MY “FAN”TASY WORLD
by Anton Wills-Eve
Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.
MY “FAN”TASY WORLD
Yes I am a sports fan, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, because I follow most sports with a deep and admiring passion. Also I am a sports fan in the specific sense that I support particular teams and sportsmen and women above others in many different sports. I have also enjoyed playing a lot of sports very competitively, some very well, myself.
But I am afraid that I cannot discuss the subject of ‘fandom’, as the prompt setter requests, for the word does not exist. Shame really because the true lover of sport actually lives in a FANtasy world. Think about it. As a supporter of any team or person the true fan gets far more fun out of making up their own version of what will happen before a contest in which they see their heroes winning, than having to live in the real world where no side or contestant ever wins every single time they play!
But being a fan only reflects what one would like to happen. The real sports follower is the person who actually supports their team or player by going to watch them, paying out money to be there and savour the moment be it glory or despair. But I am too ill now to go to live sports events and have to watch my heroes and heroines on television. But I still get worked up. My doctor says dangerously so and has banned me watching some sports teams in case they make me ill. If Scotland win a rugby international, Jenson Button wins a formula one motor race or Neil Robertson a snooker tournament I get quite animated and have to take tranqilisers. This applies to specific tournaments as well. The golf and tennis majors get me very uptight just because of their importance, and as for the Olympic Games, winter or summer, it’s the quest for British or Australian gold that turns me to jelly.
Now I live in a family where we are all as bad as each other. My late parents were cricket, soccer and rugby mad, my sons are keen followers of everything sporting and my daughter-in-law cannot get enough track and field, gymnastics or tennis. I support Surrey at cricket and my wife Lancashire. Believe me when they play four-day long games against each other twice every summer not only do we have the daily eight hour, ball by ball, commentary on our separate tablets, but we hardly exchnge a civil word! You really can get that involved. Luckily we both support the same sides in everything else or our beautiful marriage would not be anything like as idyllic as it is.
But I have to admit that I really do place a large percentage of the greatest moments in my life on sports fields or in arenas and at circuits where great deeds have been performed. And of all the sporting moments I have seen and gone over the moon about in 67 years the greatest is still back in October 1960. It was when Bill Maseroski hit that home run off the last pitch in the last inning of the last game to give the Pirates a 4-3 world series win over the Yankees in the greatest contest in any sport in my lifetime. Odd, isn’t it, because I have never been to a baseball match or played the game, but the fire my Pennsylvanian uncle put in my belly when talking about his team lit up like a beacon as I followed those seven games on the radio when I was at university in Paris.
I wish I understood what motivates sports FANatics. I mean just imagine my calm, sedate wife leaping six feet in the air off the lounge sofa and pumping the air with both fists when Button came from last to overtake the entire field in the last few laps and passed, the then unstoppable, Sebastien Vettel on the last corner to win that year’s Canadian Grand Prix motor race. That’s not love, it’s not charity – heavens only knows what it is. But if you suffer from bouts of human reaction at sports events like we all do then you know what I’m talking about. I just wish I did.