After talking about wind-oscillators, Dictionary.com defines "fan" as "an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.: a baseball fan; a great fan of Charlie Chaplin." Synonyms are listed as "supporter, enthusiast, partisan, booster, addict."
Of course, the root of "fan" is "fanatic".
I started thinking about this after an exchange I had on the gamethreads last night. Berated for being too optimistic and wearing rose-colored glasses, I replied
I’m rooting for my team in spite of the problems.
I recognize the team is struggling. I root for them anyway.
To me, this is the quintessential essence of being a fan. It's being those people at the beginning of "Major League" at the Indians games, KNOWING they suck, but you go anyway. It's rooting for your team day in and day out.
I am not blind to the difficulties this team faces. I tend to lean towards wanting them to fix it from within, rather than bringing in outside help, because the only really tradable people on the team are valuable, or unproven or both, so we're not likely to get enough in return for them, or we need them to stay right now. I defend those players who have struggled with passion, and, in fairness, I am suspicious of players who may be supplanting my favorites. I would like Milton Bradley a lot less if getting him had meant benching Dome. I dislike Miles not only because he doesn't seem to be playing well this year, but because I perceive him as having replaced DeRosa. I don't dislike Freel because I perceive him to be a stand-in for Rami, not a threat to him.
I'm very negative towards people who are negative about this team. Yes, the pen needs help, but they're getting it in the form of Marshall, if Harden ever gets back. Yes, we have little pop, but Lee is improving, Bradley as well, and I (perhaps irrationally) hope that when Rami gets back, he'll be 100% and raise this team on high. I have the faith of the converted that Soriano will go on another tear and carry the team for two weeks.
I want this team to get better. I want the Cubs to go on a mad, crazy run. I want last year back.
I also recognize that other people are fans in different ways. I'll argue interpretations of statistics (I still don't think Marmol is struggling because he's overused, for example) but I understand that other people react differently than I do. I won't agree, but I do understand.
But I'm a Cubs fan, and I have my team's back. Slam Z for being a baby, and I'll dispute it. Denegrate Bradley for not talking to the press, and I'll support him. Complain that Fonty is too short, and I'll expect you to supply him with elevator shoes. And I have my fellow fans' backs too. Troll the boards, and I'll flag you. Steal money from my friends, and I'll expose you. Scream, and I'll make sure you reap what you sow.
Because I'm a Cubs FANATIC. They are my team, through thick and thin. When they play over their heads, and when they play under the gutter. When they win the division, and then get swept in the conference series. When they get no-hitters and when they blow no-hitters. And some day, when they go all the way and get those rings.
Worf is right. No one has the right to tell you how to be a fan. And this is the kind of fan I am.
Fanatic: a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal.