When people ask me whether I’m a Warriors fan, I tend to shrug and say “when they let me.” With the 49ers over the past dozen years, my answer has been “it’s been tough.”* I haven’t followed the Giants with any real passion for almost a decade.** I half keep an eye on the Sharks. I don’t follow Stanford as much as I used to. And I don’t follow the Earthquakes at all.***
**Stupid Barry Bonds coverage was so bad that Giants news stories were only concerned with how Bonds did and rarely mentioned anything else about the team.
***I probably would care more if their jersey sponsor was anyone but Amway.
Yet if asked about most of these teams, I will self-identify as a fan. I’ll always have a general sense how they’re doing. And who the key players are. And I’m familiar with the team history and legacy in the area. I’ve had decades to soak all this up so it’s part of who I am. When things pick up and the Warriors make an improbable playoff run or the Giants actually win the World Series, it doesn’t take much to get me back into die-hard mode.
Especially with the Giants since I knew everything about them for about 10 years of my life.
It’s all very easy compared to how hard I worked to become a Barça fan. I couldn’t keep in touch with how things were going by paying attention to the local news or office chitchat. I had to read game reports in Spanish and research the history of the team the best I could. I took what I learned in design classes and art history classes and became interested in Barcelona the city. I don’t claim to be a local but I’ve had to steep myself in many things Catalán.
It’s a lot of work but it’s what makes me a fan.
And it puts into perspective how easy it is to be a local. When the Giants won the World Series, I was thrilled. But I also felt like celebrating it was sort of cheating. I’m used to being either the hardcore Barça fan who follows everything because he has to, or the hardcore Giants fan I used to be when I was 16. I don’t have to be either of those now.
As a result, despite it meaning more to me when the Giants won the Series than anytime Barça has won anything, I felt that I was somehow bandwagoning onto my own team. That there were other fans who had committed more and deserved to celebrate more. And I was just a local who had sort of coasted along. Just because it’s easy to follow the team doesn’t make me less of a fan. But it should make me realize how lucky I am that it can be that easy.