It’s no surprise that our society has an intimate relationship with the idea of football. Such as it were, it’s gotten to the point of near cult-like worship to the sport itself, filled with fanatics of all kind. With the way we treat football through massive events and media coverage devoted to the game, why then do we tend to shun similar passions in comparison?
Take the idea of fandoms for example. By the technical definition, the word “fandom” can refer to, “the state or condition of being a fan of someone or something,” or, “the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture.” Think about those two definitions. Can one not use the same concept for football? Or any other sport for that matter? Sure there’s a few differing words here and there, but the core message ends up remaining near-exactly the same.
So why then are fandoms treated with a stigma? Because let’s be honest, people who subscribe to fictional fandoms and people who are invested in sports usually don’t gel well together. More often than not, someone who displays interest in a topic that is not a sport is considered a “nerd” by others. And these nerds are generally those who enjoy fictional fandoms over sport, even employing the use of nicknames to identify themselves. Potter Heads, Whedonites, SPN Family, and so on and so forth; the list goes on.
Both fandoms and sport fans consist of individuals who are completely obsessed with the topic of choice. Both possess a wide variety of sub-groups under their influential arch and both seem to carry an air of charged energy about them, or, “hype”. With all of these close similarities between fandoms and followings for sports , why then are they treated with a sense of radical difference?
Perhaps it’s because society is just more accustomed to the presence of sports groups? By all means, there are cases of extreme fanaticism witnessed by both sides. It’s not unheard of to hear about the drunk sports party that went wrong, but these days that sort of tale has become too common. It’s almost as if we as a society have accepted it to be the norm and thus treat it as such. And if we have come to accept it as the norm, that further reflects how far done our society has sunk over the last few years.
Compare it to a radical event involving a fictional fandom. When the 2012 Aurora Shooting took place, the story spread like wildfire with many acting as if they had never heard of such a tragedy before. At the time, the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” soon came under fire for influencing its fans into partaking in these violent outbursts; this was in in part due to the massive violence portrayed within the film. Thus, it’s not difficult to see a correlation from the media’s perspective. Is that then the difference between the effects of a fandom and a sports fan?
It would certainly explain why fandoms are generally looked down upon with gazes of skepticism. When a fight breaks out in a football stadium, there’s usually no mention to what may have caused the violence to manifest; but when something drastic happens that involves our favorite television show, or book series, or video game, or what have you, suddenly that particular series comes under scrutiny by the media and the usual morality guardian.
In that regard, it makes perfect sense why fandoms are treated with extra grains of salt. Fandoms have become a very convenient scapegoat in the face of tragedy, something that is very rarely questioned upon in the realm of sports. That’s not to say sports have never avoided criticism before, what with the arguments of concussions to our holy and sanctioned football. But the extent of which we question its validity is nothing compared to the after-effects that a fandom could potentially leave behind.
So what then could we do to solve this issue? How do we as a society learn to integrate and accept fandoms more readily like we have done for sports? Perhaps the answer is as simple as waiting. After all, people who have obsessed over sports have easily been regarded as the social norm thanks to time as shown by our social compliance with their antics. While it may take more than a few years for it to develop, history tends to repeat itself in patterns and thus there’s no doubt that fandoms will soon be given this treatment as well.
Still, that may not be satisfying for some, especially given the vast negative results that can come about from both interest. In regards to that downside, balance is needed to keep healthy fascination and support from dipping into harmful obsession. Because of course, there’s nothing more terrifying than a society that has accepted radical and violent behavior as a social norm.
But thankfully we’re a good distance away from that point, so long as critics of both passions exist. So in the meantime, enjoy the heated debates between a Potter Head and a soccer fan. Enjoy it while you can before the mass assimilation happens and we all become mindless Cybermen who will approve of any action and anything. And I do mean anything.