What is Fandom?

Tommy Cohen

The Oxford Dictionary defines a fandom as “the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture.” The important phase in the definition is “collectively as a community.” Thus, a group of people who have the same passion, love, and interest in a particular team, sport, or player function to create a community. A perfect example of this can be seen in Cooperstown, NY, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown is a location that has a distinct fandom which lives within and symbolizes what “collectively as a community” really means. People travel from near and far to be a part of the long-lasting baseball community.

As I visited the Baseball Hame of Fame, one exhibit that stood out among the rest was the locker exhibit. The exhibit was home to 30 lockers, one for each team, holding different significant objects from various events in them. Being a Yankees fan, I immediately I sprinted to the Yankees’ locker. My eyes became glued to a glove that said Andy Pettitte on it. A little description next to it said that this was used during Pettitte’s outstanding 2010 season. I had a flood of flashback events of this team and Andy’s career as a Yankee. This exhibit highlighted for me how specific, emotional events can stay with you as a fan, even if you initially do not remember them — this is part of the fandom experience. Similarly in “Fever Pitch” by Nick Hornby, he uses specific antidotes to go deeper into what “he” was thinking and going through. The in depth recollections that he later describes clearly stayed with him for the rest of his life. In this sense, both of these examples show how powerful, specific events and the memory of them mean a tremendous amount to a member of a fandom.

What fandom means to me is having such love and passion for a sport or player, that you would be willing to sacrifice anything for them. Growing up, I had a player that I admired and strived to be like, Robinson Canó. The way he carried himself, his “swag” on and off the field, was something that I dreamed of having. I used to look up pictures of the way he stood, playing second base, and tried to copy him by looking in the mirror. Unfortunately, my role as a member of the Canó fandom has shrunk due to him being traded and him using performance enhancing drugs. Yet, the emotions never fade and I will always have a piece of Canó inside of me forever. This shows that fandoms are more than just liking a player, it has an emotional toll on you. 

“Fever Pitch” and the Baseball Hame of Fame both capture how one obsession can steer and change one’s life forever. In the beginning of the book Hornby says “Fever Pitch is an attempt to gain some kind of an angle on my obsession. Why has the relationship that began as a schoolboy crush endured for nearly a quarter of a century, longer than any other relationship I have made of my own free will?” His obsession steers his life. Hornby does a great job of sharing his love for the Arsenal football club, using cited examples to really demonstrate what Arsenal truly means to him. As I was traveling through the astonishing Hall of Fame, I sat down next to a man, who looked about 70 and a boy who looked about 10. I couldn’t help but listen to man’s knowledge he had about the game of baseball, as he shared it with the boy. The man seemed to be the boys grandpa. As I was getting up to leave, the older man put his hand on the boys shoulder and said “my grandpa took me here, I am taking you here, and one day you will take your grandson here.” When he said that, it made me think about what this place really means: a long-lastly mecca for baseball fandom.

I believe that having fandom, no matter how meaningful it is, is extremely important. What I also believe is that everyone has some sort of fandom even if they are unaware of it. There is always someone or something that you have a passion and love for, even if you are not into sports. Your fandom can live within an artist or a musician. Having that love towards something gives you a sense of community, just what the Baseball Hall of Fame does for me. A fandom creates a sense of community, is linked with specific memories, and has proven to be more than just liking something, but rather evoke extremely powerful emotions.


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