Happy Father’s Day and the Lesson on Fandom

Today, like many people, I’m helping my dad celebrate Father’s Day.  The celebration started this morning by taking him out for brunch at the best breakfast place in town.  Later, my parents and I will watch the White Sox game then probably play some games ourselves.  I have been working on a Duran cd for him that I hope to be finished with so that he can enjoy it during the game playing!  That’s the thing about my dad.  While I can’t say that he is a Duranie, I can say that he has always tried to appreciate them, even if he still can’t recognize my “favorite” member after all of these years.  Just the other day I went over there after a bad day and my dad put on the first Duran cd I had made him.  It was very sweet.  That cd was done in 2005 so it is definitely time for him to have a new one.  This shows me that he tries to understand my fandom, even if he doesn’t understand Duran.  In fact, he is a fan himself.  He is such a fan that I actually blame my fandom on him as he is the one who taught me how to be a fan.  Seriously.

I was born and raised in a White Sox household, which is common for those of us from the south side of Chicago.  The family activities often revolved around the White Sox games.  For example, we made sure to have dinner eaten and cleaned up if there was a game on TV.  When we got together with my cousins or grandparents, discussion on the Sox was routine.  The real treats were when we actually went to the Sox games at old Comiskey Park.  We didn’t have good seats but we still watched intently and often kept score.  My dad taught us to take the game seriously.  I will never forget the story that he frequently tells about how he was on this date that he had been really looking forward to on the day that the Sox won the pennant in 1959.  He decided that he had to take this woman to a bar to see the game, etc.  She wasn’t at all interested and my dad just knew that she wasn’t the one for him.  Lucky for all of us, he met my mom who is as much of a Sox fan as anyone! 

My parents and the rest of my family always rooted for the Sox and we sat through many, many, many horrible, losing seasons.  Those seasons were tough as they were filled with frustration and much discussion about what roster moves should be made and criticism over the past trades.  We always took and still take the losses to heart.  It is like we are part of the team and it bothers us to see them lose.  Yet, no matter how poorly they played, we never stopped caring.  We believed in the team.  We didn’t always believe in the moves that were made but we believed in the tradition, in the institution.  We still wore Sox t-shirts and sweatshirts and bought our Sox related household items.  My parents today, in fact, have a Sox mailbox!  It’s true!  Sox fans around the world have survived all of those losing seasons and were able to celebrate a World Series Championship in 2005.  I won’t ever forget that season.  First, they clenched the division on the day that I was leaving for Vegas to hang with friends and to see Duran play at the Agassi charity event there.  Then, they won the World Series on the night before I was co-hosting a Duranie weekend.  It was the best of times, in many ways!

As you can see, I learned many things about what it means to be a fan from my dad.  I learned that to be a fan means that you are loyal, through good times and bad.  While that love always remains, there can and should be criticism when it is due.  Despite this private criticism among other fans, the outside world should know that you are a fan and that you should show that proudly.  I also learned that there is an emotional connection between the object of your fandom and you.  For my dad and I, our Sox fandom connects us to our family, to each other.  It has been a part of our family for decades and will remain so.  The Sox have always brought us together.  For example, whenever there is an exciting event in Sox history, it is common for my siblings and I to all check in with my parents.  When Mark Buerhle pitched his perfect game a few years ago, my brother and sister both called to share their and our excitement!

My Sox fandom isn’t really that much different than my Duran fandom.  I will always be loyal to Duran and have certainly witnessed both good time and not-so-good-times.  I can’t imagine really ever leaving.  That said, I will always offer my sincere opinions about the band.  I will voice my thoughts about when they have done something awesome and when they missed the mark.  To me, that is what is means to be a fan.  Like in my Sox fandom, I’m pretty open about being a Duranie and will wear their t-shirts when I can!  Last, but not least, Duran like the Sox brings people together.  It is the connection I have with many other people, including my partner-in-crime.  Duran is something that we share and always will.

Therefore, as I continue to celebrate my dad today, I will also celebrate what he has taught me about what it means to be a fan.  Happy Father’s Day, to you, Dad, and to the rest of the dads out there, including those dads in Duran!  😉

-A

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