothing wrong with being a “bandwagon fan.” If a team is popular, they’re probably fun to watch, so go for it.
Since this is Montreal, let’s say you pick the Habs. Now it’s time to move on to step three.
Step three: Watching a game
If you are worried about learning the rules next, don’t worry: You will learn more from watching a game than you ever will from staring at a rulebook. Having a friend you can pester with questions at every whistle is also very helpful. If you like history, some research can be fun, but you are not a “fake fan” if you can’t list every time the Yankees won the World Series.
Going to games is a great experience. Major league games can get prohibitively expensive so consider going to a minor league or university game—The McGill Tribune is particularly fond of the McGill teams. The feeling of being surrounded by an arena full of fans cheering for your team is unparalleled.
Whether your team won or lost, you probably learned a lot from that first game. If they did lose, you might be questioning whether you made the right choice. This brings us to step four.
Step four: Learn to love losing
Teams lose. It happens. Not even the best teams win all of their games. But losing can have its benefits: Commiserating with fellow fans about a loss is almost as enjoyable as celebrating a win. Complaining about your team is a time-honoured tradition in most sports. You can also find bright spots in losses. Maybe a player you like snapped a goalless streak, or your team took fewer fouls than they did last game.
Through losses and wins, you’ll experience a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s now time for the fifth, final, and most important part of this process: Step five.
Step five: Have fun!
Despite the billions of dollars invested into sports, their ultimate purpose is to provide entertainment. At the end of the day, watching a game should be fun. Remember that, and you’ll do fine.
Congratulations, you’re a Certified Sports Fan! Welcome to the club. We’re happy to have you.