Football: identity or entertainment?

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by ivanvamp, Feb 19, 2012.

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  1. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

    It should go without saying, since I'm posting on a football discussion board, that I love football - primarily, professional football (of the NFL variety). I'm curious to know, from it's biggest fans (like what I would find here), whether you view your NFL - and particularly, Patriots' - fandom as an identity or as entertainment. Here's what I mean.

    Identity: I am all wrapped up in Patriots' football. I live, breathe, sleep it. When they win, I am elated; when they lose, I am crushed. I talk smack to fans of other teams and proudly wear my Patriots' gear around. I am fully invested in the success of the Patriots from an emotional standpoint. I *am* Patriots football.

    Entertainment: I love watching the NFL and, specifically, my favorite team, the Patriots. I enjoy the drama of athletic competition. I am amazed at what these athletes are able to do (like watching Gronk flip on his head for a TD). I thoroughly enjoy Patriots' wins and am bummed about Patriots' losses, but in the end, all I ask is that I am entertained - that they give me a good effort and make my investment of time worth it.

    So, full disclosure. I used to be more on the "identity" side of things, but after the 2007 Super Bowl, I have moved towards the "entertainment" side of things. It's not that I'm disinterested or unaffected by the outcomes of Pats' games. I just don't live and die by it like I used to. For my money, the Patriots, over the last 11 years, have provided me with unparalleled sports entertainment. They not only win a lot; they win in spectacular fashion. They have had some of the best players doing the most exciting things. It is the very best form of "reality" television. You don't know the outcome, but just like I'm not crushed if one dude from Survivor doesn't win, I'm not crushed if the Patriots don't win (though, obviously, I'm more emotionally connected to the Pats than to a Survivor contestant, for example). I may be really disappointed, but not crushed.

    I do not think there is a "right" answer to this: I just know that for me, the move towards "entertainment" has been good for my health. :D
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  2. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa Supporter Supporter

    Ivan, interesting thread, and interesting that you used 2007 as an example. SB 42 was just the end of the freaking world for me... but I might quibble a little with the "identity" tag. I guess I might be quibbling for no reason... in 2007 it really did feel like being a Pats fan was part of your identity, but so much more so because every story was either bashing you or calling you invincible. And then at the end everything -- EVERYTHING -- was hanging on that one last game. We invested a lot of meaning in it, but the actual meaning was exactly what it is every season - you win it or you don't, life goes on.

    I have to say I enjoyed SB 46. It was a hard-played and well-played game, with momentum shifts, weird bounces, etc. etc. etc. Someone had to lose it, someone had to win it, and the Gintz did (shudder) earn this one. So being able to see that might play into your identity/entertainment framework, on the "entertainment" side.

    But on the "identity" side: I can't imagine (for example) being able to say "hey I really enjoy how the Giants are playing, and they're on a roll... from this day forward I am a Giants fan, until the next time I switch over" (or Packers, or Niners, or whoever.) I also can't envision the next time the Pats hit 1-15 (God forbid,) thinking "what's the difference between 1-15 and 2-14?" in the last game. I don't think I could even really root for getting the top draft pick in that scenario, even though it might -- might -- be the "smartest" thing to hope for. (However, see Tim Couch)

    So I guess being a Pats fan is identity first, for me... but not so much that I believe my own wellbeing will be affected, other than irrationally, by the fortunes of the team. I just "act like" it will be, then it is, purely psychologically.
  3. Ron Sellers

    Ron Sellers 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

    I agree with PatsFanInVa that the literally daily Pats-bashing that occurred in 2007 caused me to become defensive, to the point where I shifted from your definition of 'entertainment' to 'identity'; at this point I'm back to 'identity'. I'm not sure exactly when that change happened, whether it was after the Pats beat the Broncos to quiet all those that loved to say 'one and one', 'haven't won since', a week later with the win over Baltimore, or perhaps sometime in the previous seasons when the team continued to be highly successful despite a nearly complete turnover in personnel on defense.

    I know for a lot of fans here there is an 'all or nothing' mentality where not only is every season that does not end with a parade considered to be an utter and complete failure of monumental proportions, but also think that any loss during the year means that somebody should be held accountable and lose their job, and that any play in any game that is not perfectly executed is a call for hours of venting. I have never been that fully invested in the team; to me those are simply unrealistic expectations.
  4. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe Supporter Supporter

    #61 Jersey

    Professional sports is a societal surrogate for tribal warfare (part of our DNA programming). Hence, it takes on a much deeper meaning than entertainment. The greater your inherent competitive nature, the more passionate you become about the team you identify with.
  5. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    #22 Jersey

    Without football I wouldn't know who I am.
  6. deters

    deters Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    #87 Jersey

    I've been a huge fan of football since I was a child. This is more than a game to me, its life. I literally get depressed when football season ends. I love both NFL & college and my life wouldn't be the same if football wasn't around. It is entertainment to me but is WHO I AM. :rocker:
  7. BoTown

    BoTown In the Starting Line-Up

    No Jersey Selected

    Sports is a huge part of my identity, particularly Boston sports. I've lived and died with my teams as early as I can remember. I dreamt as a kid going into battle with those teams and leading them to championships. The feeling of kinship towards these teams only grew with the rise of online media. But on the negative side it made things more personal. I'm more exposed to trash talking than I was growing up. There's a lot of nonsense aimed at the Pats by the media and public that I wouldn't be exposed to without the excess of Internet and television that exists today. I liked it better when I was blissfully ignorant of all the noise and the only thing that existed was the game itself. Today it's much more than entertainment but sometimes I wish it wasn't.
  8. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

    I understand what you're saying, but here's where I would differ. I am as competitive as anyone here - if I'm playing against you in something. Golf, basketball, chess...whatever. If *I* am competing, I am really competitive. But rooting for a team that I honestly have nothing to do with....I can't affect the outcome, I don't personally know any of the players, etc....I don't think my competitive nature impacts my entertainment/identity aspect as you suggest it should.
  9. PatsWickedPissah

    PatsWickedPissah Supporter Supporter

    Disable Jersey

    Been obsessed with Patriots football for ages since 1960. The loss in 2007 was horrific but I took the Jets W last year just as hard. That to me was intolerable and a major under achievement. I'm now OK with the disappointing loss this season as I feel that the team overachieved for its talent level. Trying to put Patriots football in perspective as "entertainment" is difficult although the healthy thing to do.
  10. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae Retired Jersey Club Supporter

    Disable Jersey

    It's entertainment
  11. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe Supporter Supporter

    #61 Jersey

    Yeah, but when you're in a stadium with other passionate fans screaming and living and dying with each twist and turn, the collective tribal element becomes palpable. You become "part of" what's going on and feel more invested in the outcome than otherwise would seem to make sense. Labeling it as entertainment suggests a certain detachment.

    I think it's OK to acknowledge it as more than entertainment while still keeping things in perspective. As suggested earlier I believe pro sports play a needed role in civilized society worldwide. It's part of the fabric of life.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  12. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

    Yeah, this is true. I mean, I'm definitely an active viewer - even more so when I'm at the game live. But I have to be honest...a really, really good movie gets me involved too. I can roll with the movie's emotional ups and downs. I know it's not the same thing, because football (or any other sport) is *real*, not just something on a screen.

    So I guess it's in-between identity and entertainment. But I tell you, I was an unhealthy person in the wake of the 2007 SB, and I just cannot live like that anymore. It was awful.
  13. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    #75 Jersey

    It's not an identity or entertainment, IMO. I call it my hobby of passion. I have other hobby's like golf. But football is a year round thing for me.

    Also being a hobby of passion it has to have a target and that target is the NE Patriots. So I don't "identify" with being a football/Patriots fan and somethings it's not entertainment, it can be hard work (reading up draft and FA prospect and searching for the right info on both), and it's certainly has it's highs and lows.

    Here is how "hobby" is defined:
    An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.

    So yes it an interest outside my occupation and family. But I'm passionate about it but I also don't want it to be my "identity" and certainly I don't want it to be "entertainment", like going to the movies or watching a TV show.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  14. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

    That's a pretty interesting way to describe it. I like it.
  15. RelocatedPatFan

    RelocatedPatFan In the Starting Line-Up

    I'm pretty much with PATSNUTme.

    If football stopped broadcastingtmorrow would my life be over? not by a long shot, but it sure would suck for a bit. But, ultimately my time and passion would be dumped to something else.

    Do my friends and coworkers know I'm a huge pats fan? Of course they do. Football has a certain ritual to it. so it's somewhere between hobby and a psuedo religion of sorts (though I'm not a zealot or extremist about it). Being out of the NE area, I guess I'm not surrounded by like minded fans as well.
  16. PittPatriot

    PittPatriot Supporter Supporter

    #11 Jersey

    26,000+ posts and this is just entertainment?

    I think about it and obsess over it enough that I would have to choose "identity" - more for ivanvamp's description than actual choice of word.

    Watching Friday Night Lights is entertainment…I don't let it ruin my week.
  17. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae Retired Jersey Club Supporter

    Disable Jersey

    Yes. I've been a computer and stats/data guy since I was a kid. I used to chart everything for my baseball team, and compile it on old-time Apple computers like the IIe. I didn't get into it as a career, so I'm able to enjoy it as entertainment.

    And if the NFL ever takes away the Super Bowl after playing the full season, I'll stop watching it just as I stopped watching MLB after they took away the World Series.

    As for the posts, I'm stuck in front of the computer(s) for hours on end, I'm a very fast reader and fairly fast typist, and I'm not the type who can only focus on one thing at a time, so posting doesn't really take much time.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  18. PittPatriot

    PittPatriot Supporter Supporter

    #11 Jersey

    Thanks…your number-crunching history is impressive. It probably helps to take some of the emotion out of game as spectators like me experience.
  19. PatsFanSince74

    PatsFanSince74 Supporter Supporter

    Thanks to the OP for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post and thread.

    It's a spectrum, I think, where we fans fall somewhere along the OP's scale between "Identity" and "Entertainment."

    As I get older, I think the old saying "All things in moderation" is relevant here.

    When I stepped back and observed my reaction to the loss after SB XLII, I decided that I had moved unhealthily far towards the "Identity" end of the Spectrum and had gotten too consumed by the Spygate/Perfect Season hype.

    So, I was pleased that, no matter how severely disappointed and saddened I was two Sundays ago, I was able to calm down quickly and acknowledge that the Pats had had their chances to win but had not taken them and lost to the better team.

    So, I guess I've tried to disengage a bit and move more towards the middle, balancing the "Identity" aspect a lot more with the "Entertainment" aspect.

    When folks came out here and attacked players for blowing off steam by dancing at a party after the loss, I think that's gone too far in the identity direction to the extent that another old saying comes into play: "Get a life."
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  20. sambam94

    sambam94 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    entertainment..unless you have to deal with NY fans. I took it more seriously when I was younger, now I realize that there are so many things that are more important, family, health, kids, ect. I still watch every game, but it's not life or death.
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