The Rules of Football Fandom

I take being a Redskins fan very seriously.  Some would probably say too seriously, like myself.  I know I take it way too seriously.  A Redskins loss bothers me for two days minimum, and that’s if I didn’t watch it.  A watched loss bothers me all week.  It ruins my Sunday night to the point where I can’t sleep.  I think it’s best for everyone that I continue my current practice of watching very few Redskins games.  It’s better for everyone involved.

But I digress.  The point of this post is to illustrate certain universal truths, nay, commandments,  about football fandom.  These rules are very clear and simple, and yet are violated to a ridiculous degree.  We need to stop this from happening.  We must shame the transgressors, and if they insist on continuing, then we will be forced to bury them up to their necks in sand and throw rocks at their faces until they die.  It’s a commandment, whattaya gunna do?

Commandment 1: Thou Shalt Not Own Multiple Team Jerseys

This rule, like all of them, is straightforward and simple.  As a Redskins fan, I am not allowed to own a jersey for any other NFL team.  Any person who, for example, is a Packers fan that owns a Jets or Vikings Favre jersey is breaking this simple commandment.  Players DO NOT transcend team fandom.  Additionally, just because you have some kind of bizarre homoerotic man-crush on Kurt Warner does not give you the right or privilege to wear his jersey, if you claim to be a huge Jets fan.  It simply isn’t allowed.

Commandment 2: Thou Shalt Not Have More Than One Favorite Team

Again, this is a rule that should be very easy to obey.  You cannot say that you have more than one favorite team, allowing you to shunt onto another team as soon as yours is eliminated.  You are allowed just ONE favorite team.  This is the team for which you may own jerseys, calendars, blankets, and the like.  See Commandment 1.

Commandment 3: Thou Shalt Not Pull For More Than 3 Teams

This rule is not quite as simple.  “Pulling for” a team is NOT the same as a favorite team.  Instead, it connotes a team that you have some interest in and liking for, and when your own team is eliminated from contention, you are allowed to cheer for.  Now, there are additional rules around this, the first being Commandment 1.  Just because you pull for them does not mean you are allowed to own a single item that a fan of that team would own, no jerseys, hats, etc.

Additionally, two of these teams MUST be in the other conference that your favorite team plays in.  You are allowed to pull for these teams to win, specifically because they will not usurp your favorite team’s possible Super Bowl entrance.  Normally, this is restricted to one team only, BUT married people are allowed a second team if their spouse has a favorite team in that conference.  I call it the Rooney Rule due to Lady Aravan’s Steeler allegiance.  You are allowed to choose your pulling-for teams at will, unless you are married, where you MUST retain your spouse’s team.

Finally, after AND ONLY AFTER your favorite team has been eliminated from Super Bowl contention, you are allowed to select a team in your own conference to pull for.  This team is chosen on a season-by-season basis.

This may seem complicated on paper, but it is deceptively simple.  For example, my favorite team is the Redskins.  I pull for the Colts and Steelers in the AFC.  This year, I have selected the Packers to be my pulled-for team in the NFC.  Next year, I will continue to pull for the Colts and Steelers, but I must choose an NFC team based on next year’s playoff teams.

Commandment 4: Thou Shalt Not Post Any Cheering For a Non-Favorite Team

Be it Facebook, Twitter, or any verbal crowing, you are NOT allowed to make reference to any team but your FAVORITE team winning.  No Facebook statuses about the Jets winning unless they are your favorite team, EXCEPT as noted in Commandment 5.

Commandment 5: Thou Shalt Hate

You MUST hate at least 2 NFL teams.  Not dislike.  HATE.  You must greet any news of ill sort for those teams with a grin of triumph, NO MATTER HOW SEVERE.  For example: Philly fans cheered when Michael Irvin hurt his neck and was wheeled off on a stretcher, earning derision from pundits the world over.  THEY WERE CORRECT.  They hate the Cowboys, and MUST cheer their ill fortune.  A mid-air collision between the Cowboys and Patriots team jets would REQUIRE that I cheer myself half-unto death.  I’m fine with that.

Posting of Facebook, Twitter, or verbal engagement IS ALLOWED for the loss of hated teams.  Therefore, I cannot post cheers for the Jets winning UNLESS I am cheering the fact that the Patriots lost.  You should make it clear that it is hate you are espousing, but any verbal expression of joy for their loss is permitted.

You are encouraged to hate as many teams as possible.  It is understandable to have differing levels of hate, as long as hatred is present.  For example, I FUCKING LOATHE the Cowboys and Patriots.  I DESPISE the Giants.  I HATE the Eagles, Saints, and Ravens.

It is permissible to no longer hate a team ONLY if a significant change in team culture occurs (head coaching change, etc), UNLESS that team is in your division, in which case you MUST continue to hate them.

Now that these simple rules have been laid out, I want each and every one of you to do your uttermost to uphold them.  Shame your friends and family firmly when they transgress.  If they continue their blasphemy, then you are duty-bound to find fans that hate that person’s favorite team and form a Stoning Circle.  It’s for their own good.

About Alan Edwards

Former cancer caregiver. Husband of the most magical and amazing person who ever lived.

Posted on January 17, 2011, in Philosophizin' and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.


  2. Truth. Really funny, and very, very true. I have a hard time with people who can skip from team to team. I live and bleed purple. I am from MN, that is what we do. It kills me to see hardcore Vikings fans rooting for the enemy. The Packers have always been the hated team, and you all are pulling for them now?! Hell no! I despise fair weather fans…but then I also take the fandom and the game a bit too seriously. My only defense is that I love the sport. I just had this discussion with a friend of mine from NY on Sunday. Personally, I cannot stand the Jets or the Pats. Both coaches are disgustng, and several of the players on both teams are assholes. He reasoned that since we are pals, and he roots for the Vikes when he can, that maybe I should become a Jets fan. I don’t know if I can go that far. However, I did congratulate him on the victory, it was pretty awesome. To be honest, I like the Steelers. I even [gasp] own a Steelers t-shirt and one jersey (Greg Lloyd, Linebacker, #95).
    Rodgers is on fire right now, he is proving himself to be one of the best QBs the NFL has seen in years. Too bad he is on the wrong team!

    • I definitely can’t do rooting interests on request. One of my closest friends is a Jets fan, and I just can’t do it. So I delighted in the Steelers game end result – and of course didn’t watch it with him.

      It could be an interesting Super Bowl. It could also suck, you never know. But at least part of me will be happy with whoever wins. I hate Favre enough that I want to see Rodgers match his total number of SB rings in 3 years as the starter. I like Pittsburgh too and would be happy for Lady Aravan. Unfortunately, she showed me a video on YouTube featuring some parody of Gaga’s “Bad Romance” called Steel Defense. It was so horrible that I had to say, “You know, THAT’s why people don’t like the Steelers or their fans.” It was bad enough that I struggle with rooting for them now, heh. Although, to be fair, every team’s fans contain a huge amount of irritating human beings, so I shouldn’t judge a fanbase on one video. Maybe.

  3. Dear Football Fandom Sage,

    While I agree with your commandments for the most part, I wish to get your opinion on a few points and on what may be a gross violation of your commandments.

    I wish you would comment on the “home town” factor when choosing a favorite team. How much of a factor should the home town be in this selection? What does geographic proximity mean exactly? Someone living in the northern Delaware area is close enough to Philly, Baltimore, and Washington to consider any of them “home town.” Although obviously Philly is the first choice as the closest, should that be a factor? When is it okay to change allegiance after moving into the geographic proximity of another team? Since moving to western Maryland, I have tried to shift allegiance to Washington from Philly, but it just never took. Should I feel extra respect for my co-worker from up-state New York who still is an unrepentant Bills fan?

    The one thing that really bothers me is the bandwagon fan. The release of videos such as the one mentioned previously is sure sign that people are hopping on a team’s band wagon. Remember the stuff that the ’80s Bears churned out? I really think that there are way to many Steeler fans out there. Pittsburgh is not that big of a city. There are too many Steeler fans who like them only because they have been good for so long. (Note that my great regard for Lady Aravan’s high moral character leave me with absolutely no doubts about the sincerity of the motives of her allegiance.) Have you seen many 49ers fans lately? Where did they all go? Did they go into retirement with Montana and Young or just migrate to another perennially successful team? Oh, the later, I think.

    I mentioned a gross violation of your commandments. I am an Eagles fan. As a rule I do not like the Giants, Skins, and Cowboys. So far, so good, but here is the perverse part. During the playoffs, if the Eagles are eliminated or one of the other NFC East teams are playing someone else, I root for the NFC East, not against. Note that I still have a really hard time rooting for the Cowboys since all the class imparted by Tom Landry has swirled down the locker room shower drain. This seems contradictory since during the season the Giants are a hated team of mine. (Any New York City team usually fits this bill because of the way the national media shoves them down our throats.) But during the playoffs, I go for the NFC East. I think of it like a family where those teams are like your brothers. They piss you off most of the time, but if someone else gets into a fight with them you throw yourself into the fray and pound the offender until they go away. That is my justification anyway. Is this normal, or even acceptable?


    A Confused Fan

    • Ahhh, you raise some EXCELLENT questions. Here we leave the realm of Commandments and enter into the murky and confusing plane of mere Law. Each case needs to be weighed on its own merits.

      The Home Town Factor: In my opinion, Favorite Team is Home Town Team At The Time an Individual Becomes a Football Fan, Unless Following Family Allegiance. If in an area surrounded by several teams in close proximity, then the individual may choose among them if no prior family allegiance comes into play. The changing allegiance question is tough. I would have to say that an individual should stick to their guns and their team. Certain exemptions would apply: I wouldn’t fault a Browns fan from eventually switching to a new team.

      Bandwagon fans are the scourge of the Football Fan’s World. I agree that there are way too many Steelers fans, attributable to the 70’s run and now a late resurgence. I saw the same resurgence of sudden Packers fans after their Super Bowl victory under Favre. “Oh, I was always a Packers fan,” said the person I’d known for 7 years who never once mentioned it until afterwards. The Disappearing 49er Fan Phenomenon is little-discussed, which is a shame. Those people are probably now Cowboys, Steelers, and Saints fans. We have no choice but to crush the heads of bandwagoners under a large stone wheel.

      As regards to Lady Aravan, I think your instincts are correct. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and is also the third-generation fan in her family, although I believe her mother’s allegiance is more bandwagoner than normal.

      Ahhh, for the third point. I call it the SEC Rule, since it is a phenomenon most often seen in that college football conference. I have myself subscribed to that allegiance myself: if the Redskins do not represent the NFC East, then I have rooted and hoped that the Super Bowl winner came from the division. Since I am an unrepentant homer, I say the exception is allowed ONLY for the NFC East, since it is by far the best division in all of organized sports.

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