Tag Archives: Chicago White Sox

Is Fandom Genetic?

Is fandom genetic? I ask that question not really looking for an answer as many will want to tell me “no.” I also not talking about raising one’s kids to be Duran Duran fans because they have grown up listening and loving them. That situation, I think, would be an argument that the environment plays a big role in developing tastes, hobbies, etc. Goodness knows, I am a White Sox fan because I grew up in a house that watched a lot of White Sox baseball. I spent many hours attending baseball games in old Comiskey Park in the 70s and 80s. My entire family cheers for the team, even my nieces who grow up far away from the South Side of Chicago. No, the White Sox fandom is a situation in which nurturing created fans. To me, the question is more about having a gene that makes it likely for you to join a fandom. Is there something within my genetic makeup that draws me to fandom, for instance?

Let me be clear here. I think everyone can be a fan and probably is a fan of something. Not everyone seeks out others who are fans, which is more of what I mean about fandom. Relatively few people want to commit serious chunks of time doing something related to what they are a fan of. Even my dad who is a big White Sox fan only spends so much time and energy on it per week. Yet, some of us dive into a fandom, wanting to eat, live and breath it. Obviously, I fit into that category. As much as other things take my time, I still make sure that my week allows me to focus on Duran and being a Duranie at some point. I write this blog, at least three times a week, and spend quite a bit of time thinking about the band, especially when they are around in some capacity or when I see/hear/read something online about them. I would go see as many shows as I could and happy that I have collected as much as I have. So how come I wasn’t just content with buying their albums when they came out, going to see a concert or two? Why did/do I need to do more? Why did I need to connect with other fans?

As I start to think about this question, what pops in my head is passion. I don’t just like Duran Duran. No, my feelings are much more intense than that. When they do something awesome, I feel like I’m on top of the world. When something happens like a band member leaves, my level of concern is overwhelming. I feel deeply. That’s the question when it comes to the fandom gene. Why do I feel deeply about Duran Duran and my sister, for example, doesn’t feel deeply about anything she is a fan of? How is that since we grew up in the same house and had shared experiences?

I have pondered this question over the past week after having a long conversation with my youngest niece. My niece and I have been watching a show “together” for months now. While we live far away, we pick out a TV show to watch, agree on how many episodes to watch per week and then plan a time to discuss. At times, when we are both busy, the discussion might take place via email. Now, we are calling each other more and more to talk about the shows since we are both stuck at home. This last time led us to talk about fandom. My niece gets very passionate when she is into a show and feels deeply with various plot points. We talked about how we both loved some of the shows we watched, which led us to discuss conventions with the actors or creators attending. I told her that I had been to a couple of those conventions and enjoyed myself. As soon as I said it, I realized that I would love to go with her to one! She enthusiastically agreed! I explained that I attended those conventions alone in the past and would love company. I wanted to be with someone who got it, who understood fandom. She immediately understood and went on to share about how weird it is for her, at home, because no one at her house gets it. Her sister, her dad and her mom just like shows, movies and music but they don’t love them. No, my youngest niece and I are more kindred spirits in that way.

So how did my niece get the passion for various TV shows that she did when she did not grow up in a house with fandom? I could say that she learned it from me or her uncle (who loves comic books) but we all live far away and when we would get together, fandom was rarely a part. This is why I wonder that maybe there is a fandom gene?! What do the rest of you think? Do other members of your family also participate in fandom? If so, why? Was it learned or just part of their nature?

-A

Teach You How to Live

This blog post finds me in Philadelphia on a family vacation. My sister and her family drove from North Carolina to meet my parents and I there after we took a short flight from my home town airport. We are basically taking a long weekend to spend some time together, to see some of the local sites and to go to a baseball game. A few years ago, we discovered that we enjoy going on vacation together and planned this one as a result.

So why Philadelphia on the first weekend in August? Did I mention that we are going to a baseball game? Yep. That’s right. We are going to see the White Sox play the Phillies. Fandom is part of the family DNA. My mother likes to tell the story about how my grandpa used to travel through the Chicago sewers to sneak into old Comiskey Park to watch games for free with his brothers. My dad, on the other hand, talks about dumping an old girlfriend when she was not interested on the day the team won the Pennant. I literally do not remember a time when we weren’t White Sox fans. Games were always on and summers often revolved around listening, watching and reading about Sox games. Family discussions are filled with criticism and ideas about what the team should or should not do. I remember when my grandpa died in 1983. When grief got too much, we went out to play catch or turned on the game, which helped. It is definitely part of my family culture.

I often hear or read about the first time someone went to a baseball game and how memorable it was. I don’t have that. It isn’t that I haven’t been to a game but the exact opposite. My first game was when I was very young and I don’t remember it. The same is true for my siblings and parents. I couldn’t even tell you how many games that I have been to. Lately, we have started traveling to different cities to see our team of choice play. I have seen games in Milwaukee, both parks in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, DC and Philly as of tonight. My parents could list even more like Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City. My aunt and uncle do the same thing as well.

The point here is a simple one. I learned how to be a fan as a kid. My parents taught me that there is nothing weird or abnormal about traveling to participate in one’s fandom. They never sat down and said, “You are going to be a White Sox fan. Here’s why and how you will express your fandom.” No, they taught me and my siblings by example. I saw them be fans like I saw my grandparents be fans. As I was growing up in this White Sox household, I also realized that this brought us together as a family. We cheered the World Series win in 2005 as well as no-hitters and other big games. It provides us with something that we will always have in common. Even when we are frustrated with each other, we ALL still root for the White Sox.

Interestingly enough, this made me think of those Duranies who have taken or will take their kiddos to go see Duran. Rhonda and I took both her daughters to shows, for example. I never really thought much about the fans who bring their kids to Duran functions. Up until now, part of me probably didn’t really get it. I mean I can understand why fans would want their kids to also love Duran Duran. I get that. I would love for that to be the case with my nieces. But to take them to shows? I have taken my oldest niece to see the Killers with me but Duran is different. Would they be as into as me? What if I want to party that night? Could they go where I go? Now, though, in thinking about my White Sox fandom, I think I get it more. I totally understand wanting to really share the love of something with your family and having it unite the family. The question that I have is does age matter? In order for this to happen, do the kids have been exposed from day one?

-A

I think you might have noticed that there was not a question of the day today. I’m taking a break with them while with my family. They will return on Tuesday!

We’re All of the Same Blood

Four weeks from today, I will be traveling to Boston with my parents.  Part of the reason we are going is to see my brother who lives there but another part is to go see a White Sox game.  To be honest, we could have gone anytime over the summer but we chose this specific weekend because the White Sox are playing the Red Sox then.  This mattered to my dad.  In fact, we have seen the White Sox play in lots of different cities, including Minneapolis, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Detroit.  My parents have traveled even more than I have to Cleveland, Toronto, Baltimore and more.  It is a thing in our family.  In fact, my aunt and uncle are venturing to Pittsburgh to see them play there next week.  Despite the fact that the White Sox are having the world’s worst season, we still remain dedicated fans.

What is interesting about this is that no one rarely comments when I tell people about this plan to see the Sox play all over the States.  Generally, people tell me how cool it is that we do this as a family.  Strangely enough, though, when I say that I’m traveling all over the country to see Duran Duran concerts, I get a very different response.  It usually goes something like this, “Why?  Aren’t all the concerts the same?  Do they even play different songs?”  I always struggle to explain my reasoning after this set of questions.  Now, that I’m thinking about this family tradition of traveling to see the Sox play, I’m thinking that I have been approaching my response all wrong.

People can understand sports fans going to see multiple game because each game is different.  The results are unknown.  No one knows what is going to happen.  Heck, right now, if I were to bet, the Sox will lose the game that we are going to see but you never know.  It what keeps us going.  What if the Sox always won?  Would that stop my family from going?  No way.  In fact, that might get people like us to go to more games rather than less.  After all, winning teams generally get more and more people in stadiums because the chance to watch a win is higher.  Isn’t this really what going to concerts is like?

Hear me out.  Yes, sporting events include a competition with someone winning and someone losing.  I get that concerts are not the same.  There are not two team vying for a win.  That said, there still is a chance for a win or a loss (of sorts–not that Duran is ever a loser).  Not every concert is awesome.  At times, people can try hard to put on an awesome show and fail to live up to that expectation.  Those concerts might be considered a loss.  Yet, I would say that Duran shows are wins.  Big wins.  Even ones that fail to live up to the expectations are still victories.  Most Duran shows are like baseball games where your favorite team wins by 10-1. They are like a game in which your team wins easily and everyone has fun.  At times, Duran shows can be even better than that.  Sometimes, there are moments that are so amazing or so profound that you feel lucky to have been there. Those are just like games that end up in the record books where someone hits for the cycle or throws a no-hitters.

This is how I’m going to phrase it from now on when people ask why go to more concerts:  “Do you think that sports fans should stop going to games if they know that their favorite team is going to win?  Should fans avoid the cost of going then?”

More likely than not, the other person will say no.  S/he might say something like, “That would be dumb to stop going to games then.”

I might follow up with, “I agree.  Going to games in which you know your team has a great chance to win is awesome.  This is how it feels for me.  I feel like going to a Duran show is like going to a game where your team has a really awesome chance at winning.  In fact, there is always the possibility of going and seeing something so amazing that it will go down in Duran’s history just like going to a game might mean you get to see a grand slam in person!”

If that still doesn’t convince people then I could point out that attending a game in person means that community feeling of being surrounded by others who love what you do, cheering for the same team.  At games, you have the chance of catching a ball like concert goers can get drumsticks or guitar picks.  Both of them feature a chance to see someone you admire up close and in the flesh.

I could keep going with this metaphor but I think you all get the idea.  I really think that there isn’t that much of a difference between these fandoms anymore.  On that note, I’m off to go watch the Sox game!

-A