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The Zak Zone

April 25, 2012

Last week, I wrote about the importance of realizing that sometimes, in life, you're going to lose — or, your favorite professional team is going to lose.

Sunday, I found myself slumped on my couch, staring at the wall thinking, "The Penguins can't be done."

Tuesday, I awoke with the initial thought, "It's a great day for hockey," and sent my mom a text saying, "It just feels like the Penguins should be playing today."

But, alas, the NHL season — at least for my favorite team — has come to an end.

While I still plan on following the playoffs and watching when there's nothing I'd rather watch on television, the passion has been drained from the game — at least until next season.

An idea for a column arose while I watched that dreaded game and as the seconds dwindled off the clock bringing the Penguins season to an end.

Mostly, it started when I was yelling at the referees for not calling a penalty, when I clearly saw it.

But what it boiled down to was the different kind of fans one encounters. It reminded me of a friend who used to blame the referees for everything, and before long, I was thinking of folks I've known over the years and the different types of fans they are.

I hope this list brings you a bit of a chuckle, and I must say that while many of them seem to have negative connotations, I'm sure you see a bit of yourself in many of them if you call yourself a sports fan. I know I've seen a lot of them in myself at one point or another.

• The optimist: The optimist is more than likely a glass-half-full type in other areas of life as well. But her zeal for her favorite team carries over into saying things like, "The Penguins just may never lose another game!" Not such a bad outlook to have, but the scary thing is, she actually believes it.

• The pessimist: As you can probably guess, for every overly-positive fan, there seems to be at least one overly-negative one. One close overtime loss to the best team in the league has this fan saying, "Woe is me! We'll never win again!"

• The "what have you done for me lately" fan: This fan is much like both the optimist and the pessimist in his response to a game, but his ability to flip-flop is amazing. The day after a big win, he is all on-board with his team being the best in the league, but the very next day, after a tough loss, he's back off the train.

• The "one-and-done" fan: Despite following the team faithfully all season long — watching every second of every game — and knowing they're the top-ranked team in the country, this fan falls off the bandwagon after an opening-round playoff loss in a best-of-seven series. "That's it," he'll exclaim. "We're done. We can't do anything right. May as well just give them the trophy!"

• The hopeful optimist: Not to be confused with the optimist, this fan just doesn't know when to let go of a sinking ship. With his team down three touchdowns and the other team taking a knee with 15 seconds left, he's still sure his team will force a fumble and recover the two necessary onside kicks in between to get back in this game. "It's not over 'til it's over," he yells. He's wrong. It's over.

• The pessimistic pessimist: As you can guess, for every hopeful optimist, there's a pessimistic pessimist, as well. She nestles into her favorite "lucky" recliner to watch her favorite team, but as soon as the other team scores a first-inning run, she abandons the game and turns to the NASCAR race, exclaiming, "We're done! We never come from behind to win."

• The "sport" fan: Don't you dare put an 's' on the end of this sports fan's fandom. He's such a good fan of his sport — which he'll usually claim is "way more manly" than any of the other sports or some other wild claim — that he doesn't have time to tune into your "wimpy" ideas of sports. Ironically, though, he has plenty of time to bash your wimpy favorites.

• The "foot-in-your-mouth" fan: This fan talked a metric ton of trash to all her Facebook friends who root for the team that just shut her team out and left them crying for their mommies. Now, she's pulling excuses from every which direction to cover up the fact that her team just stunk it up. "If those refs would have called that pass interference penalty when we were down 42-0, I just know it would have turned the game around," she says. "Besides, the wind kept changing directions and confusing our kicker."

• The superfan: He has all the gear, has all the sports memorabilia hanging in his "man cave" and has been to every important game his team's ever played — or at least bought the commemorative tickets off the Internet. But he doesn't have the slightest idea why the referees blow the whistle when one guy rushes into the offensive zone before another. "What the heck is offsides," he exclaims. "Even though I don't know what it is, I'm sure we weren't in violation of that rule! I'll have to use my connections to see to it that referee is fired!"

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that without each and every one of these fan personas, watching the games wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

If I weren't occasionally the hopeful optimist or the foot-in-my-mouth fan, what fun would sports be?

These are just the first fans that come to my mind. Maybe you know some other types of sports fans you love — or hate. If you run into me this week, tell me your favorite sports fan, and maybe one day, there'll be a Part 2 to the sports fans list.

The reason I know these sports fans so well is I'm every one of them at one point or another.

So, until next time, enjoy being whatever type of fan you are, and please try to have mercy on the rest of us!

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