By now, hockey fans have probably seen the video of a group of Toronto Maple Leafs fans watching last week’s Game 7 loss to the Bruins. If you haven’t, it’s below. Fair warning: It’s downright painful to watch.
You don’t have to be a Leaf fan or even follow hockey to understand what you’re witnessing. If you’ve been a die-hard fan of a team in any sport for long enough, chances are you’ve suffered through watching a game like that. Depending on which teams you follow, you may have been there far more often than you’d care to remember.
There’s no right or wrong way to react to the sight of your favorite team self-destructing on national television. But through the years, fans seemed to have developed a variety of methods for handling it. The next time you have to sit through a sports disaster for the ages, here are 20 different types of unhappy sports fans you might find yourself in the room with.
1. The Fan Who Punches a Wall
This guy (and it’s almost certainly going to be a guy) reacts to a devastating loss with physical violence. Usually that comes in the form of a wall-punch, though occasionally he’ll mix in a double-palmed coffee table slam or a pulverized remote control. This will be followed by an uncomfortable silence as everyone slowly inches away from him. Eventually, somebody may try to break the tension by offering him a drink or complimenting his Ed Hardy shirt.
Your level of amusement with this fan’s antics will be directly correlated to whether you’re watching the game at his house or yours.
2. The Single F-Bomb Fan
This fan is a traditionalist. He or she responds to every negative twist and turn with a single f-bomb, followed by a brooding silence. Simple. Timeless. Almost, dare we say, elegant.
This fan actually comes in two sub-varieties: The short f-bomb, or the drawn-out f-bomb. The former gets bonus points for volume, while the latter is aiming for endurance.
3. The “Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God NOOO!” Fan
This is another classic reaction, though it’s rare among veteran fans. That’s because it implies some sense of surprise at the end result, meaning that on some level, the fan was actually expecting that something good might happen. If you see somebody reacting to a play this way, you can count on them being a relatively new fan. Don’t worry, they’ll be cynical and broken down like you within a few years.
Fun fact: You can predict the length of the “NOOO!” by counting the number of “Oh my Gods” that come directly before it: Each “Oh my God” adds one additional “O.” It’s science!
4. The Superstitious Fan
This fan is not one to passively sit by while the game goes bad. He has a plan, and that plan will save the day as long as everyone just does what they’re told.
He will usually start off simple. Expect to be ordered to switch seats. Food items will be banished from the room. Alternate jerseys may be assigned. Furniture will almost definitely be moved around. If the game is available on another channel, expect to end up watching that even if it’s being broadcast in a language you do not understand.
As the situation deteriorates, the Superstitious Fan will come up with increasingly complicated ways to turn the fortunes around. This could involve group meditation, ritualistic chanting, or setting something on fire. Just go with it. Look, do you want to win or not?
An important note: Do not question Superstitious Fans. They have a lot on their mind, and they certainly don’t need to be bothered with a lot of silly queries like “Why are we doing this?” and “Have you lost your mind?” and “Didn’t you have a beard five minutes ago?” and “Wait, why does my spouse have to watch the rest of the game from the fire escape?”
5. The “How?” Fan
As demonstrated brilliantly by that one guy at the 2:05-minute mark in the Leafs video, some fans respond to misery simply by asking “How?” over and over again. If the loss is traumatic enough, they may spend the rest of their lives randomly shouting “HOW?” during movies, job interviews, and their children’s weddings.
Nobody ever answers them, nor do they want to be answered. There is no answer. There is only pain.
6. The “Why?” Fan
This is the more philosophical version of the “How?” fan. This fan is skipping past the formalities and going straight for the big question.
Note that while the “How?” guy isn’t addressing anyone specifically, the “Why?” guy most certainly is. He’s demanding answers from the sports gods themselves. And the answer is always the same: “Because we hate you.”
7. The Fan Who Kind of Seems to Maybe Be Crying a Little Bit
Do not try to talk to this fan. Just pretend you didn’t notice. In fact, let’s all agree to never speak of this again.
8. The Over-the-Top Meltdown Fan
Featuring all the anger of Single F-Bomb Fan, but lacking his sense of self-control, this fan reacts to a loss the way a toddler reacts to having a toy taken away: with screaming and other assorted histrionics. He makes everyone uncomfortable when he is watching in a group, which he’s probably not, because nobody likes having Over-the-Top Meltdown Fans around.
There is a 10 percent chance this fan is legitimately unstable, and a 90 percent chance he’s putting on a show because he’s recording himself for an obviously fake YouTube video.
9. The Pessimist
This fan spends almost the entire game predicting that something terrible is about to happen. Long before it becomes clear that the game is going south, this fan will annoy everyone by coming up with increasingly negative scenarios that he insists are about to unfold. Eventually, his lamentations become a source of constant background noise, like a dripping faucet.
This will last until, inevitably, one of the other fans will threaten this person with physical violence if he doesn’t shut up immediately. It will probably be the “Punches the Wall” guy. Everyone else will nod silently.
10. The Fan Who Says “I Knew It”
Right after the game hits rock bottom and the outcome is no longer in doubt, this fan is there to tell you that he knew it was going to happen all along. This usually means he repeats the phrase “I knew it” in increasingly aggravated fashion, often to no one in particular. For some reason, this may also involve lots of agitated nodding.
By the way, this fan has no relation to The Pessimist, who at least gets credit for going negative early on. Instead, this fan’s post-disaster “I knew it” tirade will be the first and only indication he’s given all game long that he actually did know it.
11. The Fan Who Keeps Yelling “What Are You Doing?!”
This amateur analyst has exactly one page in his playbook: Furiously gesturing at somebody while yelling “What are you doing?” As the game goes on and the situation becomes more dire, this fan continues to zero in on somebody, anybody, to criticize. By the end of the game, he’s doing it during every play, every replay, and most commercial breaks.
Note that this fan will never answer his own question, because he actually has absolutely no idea what anybody’s doing.
12. The Fan of the Other Team Who Is Trying to Be Respectful
There’s really no excuse for having this person present at all, but in rare cases it can’t be helped.
This fan is rooting for the other team, but at least he knows the deal. He’s well aware that he’s in enemy territory, and he conducts himself accordingly. No taunting, no over-the-top celebrations, no jokes. He’s all business.
Once the disaster has unfolded, this fan may offer muted condolences or try to share a story about a similar loss his team once experienced. More likely, he’ll just sit quietly and try not to make eye contact with anyone. At some point, he’ll quietly leave. At no point will anyone else acknowledge him.
13. The Fan of the Other Team Who Is Not Trying to Be Respectful
This fan may also be known by their alternate name, Fan Who Is Going to Be on the Front Page of the Newspaper Tomorrow.
14. The Condescending Non-Fan
This person isn’t actually a sports fan and doesn’t really care about the game, but he has somehow ended up watching it with you anyway. Condescending Non-Fans are probably either the unpopular roommate or somebody’s significant other who insisted on tagging along.
They want your team to win because they can tell that it seems really important to everyone else, but they don’t understand why. Once the game is over, they won’t appreciate the full magnitude of what’s just happened. They may even try to liven the mood with jokes. Needless to say, this will be unsuccessful.
Eventually, the Condescending Non-Fan gets down to his specialty: trying to boost spirits by talking to you the way a parent talks to a small child who just lost their first T-ball game. Expect him to say things like “Well, at least it was really close” and “It was still a fun game to watch, right?” before asking whether it’s OK if they switch the TV over to something else.
This person is the absolute worst.
15. The Fan Who Stays in the Back of the Room
This fan doesn’t want a front-row seat. He doesn’t want the comfy chair off to the side. He doesn’t want a spot near the food. He just wants to be left alone at the back of the room, as far away as possible.
Nobody actually knows what this fan is doing back there. He might as well be in another country. Which, of course, is exactly how he wants it.
16. The Fan Who Suddenly Has to go for a Walk
This fan responds to adversity by removing himself from the situation. Sometimes, this will be accompanied by a hurried explanation. Often, he’ll just quietly get up and leave. You may or may not ever see him again.
If you find yourself watching an important game with this fan and he announces that he’s leaving, let him go. Do not try to talk him into staying. There’s a reason he doesn’t trust himself to be around other human beings right now. You do not want to find out what that reason is.
17. The Fan Who Isn’t There Because He Only Watches Big Games at Home Alone
You won’t see this fan because he’s politely declined your invitation to watch the game with a group. He takes sports more seriously than friendship or camaraderie or even basic human interaction, which is to say that he has his priorities straight. (Side note: This fan’s absence also might be related to that one time that he was the Might Be Crying Fan.)
You may get a text message or two from this fan as the game goes on. More likely, you won’t. Once the game is over and the magnitude of the disaster has become clear, be a good friend and phone in a police wellness check.
18. The Non-Reaction Fan
This fan barely acknowledges what’s just happened. In fact, you have to study him carefully to find any reaction at all. He might slump slightly, or offer a subtle head shake. There’s a slim chance that he might mumble something indecipherable under his breath.
But that’s it. Whatever chaos is unfolding around him, he won’t acknowledge it. If you didn’t know any better, you’d almost think he was at peace with what he’d just seen. There’s a sense of serenity to him, like a still pond on a windless morning.
Make no mistake: No fan is hurting worse than this one.
19. The Catatonic Fan
This is The Non-Reaction Fan’s more extreme cousin. Catatonic Fans don’t move. They stare straight ahead. They don’t seem to be breathing. They don’t respond to external stimuli at all. You can walk right up to them and touch their eyeball, and they won’t blink. There is a non-zero chance that they may actually be dead.
The guy in the no. 17 Wendel Clark jersey at the end of that Leafs video may be the greatest Catatonic Fan of all time.
20. The Fan Who Manages to Maintain Perspective
Yes, this fan is disappointed in the outcome of the game. But he also understands that a game played by a collection of strangers is not going to have any impact on the truly important things in his life, like his health, his friendships and his family. Put simply, he understands that there are higher priorities in the world than who wins or loses a sporting event.
I’ve been watching sports for over 30 years and have never met this fan, but I suppose it’s theoretically possible that they could exist.