The Dark Side of Fandom

Dedicated sports fans put a lot of energy and time into their favorite teams.  We read about them, cheer for them, dress up in their colors and defend them to our friends, explaining why we will still make playoffs even though we know there is realistically no shot.  Our teams matter to us.  Many of us look forward to weekends because we want to watch our team.  Mondays are a lot easier to tolerate if our teams win but it is worse than a bad hangover if they lose.  As a sports fan myself I understand all of this, I feel awesome after a great win and feel sick after a horrible loss.  But in our country there have been multiple incidents that make me truly embarrassed to be a sports fan – and it has nothing to do with wins or losses.

This year, the Houston Texans are a struggling football team.  Picked by many to contend for a Super Bowl title this year, they are off to a 2 – 4 start after getting blown out by the Rams on Sunday.  They have been playing bad football and experts are scratching their heads as they can’t figure out what is wrong.  However this past weekend the Texans weren’t the real losers; their fans were.

Down 31 – 6 late in the third quarter, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was sacked and went down after suffering an ankle injury.  As he was helped off the field, not to return to the game, the Texans fans cheered.  To me, this absolutely crosses the line and it is flat out wrong.  It is one thing to boo your favorite team when they play poorly.  While I do think there are too many negative fans in sports, booing to let your team know you don’t approve of their play isn’t something I like but it is something I can tolerate.  But cheering when a player gets injured is wrong, it takes something that is supposed to be fun and entertaining and turns it into something dark and sadistic.

Schaub was not trying to sabotage the Texan’s season.  I would bet he has been working harder than anyone to try and figure out how to turn it around.  For Texans fans to rejoice in his injury shows a complete lack of character and class in Houston.

[pullquote align=”right”]Losing is a part of life – it happens to all of us.  But losing graciously is something I’m afraid we have forgotten how to do in this country.  Being loyal to a team doesn’t mean kicking them when they are down, it means supporting them when their backs are against the wall.[/pullquote]

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident, but I cannot.  Last year the Kansas City Chiefs fans in Arrowhead did the exact same thing when quarterback Matt Cassel went down.  No NFL city is above this; I am sorry to admit every other city would do the same thing if placed in the same situation.

Losing is a part of life – it happens to all of us.  But losing graciously is something I’m afraid we have forgotten how to do in this country.  Being loyal to a team doesn’t mean kicking them when they are down, it means supporting them when their backs are against the wall.  If a fan doesn’t like the direction their team is headed or who the quarterback is that is fine, they can express that opinion but as fans we must keep sports in perspective.  Never are things so bad that it is ok to be happy when a player, a fellow human being, gets hurt. I wish Schaub a quick and speedy recovery so he can get back to competing for his job. I hope fans around the country and especially in Houston would wish the same — after all, it’s only sports.