"Go root for another team."
And my personal favorite, "You don't know football!"
At some point if you are a fan with an unpopular opinion, you have heard these things or something very similar. And it makes your blood boil. Usually a lengthy back and forth will ensue once the insult has been slung.
Never fear, 49ers fans, because I am here to assure you that no matter the level of intensity you bring to the table, you are a "true fan." I will also give you tools to disarm those who come at you sideways. Let’s start with the levels of fandom.
Casual fans: They root for a specific team when they are playing but they don't watch every game. If their team is in the playoffs they will make sure not to miss those games and will wear some team gear to show support. When their team loses, they are slightly disappointed but life resumes very quickly.
Invested fans: They're a bit more serious. They watch all the games and they have a favorite jersey. They know the inner workings of the organization and can rattle off stats of their favorite players. Although these fans tend to get bummed out after every loss, no matter what is happening around the team, this fan remains optimistic. They also tend to fully trust the organization to do their job. Invested fans are the first to call out the next fan I'm about to mention.
Die hard fan: This fan also watches every game but their intensity level is on tilt at all times. This fan hangs on the edge of their seat every play and has an opinion about everything they are seeing. This fan is also the fan who will buy season tickets, memorabilia and have a man cave dedicated to their team. As my friend Jon and I like to say, "Die hard fans can name the starting five offensive linemen, without hesitation." Although this fan loves their team, they are very critical when things are not going right. This is where the arguments with the invested fans can boil over.
For the record: Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Alex Mack, Aaron Banks and Mike McGlinchey.
Now that we have established the levels of being a fan, let's talk about the rules of being a fan. Get your pen and paper out because this list is lengthy.
1) Root for the product on the field come game day.
That's it, only one rule to being a fan. None of the other stuff matters. You can buy jerseys, you can buy memorabilia, heck, you can blow blood vessels in your head yelling at the refs as you watch on TV. You can be critical during the offseason or be optimistic. You can even watch film until your vision blurs. Your only job requirement as a fan is to root for the product on the field come game day.
When you get fans together, especially on social media, things can get tense. If fans are seeking out their team's forums, they usually have a strong opinion one way or another. If conversation is done productively, you may learn something. If done in an unproductive manner, it can ruin your day. My advice as you seek out your next conversation, remember the one rule of being a fan. Verbally express this rule to end heated debates and walk away. Doing so will make your social media engagement a much more enjoyable experience.