Help Me Feel Like A Fan Again.
May 13, 2014 12:15 PM   Subscribe

When I was in college, watching my college's basketball team play brought me joy and catharsis. I really identified with the players and felt like we were "all in this together." As an adult nearly 10 years out of college, that feeling eludes me. The players look like kids! When I travel to the games the alumni section is staid and boring! If you are a fan of your college's basketball team (or really, any college b-ball team), how do you maintain the interest, and feel passionate about the game, as an adult?

I love the technical elements of basketball and enjoy seeing sheer athleticism on display. However, without the feeling of "this basketball team is representing ME!" or "if John doesn't sink this 3-pointer ALL IS LOST!" watching the games feels very clinical and removed. Because I don't identify with my alma mater as strongly as I did as a student, I don't see a game as "us vs. them" in the way that I did at 18-22.

Which is probably normal and healthy -- but I miss the enjoyment I got as a fan! Nowadays the only time I get some of that high is during the NCAA Tourney when I usually pick a few teams that I like (I get very pulled into human interest stories) and then root for them.

I live halfway across the country and don't hang out with any alums of my college (I'm pretty busy and already have established social groups). I'm not a sports bar person and neither is my (non-alum) partner. Why and how do you maintain ties to college sports as an adult?
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in North Carolina, home of the insane UNC/Duke/NC State rivalry, and from what I can tell, interest is mostly maintained via (and for the purpose of) trash-talking fans of the other side.

I went to the University of Missouri, for example, and since I graduated in 1999 I probably hadn't watched a single game they'd played, in any sport. Until they joined the SEC, and my Alabama alum boss started giving me constant shit about how Missouri didn't belong in such a storied conference. It awakened all these residual "Go Tigers!" feelings I didn't even know I still had, and I watched enough of the football games last season to get involved with the players and feel that emotional connection again.

So: I think you have to hang out with or regularly talk about the team with people who went to your school or a close rival. It also helps if you're in a TV market that actually televises the games. My latent Kansas City Royals fandom has all but died since I moved to an area without any major league baseball team at all.
posted by something something at 12:31 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I suggest that you get into women's basketball. The WNBA is surprisingly intimate.

It's a small league, so you can really get to know the players, and it's super affordable to go to home games.

Husbunny is absolutely NUTS about the game. He's sort of a rock star journalist in the WNBA realm these days, but he started out as a guy who wanted to support the home team. Now he gets invited to scrimmages, team get-togethers, and other things. The team sent him a thank you note last year!

I think because women athletes are underdogs that you can get happy about being at a game in person, and it's easier to follow everyone's career. Give it a try. You may find you really enjoy it!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:59 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I live all the way across the country from my ACC alma mater, and I had a fairly long period of time where I didn't have TV or internet at home, so I kind of drifted away from paying attention to my school's exploits (although, as a Virginia grad, there really wasn't much to follow) aside from going to a local bar to watch the lacrosse team in the NCAA championships (this isn't some exaggerated sense of fanhood here, I played lacrosse in high school).

Since Virginia games don't get shown on TV as much as Duke or UNC, especially on the west coast, I've generally relied on the internet - a lot of games for the ACC get covered on streaming video on ESPN, and I can listen to streaming audio of the games that don't. In a pretty big way, this has rekindled my interest in seeing them play and I feel like a fan again, but it also helps that I have friends from school that I'm in pretty regular contact with and we usually discuss the games, however briefly, after they take place. It also probably helps that Virginia's basketball team has been getting steadily better the past few years and way outperformed expectations this year. Anyway, I think I saw more Virginia games this year than I did when I was in school.
posted by LionIndex at 1:10 PM on May 13, 2014

I don't know if you have instagram or twitter, but I try to follow the college athletes of the team I love on social websites because it lets me connect to those athletes and gives me a sense of knowing what is going on in their lives.

Many of the college football players aren't household names (aside from a select few) and they put "everyday" stuff up, like their friends or family or food.

This makes it more fun and involved when I watch games because "GO SMITH GO, YOUR MOM IS SO PROUD OF YOU AND DECKED OUT IN GEAR RIGHT NOW!" "YAY JACKSON, I KNEW ALL THAT TRAINING THIS WEEK WOULD PAY OFF." Also, you get to see how happy they are when they win games and it ends up making me enjoy the victory all over again.
posted by whitetigereyes at 1:54 PM on May 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Duke alum here. I understand what you're going through, and feel the same way. I chalk part of it up to "adults level out emotionally"- I'm more even keel as a person now, my rabid fandom is tempered as a
result. Also, there's a lack of novelty. You've seen so many seasons,
its hard to get AS psyched about another.

It's probably the same phenomenon that makes little kids WAY more exited about Christmas than adults.
posted by slateyness at 5:25 PM on May 13, 2014

You have to hang out with other alums to watch the games. It was never about the game, you just thought it was. It was the shared experience with your friends and fellow students. I was the local alumni President for a while, then moved away and didn't have the connection, and my interest waned. When my kids got old enough to become fans and started watching games with me it all came back.
posted by COD at 6:33 PM on May 13, 2014

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