Sport Fan Signals

Wayne Norman on what sports fans signal:

  • Hey! you and I like the same team or sport, so we have something important in common… and maybe more; or at least we don’t have to fight each other.
  • Hey, you like a different team than me: we have to fight!
  • Look at me, I love this team, I bleed their colors, whatever you think about this team (and its brand) you can think about me.
  • You may think of me as a serious, professional, no-nonsense kind of person (or a nerdy anti-social kid…); but look, I’m passionate about this sport, so I’m actually a more normal, approachable person than you thought. …

Even couch potatoes who watch most of their games at home alone on TV feel themselves to be a part of a shared cultural experience. What happens in the game matters to them in part because of all the ways it matters to others. It may form part of their discourse with others at work or elsewhere; but even if it doesn’t they participate in a simulated discussion through debates shows on TV, and whatever they can read in papers and blogs.

While I can see that some folks might want to say such things about themselves, I don’t feel much inclined to say such things about me.  Which I guess helps explain why I’m not much of a sports fan.

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  • Captain Oblivious

    I think you’re a little too “into” signaling… I like watching (some) sports, simply because I like seeing what people can do. I mostly watch at home, alone, and rarely talk to others about it because most people I encounter regularly are not themselves sports fans (and I don’t watch shows about sports, just the actual game itself)… so it’s not clear to me what I’d be signaling, or who I’d be signaling it to…

    Even Freud admitted that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar… maybe sometimes human behavior is just what it looks like – not some intricate attempt at signaling or some contorted modern manifestation of ancient evolutionary imperatives.

    • Since you mentioned Freud, I think you already understand that signaling doesn’t have to be conscious. But signaling also doesn’t have to be unconscious in the Freudian sense of unconscious motivation.

      For example, it could simply be that you just like whatever the people you respect already like. There is an unconscious process going on there, but it’s not motivation. Signaling is there simply because of the logic of signals as evidence of properties individuals possess

      For instance, I mix with a group of sports fans, and I have an automatic (unconscious non-motivational) tendency to like sports as a result. But I also have ambitions of being an academic, and academics don’t like sports, so I have tendency to not like sports. How these 2 tendencies balance out will automatically signal to which group I am more loyal to. On the receiving end of these signals, sports fans and non-sports fans automatically “know” how much I’m loyal to each group by having the unconscious-non-motivational process of not liking those who don’t like the stuff they like. Notice in all these going-ons, nothing motivational is required!

      Finally, this is not to deny your point that sports watching is fun! Simply that fun and signaling are not mutually exclusive.

      But yeah, Robin is probably wrong in thinking that he doesn’t like sports because he’s not interested in signaling those features about himself. It’s more likely that he simply mixes with folks who are not into sport.

  • bellisaurius

    Is not signaling that you are a fan of some team (not wearing team colors when others are likely to, for example) a neutral signal, or an anti sports signal?

    If it is just a neutral signal, then how does one get the point across to avoid feeling uncomfortable during the normal casual conversation?

    If it’s an active signal, then how does one avoid looking like they’re saying “I dislike what you like”?

  • Charlie

    ” It may form part of their discourse with others at work or elsewhere; but even if it doesn’t they participate in a simulated discussion through debates shows on TV, and whatever they can read in papers and blogs.”

    I find this applies to not just sports, but also politics and economics.

  • OhioStater

    Fantasy football is to beta males what video games are to omega males. There’s definitely a shared community of men gathered around the water cooler talking about which play ran for 150 yards, and which hated team came back to win.

    Whiskey had a post at his blog observing network television is dominated by female oriented shows, and I observed the main exception is sports. A lot of white guys have no reason to watch sports dominated by black men, but it’s still better than watching Glee.

  • Isn’t it possible to signal disinterest in sports?
    I suppose it would be inconclusive. I’ve noted many “nerdy” guys who surprise me by launching into spiels about their favorite team or the playoffs.

  • dave

    Maybe people just like watching sports. Its exciting and interesting.

  • lemmy caution

    Sports are a pretty neutral signal. Lots of men like them so it is pretty easy for men to talk about sports with other men. It makes a good baseline for conversations since there is always new information that people can impart or controversies to work over.

  • Where can I find a Causal Type declaration ?
    I have little respect for dialectics. There is an enormous set of ways to mischaracterize an event let alone an aggregate of events.

    dwc [url=]RMCM™[/url]
    God bless

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