I’ve found myself over recent weeks considering what it really means to be a true and loyal fan of a sports team.
The substandard performance of my team this year, the Brisbane Broncos, has left me wondering if I should be questioning my devotion.
Six straight losses. A club supposedly in shambles. One disappointing performance after another. But I keep watching every week.
Why? I switched myself off from as much media as I could this week to gather my own thoughts and opinions. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
The 28th of March 2010. That day the Brisbane Broncos played the New Zealand Warriors at Suncorp Stadium. I was just 15 at the time. I didn’t watch sports on TV, had never seen sports in person, knew nothing about any sports team and couldn’t name a single player on any team. My dad really wanted to go to the game but my brother wouldn’t go so I took pity on him and was his reluctant companion.
Wow. I still remember how massive Suncorp Stadium felt. I remember the feeling of the 30,000-plus passionate crowd roar when the Broncos ran out. I remember a group of diehard Warriors fans cheering for “The Beast” Manu Vatuvei.
And most importantly I remember that even though we lost badly that day, I walked out of that stadium feeling like a winner. I was completely sucked into the world of rugby league.
Fast forward a decade, I proudly have the framed ticket from my first game to this day, I’m in my eighth year of being a member and can count the amount of home games I’ve missed on one hand.
During the decade or so of my fandom of the Broncos juggernaut, there have been many low points but the most recent skid has left me especially despondent. Full time last Saturday night after the loss to the NZ Warriors prompted me to consider what being a fan really did mean. It was the sight of captain Alex Glenn so distraught after six consecutive losses that really struck a cord for me.
I’ll be the first to admit being one of those people who have been venting frustrations with the club’s performance, voicing that I wouldn’t watch any more games this year and that people in the organisation have to go.
But what do I know? I’m not there to see the team and support staff working everyday. Sometimes in life things don’t work. But we don’t give up. We dust ourselves off and try again. I mean, death threats because they aren’t winning games of rugby league? What is this world coming to?
So yes, I’m allowed to get upset when they lose. I am allowed to be frustrated when they don’t perform to their potential. But guess what? Being a true fan means supporting your team no matter what, not just when we choose is convenient. While it is truly an awful feeling watching the team perform like they are right now, we must weather the storm and hope some hard lessons will be learnt.
So what does this all ultimately mean to me? It means I will be a fan when it looks like they may never win another game. I will be a fan when everyone tells me they’ve got no chance. And because I stuck it out during the hard times it will be that much sweeter the day they lift the premiership trophy once again.
That’s what being a true fan means to me.
See you on Saturday, Broncos.
“People will hate you, rate you, shake you, and break you. But how strong you stand is what makes you” – LeBron James