“Who do you cheer for?” This questioned once had a simple answer of whomever one’s favorite team was. In today’s world, however, fantasy football has changed the answer to this question. Instead of answering the question with a simple team name, the answer is now whomever is starting on someone’s fantasy team. Can someone be a true fan while cheering for that many different players from that many teams?
My answer is no.
A true fan is someone who is by their team and there favorite players on that team whether they go 0-16 or 16-0. It is someone who would never cheer for a player on a rival team or even cheer for a player who is on the opposing team in a certain game (I have seen fantasy fans cheering for both teams in a game but also cheering against both teams in a game, very confusing). A true fan cheers for his or her team and only his or her team.
Fantasy football has taken away the true fan by creating a desire for players on other teams to do well. It has changed fans from once feeling hatred towards another team to having fans feeling a sense of joy when that team does well. Also, instead of standing by a team through thick and thin, fans are getting angry at the team they consider to be their favorites, because they are not producing enough points for them in fantasy land when in fact they may be winning games in the real world.
As an example of this, let’s use the world champion Baltimore Ravens. A true Ravens fan would be insurmountably pleased after last year’s SuperBowl win, and even if they have started slow out of the gates, a true fan would stand by them and believe they could do it again this year. He or she would also be proud of the Ravens and only talk good things about the team and the players. Fantasy football has taken this pride and joy away from some fans. Fans now will get angry towards players for not helping them win the week for their fantasy team, even if their favorite team won the game. Ray Rice took to Twitter recently saying, “I was a fan of fantasy football until today so many spiteful and hateful words I still love you all God Bless great win today.” Despite the win, fans still sent Rice “spiteful and hateful words.” These are not true fans. Fantasy football has created football fans that no longer hold any loyalty to one team. Their favorite players and teams now vary year to year depending on who they drafted and how well their picks are playing. True fans still exist today but are getting increasingly hard to find as fantasy football becomes more and more popular. It has taken the loyalty out of fandom. It has created more fans of the game, but fewer fans to specific teams. Fantasy football has destroyed the true team fan, and has replaced them with fans of individuals. But only if they provide wins for their fantasy team.