The Evolution of a Sports Fan: What Are Your Favorite Sports?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Gary Ablett of the Cats wrestles with Adam McPhee of the Dockers during the AFL Second Semi Final match between the Geelong Cats and the Fremantle Dockers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 10, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a sports fan….both active and passive. Growing up outside of Philadelphia I had plenty to follow even in those days: the Eagles, the Phillies, the A’s, the Warriors. Yeah, I know, I’ve been around a while. Those other teams, the Sixers and Flyers, didn’t come till later, but I followed them too.

I was what you would call a traditional American sports fan. In order, I cared about:

  1. Football–NFL
  2. Baseball–MLB
  3. Basketball–NBA
  4. Kate Smith (Philly joke)

I don’t exactly remember where or when I started to stray. Maybe it was 1961 when Wide World of Sports debuted. Who knew people played those sports? For that matter who knew they were sports in the first place? I think that was where I saw my first Aussie Rules action and the rest, as they say, is history.

I became more and more interested in what you might call “world” sports. Of course, back then, before Al Gore invented the Internet, it was a whole lot harder to get information, so basically I had a fascination with few ways to satisfy it. Then I went to Penn State.

Welcome to big-time sports, sonny boy. What a revelation. It wasn’t just the football. PSU had just about every sport imaginable. I went to see most of them and inexplicably wound up on the fencing team. Fencing? Who the hell fences? Mostly people with unpronounceable last names is what I found out. But that was probably the final nail in the coffin of my traditional sports interest.

Fast forward to the beginning of the “Information Age.” I still have the itch and now am more able to satisfy it. With more outlets I can sample and follow pretty much any sport I want. My sports interests have certainly altered.

My list had become:

  1. Football–NCAA
  2. Football–NFL
  3. Aussie Rules
  4. Baseball–MLB

The Internet becomes a supernova. Somewhere along the way I start refereeing, then coaching, scholastic soccer. I discover rugby. I still yearn for more Aussie Rules. I stumble upon a Premier League forum while looking for something else. Whoops. The hook is set.

I get a broadband subscription so I can watch the EPL. I get another so I can watch Super 14 rugby. I get a third so I can watch the Australian Football League. The Information Age is not kind to my pocketbook. What on God’s green earth is going on? Well, it’s simple really. All those sports are now “better” to me than the ones I grew up with. Whether it’s a running clock, the more continuous flow of the matches, lack of ad breaks or the fascination with different skills and tactics, my list of top sports is now:

  1. Soccer–EPL
  2. Rugby (northern hemi as well as southern)
  3. Football–NCAA
  4. Aussie Rules

I’m not sure that’s so much evolution as revolution, nor do I necessarily recommend that journey to anyone else. I do, however, wonder two things:

  • Has anyone else been down that road?
  • What is your list of favorite sports?

I am particularly interested in the responses to #2 from our English readers. Are there sports interests outside of football for you, personally? Your passion for the game makes me wonder if there is room for anything else.

55 Comments

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