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Sports Fans: The Eight Stage Fan Happiness Spectrum

By Edited Jul 23, 2015 1 6
Doug Martin signs an autograph for a young fan
Credit: wikipedia commons - United States Marine Corps/Sgt. D.R. Cotton

Where is Your Team on the Fan Happiness Spectrum?

You know how it feels when your favorite team is bad.  Your disappointment and misery feel even worse when you're around fans of a great team.  They don't hope for wins, they expect them.  Those fans discuss your favorite team as if it was composed of lepers.  In this instance, you and the other fans are on opposite ends of the fan happiness spectrum.  The unhappiness from being on the lower end of this scale can last for decades.  In the most fortunate instances, smug satisfaction can also be passed on from father to son.  Who are these fans and what is this fan happiness spectrum?  I'll describe the spectrum for you and provide examples from the NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA football.

Arrogantly Expects Championships

This group of fans has enjoyed long term success and they know it.  They expect their team to win.  Not just win, but win everything.  They are smug to the point of obnoxiousness.  They are

Miami Heat Finals Banner
condescending when talking about any other team.  Everyone else stinks in comparison to their team.  As they make you aware, they are the top of the spectrum.

Some of these fans are the beneficiaries of current dynasty type teams and they are completely correct in their assessment, although painful to the rest of us.  Their team is that darn good.  Unfortunately, some fans trade in past glory and seem to be unaware of their teams' deficiencies.  These fans are annoying, yet comical.  This is a subcategory of arrogant fans, those that are arrogant and out of touch.  They will move down the spectrum in due time.

Arrogant and Correct:  Miami Heat,[1] San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, St Louis Cardinals, Alabama Crimson Tide.

Arrogant and Out of Touch:  Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Florida Gators, USC Trojans.

Giddy with Glee

This group has just won a championship or is on a run to win one.  Their team may not have enjoyed long term success (or success was well in the past) but appears on the verge of being

Oklahoma City players
great.  These folks burst with pride and happiness.  They are not condescending when talking about other teams but do point out how their team is better than yours.  Fans of other teams can still stomach being around them, unless they are the fans of direct rivals.

The Giddy Group:  Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida State Seminoles, Ohio State Buckeyes, Auburn Tigers.

Happy and Hopeful

These folks cheer for a very good team that appears on the upswing.  Their team may not have a recent track record to allow a negative view of all others; however, they are relentlessly positive of the prospects for their guys.  Going to games is fun and full of hopeful anticipation.  Good things are expected to happen but a bump in the road is seen as a growth stage in the march toward a championship.

The H and H Bunch:  Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco 49ers,

James Harden
Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, South Carolina Gamecocks, Clemson Tigers.

Bored But Generally Content

This type of fan base likes their team, yet is not overly excited.  This position on the fan happiness spectrum is still positive, but the needle lies close to the negative area.  Going to the games is worthwhile and fun because the team still wins its share.  Boredom has set in because prospects for domination or achieving a championship are dim.  These fans are not obnoxious.  They might not even talk much about their team.

Content But Bored Examples:  Atlanta Hawks,[2] Dallas Mavericks, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Wisconson Badgers.

Watchful and Wary

The best description of these fans is nervous.  Their team isn't bad, but storm clouds are on the horizon.  The team could rally and become better or could go down the drain.  These fans will talk about their team with a hint of fear in their voices.  They certainly are not angry.  They are more fretful.  These fans have dipped their feet into the negative area of the fan happiness spectrum.  They aren't irate, yet they have a vague dissatisfaction.

Watchful and Wary Fans:  Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, Washington Nationals, Michigan Wolverines, Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Angry and Loud

This group wants to fire everyone associated with their team.  They expected a decent team and got a klunker instead.  The head coach, the assistant coaches, the players and even the water

Mike Woodson
boys are on the chopping block.  These fans hate the state of their team and want an immediate shake up to turn things around.  Conversing with anyone from this group can be scary.  You are afraid to upset them further by even mentioning your team because they'll start ranting again.  This group of fans is fighting to get out of the negative portion of the spectrum, but seems more inclined to pull others down with them.

Angry and Loud Examples:  New York Knicks,[3] Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Phillies, Georgia Bulldogs, Tennessee Volunteers.

Wallowing in Misery

The miserable fan group has endured long term losing.  They no longer curse at their team.  What's the point?  They dread going to games and expect to lose.  These folks can give a littany of reasons why their team never does well.  Talking to them is time consumming and depressing.  They go on and on about their dim prospects for success.  This group is beaten down and they know it.  They don't pull others down, they can't look up.

Wallowing Fans:  Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Browns (charter members), Washington Redskins,[4] Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Kansas Jayhawks, Kentucky Wildcats.

Lovable Losers
Wrigley Field

These are known as Chicago Cubs fans.  They inhabit their own special category.  Their team stinks and will always stink.  Nothing ever changes.  They are proud of their love of the team and flock to Cubs games to swill beer and cheer.  Wrigley Field is hallowed ground to be enjoyed and worshipped.  These fans are always a delight.  They love their team even when they shouldn't.

Some may quibble about my examples in each category.  I am sad to say my favorite NFL team resides in the Wallowing in Misery group.  I hope that changes, but I'm not banking on it.  Maybe next season will be better.

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Feb 18, 2014 9:18am
I'm guessing you're either a DC fan or a Browns fan...yes?

I enjoyed your article, and found it quite accurate, except for one franchise. You got the Timberwolves right, but you missed on all the other Minnesota teams. Fans of our Wild hockey team and our college Gophers hockey team are also watchful and worried. The Vikings were angry and loud before their head coach got fired. Now they are watchful and worried. Twin's fans are wallowing in misery except they don't dread going to games. We have a nearly new stadium that's really cool so we don't dread Twins games right now, even though they blow...

We do have a championship women's professional basketball team: the Lynx. They don't fit any of your categories because not enough fans attend their games to rate a category. Sorry ladies.

Feb 18, 2014 11:02am
Yes, I'm a Redskins fan. Now, even the name is bad! Plus, we used to "win the off season" with the latest free agents at the end of their prime. We don't even do that anymore now. I thought of this article because I used to scream at the TV as the Skins lost another game, Now I sort of whimper and otherwise accept their fate.

I didn't include hockey in the article because I don't know the teams well enough.
Feb 18, 2014 12:20pm
I couldn't have done hockey either, or baseball.

You 'Skins fans can't catch a break, what with the name controversy and the RGIII/Shanahan controversy - ouch. At least you have a decent draft pick this year, don't you. Y'all didn't trade it away I hope...
Feb 18, 2014 1:14pm
Yes, the Rams own the #2 overall pick from the RGIII trade. The Skins do have some cap room now that their $30M cap penalty is over. Goodell dinged them for some shenanigans occurring during the uncapped year.
Feb 22, 2014 8:56pm
Very unique subject matter. I really liked the way you organized the groups.
Feb 24, 2014 6:44am
Thanks. I was thinking one night how my fan attitudes changed over time and the article subject matter just sort of popped out at me.
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  1. Bacon "The Most Stereotypical Miami Heat Fan Of All Time Has Been Found…It’s Justin Bieber." totalfratmove.com. 4/6/2013. 1/03/2014 <Web >
  2. Jason Walker "The NBA Nation is bored with the Atlanta Hawks." peachtreehoops.com. 23/4/2013. 1/03/2014 <Web >
  3. Gabe Zaldivar "Thanks to Knicks' Atrocious Start, We Have This Wonderfully Funny Fan Rant." bleacherreport.com. 11/12/2013. 1/03/2014 <Web >
  4. Monte Burke "The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year Of Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder." forbes.com. 9/12/2013. 1/03/2014 <Web >

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