Definitions

Fan_(person)

Fan (person)

A fan, aficionado or supporter is someone who has an intense, occasionally overwhelming liking of a sporting club, person, group of persons, company, product, work of art, idea, or trend. Fans of a particular thing constitute its fanbase or fandom. They may start a fan club, hold fan conventions, create fanzines, write fan mail, or engage in similar activities.

In a few cases, individual fans may become so fascinated with the objects of their infatuation that they become obsessive. These fans engage in behaviors that are considered extreme or abnormal This includes idolatry or other forms of worship, such as creating a personal shrine dedicated to the idol at one's home, and can sometimes extend to the point of the fans becoming stalkers.

Etymology

There is some confusion as to the origin of the word fan. Paul Dickson, in his Dickson Baseball Dictionary, cites William Henry Nugent's work that traces it to fancy, a 19th century term from England that referred mainly to followers of boxing. It was originally shortened to fance then just to the homonym fans. The word emerged as an Americanism around 1889. Many assume that it's a shortened version of the word fanatic, and the word did first become popular in reference to an enthusiastic follower of a baseball team. (Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1525, means "insane person". It comes from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning "insanely but divinely inspired". The word originally pertained to a temple or sacred place [Latin fanum, poetic English fane]. The modern sense of "extremely zealous" dates from around 1647; the use of fanatic as a noun dates from 1650.) However, the term "fancy" for an intense liking of something, while being of a different etymology, coincidentally carries somewhat the same connotation as "fanatic".

Supporter is a synonym to "fan" which predates the latter term and as such is still commonly used in British English, especially to denote fans of sports teams. However, the term "fan" has become popular throughout the English-speaking world, including the United Kingdom. The term supporter is also used in a political sense in the United States, to a fan of a politician, a political party, and a controversial issue.

The term "krank" (or crank) is a now-obsolete term for baseball fans in particular, and also carried much the same connotation as both "fanatic" and "fancy", of devoted attachment to something, in this case a team.

Characteristics of a fan

There are certain common characteristics to be found in fans interested in different topics and that these characteristics influence the behaviors of those involved in fan behavior (Thorne&Bruner 2006).

Those common characteristics include (Thorne&Bruner 2006):

  • Internal involvement. Fans focus more of their time and resources intently on a specific area of interest than a non-fan would, and are not significantly concerned if non-fans (including family or friends) don't derive pleasure from the area of interest. Fans usually have a strong enough interest that some changes in their lifestyles are made to accommodate devotion to the focal object.
  • Desire for external involvement - are motivated to demonstrate their involvement with the area of interest through certain behaviors (attending conventions, posting online, etc.)
  • Wish to acquire - fans tend to express a strong desire to possess material objects related to the area of interest.
  • Desire for social interaction with other fans. This again may take many forms, from casual conversation, e-mail, chat rooms, and electronic mailing lists to regular face-to-face meetings such as fan club meetings and organized conventions.

There are several groups of fans that can be differentiated by the intensity level of their level of involvement or interest in the hobby (level of fanaticism)

The likelihood for a subject of interest to be elevated to the level of fandom appears to be dictated by its complexity. Complexity allows further involvement of fans for a longer period of time because of the time needed to work the subject of interest 'out.' It also contributes to a greater sense of belonging because of the mental effort invested in the subject. This could be why sci-fi is so popular, some fans feel the need to work out all the scientific kinks in these programs. One example for Star Trek is that a group of fans designed blueprints for federation starships.

Fan vs. fanatic

The difference between a fan and a fanatic is that while both have an overwhelming liking or interest in a given subject, behavior of a fanatic will be viewed as violating prevailing social norms, while that of a fan will not violate those norms (although is usually considered unusual).

Types of fans

Teen idol fans

These fans will commonly hold a crush on a major star, athlete or celebrity (common examples include Mariah Carey, Madonna, Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, and Britney Spears (see teen idol)). This can range from a simple crush to the complete belief that the celebrity is either madly in love with the fan, or will fall madly in love with the fan once she or he lays eyes on him/her. In extreme cases, this can lead to stalking behavior.

Sports fans

Sports fan can describe enthusiasts for a particular athlete, team, sport, or all of organized sports as a whole. The Sports fans are often seen attending sporting events or following them on television, as well as through newspapers and internet websites such as ESPN.com.

The mentality of the sports fan is often such that they will experience a game, or event while living vicariously through players or teams whom the fan favors. This behavior manifests itself in a number of different ways, depending on the venue.

At a stadium or arena, sports fans will voice their pleasure with a particular play, player, or team by cheering, which consists of clapping, fist-pumping, or shouting positive exclamations toward the field of play and ultimately, the favorable object. Likewise, displeasure toward a particular play, player, or team is met by fans with jeers, which consist of booing, the shouting of expletives, and in occasional, extreme cases, the throwing of dense objects onto the field of play in the hopes of injuring a particular participant. This end of fan reaction may often degenerate into hooliganism. It should also be noted that lighter, more harmless objects are also occasionally thrown onto certain fields of play as a form of celebration of a favorable sports feat. This is most common when a member of the home team scores a hat trick in hockey. Other, more mild forms of displeasure shown by sports fans at sporting events involve simple groans of disappointment, and silence. These actions often denote that the favored home team is being outperformed by, or has lost to the much less-favored road team.

At sports bars, sports fans will gather together, often while consuming food and alcoholic beverages, with the purpose of following a particular sporting event on television as a group. Sports bars often advertise in hopes of drawing fans of a particular player or team to watch together to increase bonds between fans and prevent fights. This can create the sense of unity in a sports bar as all cheers and boos will appear to be synchronized due to similar feelings and reactions by nearly all fans at the fortunes and misfortunes of the favored team or athlete. Due to the level of devotion and intensity of feeling towards the favored team or athlete by sports bar patrons, as well as partially due to the alcohol being served, behavior that would be seen as unruly or fanatical outside of a sports bar is generally more common inside of one. The intensity of cheering and jeering at a sports bar by sports fans can often range from equal to stronger than that of fans actually at the sporting event for particularly significant games and matches.

In ones own home, sports fans may have the smallest amount of shared company but also the greatest degree of freedom. This is sometimes where the most intense cheering or jeering will take place among particularly devoted sports fans depending on the company they keep for such an event. In the case of particularly frustrating and disappointing moments in sport for such a fan, many have reported such extreme reactions as punching a hole in the wall of the house. In the fan's own home, unbridled and lengthy screaming, crying, acts of destruction to household objects, and other manifestations of joy or anguish, are perhaps seen as most acceptable in comparison to the sports bar or sporting venue simply because such acts taken to such an extreme can be seen as disruptive to a large number of fellow fans even if they share the same sentiment if it is of less intensity. The greatest variables of the reaction of a sports fan in their own home are the intensity of the fan's desire to see their team win or perform well, and the presence of another: often a wife, children, or friends who may be significantly less ardent sports fans or not sports fans at all, which may significantly temper the fan's reaction to a highly positive or negative moment due to the fear of causing a scene or scaring those close to the fan, or alienating themselves from said others. Often sports fans will invite other fans of relatively similar rooting intensity over to their house to experience a sporting event together so that all involved can voice pleasure or displeasure to their heart's content and increase shared bonds in the process.

Professional wrestling fans

Fans of professional wrestling can be divided into two groups; marks and smarks.

Mark

Derived from the same term used to describe the prey of conmen, a mark is a professional wrestling fan who believes that everything associated with pro wrestling is real, rather than recognizing the existence of kayfabe (that is, it is a work).

A mark can also refer to a devoted fan, either of a particular wrestler, wrestling company, or the sport itself. A mark is also someone who believes everything about a certain wrestling organization is good. This type of mark tends to overlook bad decisions that the organization makes (or to cast said decisions in a positive light) and overreact to the good ones.

Smark

A smark ("smart mark") is a wrestling fan who understands that the outcome of a professional wrestling match is pre-determined, is privy to the behind-the-scenes operations, and enjoys following the on-screen product as well as the off-screen, backstage affairs. "Smark" is abbreviated professional wrestling slang for "smart mark". Many smarks are part of the "IWC" (the Internet Wrestling Community), a general term for wrestling fans who use the Internet as their means of fan-to-fan communication. Smarks define themselves by embracing the "workrate", or talent level, of wrestlers. Some opt to spite the celebrated "big men" in favour of smaller, faster wrestlers with a wider variety of moves. They typically overlook those whom they see as wielding too much power backstage and support underdogs who they feel have been overlooked by management.

Science fiction and gaming universes

Fanboy/fangirl

Fanboy is a term used in America to describe a male who is utterly devoted to a single subject or hobby, often to the point where it is considered an obsession. The term originated in comic book circles, to describe someone who was socially insecure and used comics as a shield from interaction, hence the disparaging connotations. Fanboys are often experts on minor details regarding their hobbies, such as continuity in fictional universes, and they take these details extremely seriously. The term itself is often used in a derogatory manner by less serious fans of the same material. Nevertheless, self-labeling usages of the term have been noted; in the songs of the fannish parody musician Luke Ski, many characters proudly consider themselves fanboys. The term is usually applied to people in their teens or 20s. Within this group, common objects of deference for fanboys are TV shows, movies, anime, cars, video game consoles, video games, Music, operating systems and in earlier decades home computers, MMORPGs, ISPs and software companies. Similar to the term fangirl, fanboy is commonly used in a derogatory sense to describe a male's obsession with something, most commonly a cartoon, videogame, female video game/anime character, or an aspect of Japanese pop culture.

The term fangirl can be used to describe a female member of a fandom community (counterpart to the masculine "fanboy"). Fangirls may be more devoted to emotional and romantic aspects of their fandom, especially shipping. However, it is commonly used in a derogatory sense to describe a girl's obsession with something, most commonly a male teen idol or an aspect of Japanese pop culture. Fangirl behavior can vary in intensity. On one end of the scale are those that, while harboring a crush on a particular actor or character, are perfectly capable of understanding that the fulfilment of the crush is never going to happen. On the other end are the girls who are said to be obsessive in their claims on a fictional character, even fighting with other fangirls over who 'owns' the character in question. Fangirl behavior can fall anywhere in this spectrum, but the closer someone is believed to be towards the obsessive end, the more derogatory the use of the term 'fangirl' to describe them is perceived to be. Fangirls of all persuasions are believed to be the largest contributors to fanfiction websites, sometimes disregarding the canon storyline of their fandom or altering it to fit either their own favored romantic pairings; or themselves into the continuity (termed self-insertions or Mary Sues).

Big Name Fan

A Big Name Fan is a fan who has achieved notoriety and respect within a fandom for their contributions of various sorts. Big Name Fans in some fandoms may have fans of their own and be asked for autographs.

Otaku

In Japan, where the term otaku originates, it is applied to fans of almost any topic, including anime/manga, the military, trains, etc. The term in Japan is derogatory (at least to those outside the otaku subculture), but with such works as the popular Densha Otoko, this may be changing. In English, the term Otaku has been adopted almost exclusively to describe fans of anime, manga and related materials. It also lacks the derogatory overtones it has in Japan.

Trekkies

Trekkies, the oldest group focussed around a particular show, are fans focused on the Star Trek science fiction franchise.

Gaming fans

Gaming fans (gamers) are fans focused on gaming, usually role-playing games, board games, miniature wargames, collectible card games or computer games.

Fan psychology

Drivers for sports fans

The drivers that make people fans, and in particular sports fans, have been studied by psychologists, such as Dan Wann at Murray State University. They attribute people becoming fans to the following factors:entertainment:Sports spectatorship is a form of leisure.escapism:Being a fan gives one an excuse to yell at something, an activity that may be constrained in other areas of one's life.a combination of euphoria and stress for which they coin the name "eustress":Fans experience euphoria during moments when play is going well for their team, and stress when play is going against their team. This generates pleasure.aesthetics:Some people are fans simply because they appreciate the aesthetics of the game, such as the precision or skill of play.family bonding:Fans going on a family outing to watch a sports event form a psychological bond with one another as a family.self-esteem:Fans identify with their teams to the extent that they consider themselves successful when their teams have been successful.

Loyalty

Fan loyalty is the loyalty felt and expressed by a fan towards the object of his/her fanaticism. Allegiances can be strong or weak. The loyalties of sports fans have been studied by psychologists, who have determined several factors that create such loyalties (in addition to the factors that make people fans in the first place). Fan loyalty can be threatened by team actions.

References

See also

External links

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