Today was supposed to be a Pro*file but I wanted to do this instead--sorry, Johnny. (One more day, buddy.) I'm thinking (hoping) this one might hit a nerve or two. That's not why I'm doing it but I wouldn't mind if it went that way.
I'm curious as to what makes a person a fan. I don't mean the usual stuff; schools, alma maters, hometowns, city or state pride or family tradition. I get all those. And I'm not talking about the Johnny-Come-Lately fanboys or the bandwagon jumpers. Not just any kind of fan. More specifically a fan of a paintball team. What makes a person a fan of a paintball team?
I sorta understand idolizing certain players. When they play for successful teams or their names appear (appeared) routinely in all the magazines and are featured in gear catalogs or advertisements it's easy to see that name recognition alone plays a role. Then there's word of mouth and those featured on paintball DVDs. And I suppose the same applies to teams at least in some measure but liking a player is different from favoring a team. (Don't argue with me, it is. It just is.)
But here's where I get lost. Most paintball fans seldom if ever actually see their "favorites" actually play and compete. How can you be a fan under those circumstances? And when rosters routinely change you're no longer, necessarily, a fan of the same players even if the team name goes on. How does a paintball team merit fans? I'm seriously interested in how y'all might explain paintball fandom. The one thing I know it isn't about is good paintball. (Which holds true in other sports as well.) The reason is most fans, dare I say most players, have--at best--only a passing acquaintance with the qualities of performance excellence. What I mean is most fans don't know good when they see it. They know flashy. They only see the highlight reel. How does the self-identified fan choose one team over another when they have so little to go on? How does that work?
What is the strange alchemy that creates the paintball fan?