Fandom is a phenomenon that affects everyone in some way. I believe that every person has a passion, dedication, or sometimes, a dependency for something. Whether it be for a rock band, a television show, or even a college sports team, fans are everywhere. From personal experience as a die-hard fan of many things, I can attest to the fact that fandom is a way of life.
Growing up in New York, I was exposed to hardcore sports fanatics at a very young age. As soon as you were able to understand, you had to make a choice: if you didn’t absolutely love the Yankees, you absolutely hated them and loved the Mets. With the influence of my family, I was a self-proclaimed Yankee fan through and through. Every year when the Subway Series rolled around, my classmates and I (and often my teachers) would represent our Yankee pride with hats, shirts, and more than our fair share of trash talking. In New York, being a die-hard baseball fan is part of our culture. Everywhere we go, our team logos are in our faces, and we love it.
After moving to North Carolina for college, I learned that sports fans are the same no matter where they live: dedicated, loyal, and sometimes a little crazy. I may not be a Tar Heel born, but after four short years at the University of North Carolina, I can say I absolutely live and die for Carolina basketball. UNC breeds its fans with a (usually) consistently stellar basketball program, but more importantly with the culture of being a fan. Every year during rivalry week, the university gears up for the biggest game of the year against that school eight miles down the road that must not be named. You can literally feel the entire campus buzzing with anticipation. No one can think about anything other than the game, because for that week, our team is the only thing that matters.
Fandom consumes us. It becomes part of our lives; a part of our culture. People can be fans of anything. People have a relationship with their team, their band, or even their coffee provider. If a brand is able to use marketing to create a relationship with their consumers, the way the Yankees or the Tar Heels create a deep and meaningful relationship with their fans, they can have their own fans.
So, the next time you feel passionate about a brand or a product, stop and ask yourself, “Are you a fan?” The answer might be “Yes.”
And always remember, go Heels, go America, and go to Hell dOOk.