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Confessions of a ****ty Fan

By on October 18th, 2013 in Football, Memories, Other Sports 16 Comments »

                 Darth CORFer
                                     Darth CORFer says, “Come to the Dark Side!”

Go back to the Miss State game a few weeks ago. For the second drive in a row, we couldn’t pick up third and two. “How in the WORLD could you not get that!” shouted I, watching the game at home. “Nobody’s perfect,” said my wife, passing through the living room.

Later in the game, our opponent busts another huge run up the middle of our alleged defense for the third time in the game. “That was PATHETIC!!!” quoth I at the TV, maybe a few decibels less than a B-52 engine. “Keep it down!” cautioned my wife from her scrapbooking room.

At the end of the game, Nick marches us down the field for the winning score. “TOUCH-DOWN, AU-BURN!” hollered I, in a much more positive but no less loud register.

“Oh, I see, you only support them when they win for you,” said my wife, well beyond frustrated with my earlier expressions of dismay at the Tigers’ performance. “You are such a ****ty fan,” she continued, in one of the very rare occasions of her using bad language of any kind (usually only when I drive her to it).

“I am NOT a ****ty fan,” I responded. And I still don’t think so, but it certainly got me thinking more about my game-watching behavior and attitudes, even in the privacy of my home.

As I have written here before, the psychological mechanics of being a fan operate through Basking in Reflected Glory (BIRG or BIRGing) and Casting Off Reflected Failure (CORF or CORFing). We all BIRG and take pride in our team’s victories; after all, that is part of the entertainment value of spectator sports. However, I always measured the goodness or badness of one’s fandom by the amount of CORFing involved. It seemed to me that a true fan should refuse to cast off any failure from his or her team’s loss and stand by them in the public fan arena, as solidly as if on the field with them. In my way of thinking, that separated the good fan from the bad fan. It never occurred to me that a CORFcan occur in private.

I can say this: I never talk AU down to ANYONE (other than fellow AU fans in the context of constructive criticism). Even last year, living near Athens, Georgia, I kept on my Auburn attire just about everywhere I went. Of course, in football conversations I would have to acknowledge that we weren’t doing too well that year, but I would always use the pronoun “we,” thus refusing to run from the football doom brought to our door in 2012. In addition, last year I never saw any AU flags taken down, nor noticed AU mailboxes repainted, nor ever observed nothing left but the sticky residue of an AU bumper sticker that previously adorned a neighbor’s car (I’ve got a story about a disappearing Bama sticker, though).

In short, if you made it through last year as an AU fan, you are a GOOD FAN in my opinion. The thought forming in my mind from my wife’s observation is this: Just how positive do you have to stay when the game isn’t going your way? Furthermore, just how much “sunshine” do you have to “pump” to keep from being described as a bandwagoneer?

I can also say this: I tend to act much better in public, either attending in the stadium or watching at a sports bar, than I am at home. Even outside the home, I still loudly cry out “OH NO-O-O-O-O!” at a bad break. I always thought of that as being “in the game” and acknowledging the game’s importance (okay, I know a football game isn’t life-or-death, but it does have an importance of its own).

At home, I tend to let it all hang out, both positive and negative. I am merciless complaining at the bad plays, but I always try to keep “me” in the “we.” If the team is sucking, then WE are sucking. If the DB missed his seventh tackle, then WE missed the tackle. In my line of reasoning, that is the key to not crossing to the dark side (hence the picture above) of CORFing fandom. But is it enough?
Obviously, living alone all those years before marriage certainly left me inconsiderate of the feelings of others who now occupy the same building as I, and for that I am truly contrite, Mrs. Hietter. But as for that making me a ****ty fan, I can’t quite agree. But it certainly has me thinking more about the whole issue, and makes me wonder how others might feel about this. Wow, I guess that makes a good segue to the end of this article, along with a blatant invitation to comment!

Michael Val

(who, no matter how viscious towards AU he is in front of his own TV, would never CORF the Tigers to anyone!)


  1. DaZeD DaZeD says:

    I think at the end of the day (or game mind you) we must reconcile that we’re only human. In watching one of our LBs in earlier games this season WHIFF time and again in tackles and coverage that illustrated poor technique, I found myself spewing the HE as in “I can’t believe this mother#0!@(!$, HE missed another tackle right in front of him”….”what the H3LL is our DC thinking starting this guy…blah..blah…blah.

    We’re all guilty of allowing our emotional bio-rythms get out of control “in-game”, especially when we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the (darker than the soul of SABAN) tunnel we languished in back in 2012. I want us to play well even in a loss; I want to be able to say “even in the loss our guys left everything they had on the field”. A perfect example of that would be the 2009 Iron Bowl. Malzahn took a failng Chris Todd and turned him into a potential giant-slayer (see same Iron Bowl) for one season. I’m holding out hope that he can continue to develop Nick Marshall this season, but if “WE” run into a wall in developing a passing game, I feel confidence in knowing that we have JJ waiting in the wings. Johnson’s continued invovlement with this ’13 remaining schedule/practices, winter development with a dose of spring practice will have us poised for BIG THINGS in 2014. Almost all of our OL and DL will be back next fall as well. If JJ can absorb Malzahn’s playbook and strategy, then “LOOK OUT”.

    I don’t consider myself a ****ty fan…just one that has a potentially unhealthy investment of emotion (cardiac kid) in a team and university I love and am proud of even in our darkest hour! I’m not inclined to change this either. How many close calls did we have to weather in our 2010, 14-0 perfect season? 🙂

    • mvhcpa says:

      Thank you for the very insightful comment, DaZeD. In addition to myself being WAY overly emotionally invested in an AU game, I am also usually very pessimistic (in both the predictive and concentrating-on-the-negative senses of that word) when watching. Surprisingly enough, I was more positive than my best friend when we were watching the 2010 Iron Bowl. In fact, after AU’s second touchdown, I said, “Being behind so much will make it even better if we come back and win this thing!” MVH

  2. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    Your wife has a good attitude. And I bet she’s a good mom, too.

    You wouldn’t tell your kids, “Go out there and play your hearts out. And DON”T QUIT! But you’re probably gonna lose.”

    And yet people constantly post comments like that on Auburn “fan” boards all over the internet. Our “kids” read these boards, ya know.

    • mvhcpa says:

      Thank you for the beautiful compliment for my wife, KungFuPanda9. My wife certainly would be the BEST mom if we had any children. However, we may have gotten started with this marriage thing too late (first one for both of us, both after 40), but stranger things have happened! I do know she is a great “acting mom” in her job as a deaf/hard-of-hearing teacher here in Georgia. MVH

  3. CTAuburnfan says:

    As Bonnie tells me, I’m unfit to be around during a game. Probably because I’m too loud … at least that’s my story.

    I will say thatvi cheer every bit as loudly for the good plays as I express disappointment with thr bad ones. Being in CT, I don’t get to go out to watch games. Maybe that will change soon. I suspect that I would be just as loud in a sports bar with a group of AU fans, but I would clean the language up.

    • mvhcpa says:

      Thanks for coming by, CTAuburnfan. One of the odd things about the Miss St and LSU games was how I was actually keeping my usual nasty language streak (I am glad no one records me in my car when I am by myself in traffic, and NO I am NOT proud of it) pretty much in check. I thought that would be enough, but Mrs. mvhcpa was really commenting on the nasty, nasty tone in my voice, which I am sure you can picture voicing the comments I noted above–that and the bad attitude that goes along with that tone of voice. So I guess it isn’t all about the cussing that makes one “unfit to be around!” MVH

  4. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..As one of those guys with decades of experience yelling expletives at the TV on Saturdays, I’m right there with you! “Noooo, Pat Dye! We’re down seven! WHHHHYYYYY did you run a draw on 3rd and 10? You XXX-da__ed mother-___ing son of a XXXXX!”

    …..And the whole jumping on furniture, and screaming, and pacing, and all that. I’ve been there. I might actually be worse in the stands in Jordan Hare. It’s like the players and coaches might actually hear me, and take my advice, which is ridiculous, since I’m usually sitting behind the enemy bench and WAYYY across the field from the Auburn side. Although, at the Ole Miss game this year, Bo Wallace actually seemed to turn around and look up at us in disgust, in the quiet moments after the big Pick Six by Robensen Therezie, when I bellowed at the top of my lungs, “THAT’S RIGHT! THROW THAT SLANT AGAIN! THROW THAT SLANT AGAIN!”

    …..My family LOVES my keyboard play-by-plays, mainly because I’m chained to my desk, headphones and old IBM standard keyboard, and don’t have but maybe one or two vocal moments a game since I started doing this 6 or 7 years ago. My wild screams and stompings have translated to maybe a few ALL_CAPS things on the blog, rather than disturbing the tranquility of the house!

    • mvhcpa says:

      Great story about the Ole Miss game, Acid.

      And if Bo Wallace did hear that comment, there is nothing wrong in that AT ALL. That’s just a fan being a fan, as opposed to the time in Gainesville when I attended the 1990 AU-UF game (the one where Stan White threw the first touchdown pass for 70 yards, then AU got blown out).

      Late in the game, two F.U Gator fans were hollering “Welcome to the Peach Bowl!” at the Auburn bench. Some of the players heard them; the AU back-benchers turned and looked at them with an expression that said, “What a sad couple of morons.” My own riposte to those fans, since Florida had just been put on probation for the Charlie Pell scandal(s), was “Better than the bowl you are going to!” which was NONE of course. Their oh so clever response: “But we’re winning!”

      Michael Val
      (who wondered why my peers at Auburn didn’t understand why I wanted to beat Florida more than I wanted to beat Georgia and Alabama combined)

  5. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    I dropped a bad habit some time ago, or at least, I’ve tried to. While I may complain about a given play or a bad drop/fumble/interception, I make a conscience effort to not denigrate a given player by name while he’s a member of the team in good standing otherwise.

    If they’re one of those bozos who commit a crime, fail to adapt or otherwise disgrace the team or the school, that’s another matter. They get my full spleen vented in their direction.

    But while they’re playing for us, wearing our colors and trying their best to play to the very high standard of SEC conference play, they have a bye from me for any direct criticism or specific name calling. They put in too many hours of their lives for me to criticism them for a five second gaffe in one of the fastest sports on the planet.

    Believe me, it’s hard sometimes. I’m not always successful, but I do try. Much as I tend to be more polite if I’m wearing any Auburn gear in public.

    I’d much rather be thought of as ‘that nice Auburn fan’ than that “jack*** from Alabama.”

    • mvhcpa says:

      Thank you for the great observation, Sully, and a great piece of practical advice as well (about not criticizing by name). Also, I think that remembering that I am in fact REPRESENTING the University, just like the guys in uniform on the field, is why I am also better behaved in public. MVH

  6. DBAU81 says:

    For some reason, I find it much easier to handle a bad game if I’m watching in person as opposed to on TV. I guess the shared misery of thousands of other people is somehow reassuring. Part of it, I suspect, is that to my hypersensitive ears the TV announcers always seem to be rooting for the other team (see Verne and Gary dancing in the press box during the 2007 Georgia game). For that reason I really miss the days when the radio broadcast was in sync with the TV and I could turn down the TV sound and listen to our radio guys. My one ironclad rule is that I will never boo Auburn or an Auburn player or coach. That rule was severely tested a few times last year.

    • mvhcpa says:

      That’s a great comment, DBAU81. Attending in person gives a chance for shared misery as well as shared joy. I remember nothing felt worse on Jan 10, 2011 than being snowed in and not being able to share the joy with anyone (even my dad’s telephone was somehow screwed up and I couldn’t call him until later). MVH

  7. gonecoastal says:

    I’m pleased to say that I’ve never spoken badly about our players or coaching staff during a game, and have always followed Thumper’s Law when discussing Auburn football. And I’ve got some prime waterfront property for sale, cheap, too, if you believe that.

    I get it. No matter how loudly I yell at the TV, they can’t hear me. Ranting and raving at the TV doesn’t do anything positive for anyone. (Okay, I confess that I was yelling at the linebacker who must not be named as he whiffed on yet another tackle because he ran himself out of position – again). The neighbors and my family aren’t so fortunate about hearing me, though, so I’m trying to calm down, and only go with a few rituals before and during the game (It’s like the beer commercial says, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work!).

    Since I live on the Alabama gulf coast and have Dish Network satellite service, I am going to have to venture out of the comforts of my home today to watch the game on CBS. Since I’ll be at the local sports bar, I’m going to have to be on good behavior and avoid screaming at the TV. I don’t want to be known as “the ****ty Fan,” who doesn’t understand that they STILL can’t hear me through the TV.


    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..If you’re in Gulf Shores, you should be able to plug an antenna into the TV and pick up channel 5 off of the air, I would think? In hi-def, too. WKRG is still CBS, right?

      • gonecoastal says:

        Acid, I’m in Daphne, but you obviously know the area!

        You’re absolutely right that I could get WKRG/Channel 5 from regular broadcast, but the problem is that my TV’s are old-style analog receivers, and everything is broadcast in digital these days. That hasn’t been a problem until now, as the satellite set-top boxes converted for me. Short of purchasing a new TV, my only real option is to go somewhere that I can watch the game. Oh, and they have to serve cold adult beverages.

        Believe me, this pricing dispute between Media General and Dish Network has got the entire household in an uproar, as we watch a number of shows on CBS. My wife is burning up our internet connection to stream NCIS, etc., but she’s angry because of the delays. I’ll probably be calling AT&T next week and converting over to U-verse.

  8. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Wow. This hits close to home. But I do have a few questions: have you been to my home during the football season?? And do you know my wife?? This mimics my household verbatim.

    LOL. And very sad. 🙁

    Still, very well done. And like yourself… I happen to support Cardiac U… uh, I mean, Auburn University. What can I say… I am addicted. It’s in the water or in the food. And the transition happens at an early age or maybe before conception. The disease is totally debilitating.

    I lament during the bad times… and float on air during the good. But through it all… you can never, ever question my loyalty. I bleed orange and blue.

    War Eagle!