Monday, November 14, 2011

Are Football Fans Just Crazier than Baseball Fans?

I was watching the Patriots – Jets game last night. What a fine game. As with any sporting event, the cameras were on the crowd almost as often as they were on the field. They showed a great many fans, and suddenly it hit me. These fans were dressed like lunatics. I think the one that pushed me over the edge was the guy wearing a hat with a rather large toy jet strapped to it. I don’t recall ever seeing anything like that at a baseball game. I wondered why. When the fine Mariners blog Section 331 was talking about crowd noise in Seattle, someone commented that they liked the quiet in Safeco. It’s not like it was a Seahawks game, after all. Clearly there was a distinction drawn between the rowdy football fans, and the more restrained baseball fans. Hmm.

Of course, there are exceptions. The Red Sox have the K-Men show up at Fenway. They dress funny. They yell. They chant. They hold signs. But, they’re the minority. Take a look at the picture at the top of the blog. It’s a nice shot of a large portion of Section 36. They all look pretty normal. Nobody is wearing a sock over their head. There are no Red Sox dreadlocked wigs. Nobody is dressed like a vampire. And, these are the bleachers. They’re great diehard fans. They’re not quiet businessmen sitting looking at their ipads. They’re into the games. But, they’re not loons.

The best explanation I can come up with is simply the number of games involved. Maybe it’s easy to get all dressed up for a maximum of eight home games per year. Maybe you just can’t wear a plane on your head 81 times without taking a long hard look in the mirror. Or is it the times of the games? Most baseball games are on a weeknight. Is it just too hard to come home from work, eat dinner, and then spend two hours putting on make-up before heading to Fenway? Is everyone just out of practice, so they don’t even do it on the weekends?

Is it the perceived position of the crowd as a 12th man that makes people go nuts? The crowd at a football game actually thinks that the amount of noise they make affects the game. The crowd gets all excited when a false start is called on the visiting team, like it was all because of them. So, in order to get all whipped into a lather like that, do you need to wear a mask and chew on a dog bone?

Even in the playoffs, when everything is ramped up a bit, baseball fans look normal. Sure, at the World Series people are wearing so much new gear it looks like the World Series logo threw up on them. But, it’s still just down to shirts, pants, and jackets. No skeleton masks. There are even some great cheers that resonate through the park. “Where is Roger?” “Manny’s Hitless!” “Just Say No!” The Fenway fans can get loud. They can support their team.

They just do it without the silly hats.

1 comment:

  1. I think the level of physical intensity in the stands matches that of the field. I think of it as tribal warfare. Football is war, fans feel they are part of the team, so their getups are an intimidation strategy. Baseball is more like chess (not a perfect comparision...); you don't need to intimidate your oponent in chess, you just need to strategize better.


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