“Sports…has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”—Nelson Mandela
Sports, as a form of entertainment, truly have the power to bring people together. It fills seats in arenas, some-times even packing it more with people who are willing to stand all throughout matches. It creates a community among people regardless of ethnic roots, religion, jobs or stature in society. For example, even if the NBA is played in America, we know that there are people on the other side of the world cheering and celebrating with the Warri-ors when they won this year’s championship. Also, one doesn’t need to be studying in Ateneo in order to cheer for Alyssa Valdez every time she scores a point.
Today in our world, especially in our country, where sports have truly become more of a business than just an ac-tivity or entertainment, the fans now have a vital role in the whole scheme of things. They are now part of the equation leading to a team’s success. Without them, the athlete, coach and the team would be nowhere close to where they are now, achieving celebrity status. Nowadays we see how athletes in the professional and sometimes even more in the collegiate levels have become celebrities in their own right. They now rub elbows with TV and movie actors, models and musicians – thanks to the big following they have through sports.
Sports fans vary. Some would be so just because they have the passion for the sport. These are the people who admire athletes that show excellence. These fans are the ones who would cheer for you and won’t be afraid to criticize you when you’re performing subpar because they understand the game. Of course there will also be your bandwagoners, those who simply appreciate the athletes that look good in and out of the court. These are the ones who in my opinion would love an athlete only when they’re wining and would never want to see a flaw in their idols. Others would be the die-hard kind, the ones who would always be in their favorite team’s shirseys, and who would always make it a point that they get to watch them live. These are the ones who would definitely be jumping and screaming their hearts out in every match. These are also the type of fans who would know how well the player is doing based on statistics, and even know bits of information about their personal life!
Regardless of the different kinds of fans there are, they are all responsible for generating the money in sports. A fan can devote so much time and money in connection with the sport that sometimes it seems ridiculous. One time, I was able to confirm that some avid fans of teams would fly in from Visayas to Manila just to watch a game! The fans are the ones who sold out tickets on game day, the ones behind every purchase of team shirts and jer-seys and the reason why we have UAAP-themed accessories, flip flops, and donuts. Companies are learning that the lucrative value of connecting with fans. Sports figures, may it be the teams, coaches or the athletes, score en-dorsement deals that varies from free clothing collaboration to being featured in a 30-second TVC as they are iden-tified with goodness and greatness. I remember back when I was playing in college, our coach would always re-mind us to be good role models because people are looking up to us since we’re seen on the television often. To put it into perspective, that’s guaranteed live TV coverage for about twice a week for three months, every year for the UAAP women’s volleyball teams, considering that some athletes would be playing in all their five years in the league. That’s just how these sports figures can become celebrities, and fans are the main reason why games are aired on TV— live, delayed or replayed.
At the end of the day, we learn that fans are not just mere spectators of the sport, but also the lifeblood of the sporting industry— the financiers of the sporting business.