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I grew up a fan of Newcastle United FC when everyone at school supported Manchester United. This was not by choice. Rather, it was an unfortunate inheritance of birth, like my receding hairline, as my dad and his dad were both from Newcastle. That’s how fandom worked; it was passed on through marriage or birth and based on location and the access this granted to the team. Since I’ve supported Newcastle they have been relegated twice, sold all their best players, and the billionaire owner exposed for horrific business practices. Yet here I am, a fan still devoted to the black and white.
In NZ my dad lost pretty much all access to the team. Few games were broadcast even when SkyTV became a thing and coverage was dedicated almost solely to the major clubs. Even finding results was difficult. Teletext was the saviour. For those too young to remember, Teletext was a channel on pre-digital TVs that contained program guides, news, sport results, horoscopes, etc. It was basically the internet but slower and filled with far fewer cats. It was a pain to use and difficult to read and this nightmare was what people lived before Google.
Now any live match is an illegal stream away and kids grow up watching highlights on YouTube. In this new world, fandom is becoming more nebulous, less about local allegiance and increasingly attached to individual athletes. And here’s my problem: I consistently see “fans” wearing competing team logos, say a Lakers singlet with a Celtic hat, and this is quite unconscionable. If you aren’t going to pick a team to throw all your support behind, at least act like a knowledgable fan and respect the importance of allegiance and rivals, otherwise you look like a hypocrite.