Fan? Fancier? Fanatic? Me?!

Fan? Fancier? Fanatic? Me?!

I started drafting this after spending yet another night with interrupted sleep. I had a good reason -- the Blackhawks were playing a late game, and I love playoff hockey.  But don't call me a fan.

The word fan derives from the word fanatic -- which we have too many of in this world. I'm not fanatical when it comes to the Blackhawks. While my family and friends laugh that off, I'll remind you that my dictionary defines fanatical as "unreasonably enthusiastic; overly zealous; as fanatical devotion to a cause."  (Me? I'm reasonably enthusiastic, of course.)

I once thought that "fan" as in "sports fan" derived from "fancier." Well, those definitions are as follows: "1. a person given to fancies. 2. a person with a special interest in the knowledge of something, particularly in the breeding of plants or animals, as a dog fancier." I wouldn't say my special interest in my favorite team goes quite that far.

The definition of fan is listed as "probably from fanatic" -- "a person enthusiastic about a specified sport, pastime or performer; devotee." OK, I'm devoted to the Blackhawks, but not overly so... I hope.

Checking Bartlett's for quotations about fanatic yielded a fine illustration:

"A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks th' Lord wud do if He knew th' facts iv the case."

-- That's from Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) in "Mr. Dooley's Philosophy."

Now, I can remember enjoying getting to watch "the Hawks" with my dad and grandfather as quite a small child. Dad and I still enjoy comparing today's successful team with what used to be called "the glory years" when I was small. (Maybe we followers should start calling that "the first glory years" and now "the second glory years.") But I don't think of my own reactions in terms of "Mr. Dooley's" definition.

I'll catch naps during duller stretches of games, such as when Minnesota scored three times the other night. If there was a time between being too young to stay up during late games and being too old to stay up, it must have happened in summer!

Another argument against fanaticism is that I hold "my" team to high standards; I don't just love everything about them. Players who were part of the Stanley Cup Champions of 2010 and/or 2013 are still special to me, regardless of whether they still play for the Blackhawks. For example, I couldn't begrudge Troy Brouwer of Washington his winning goal in Jan. 1's "Winter Classic" outdoor game -- not after he helped win a championship here.

So, I prefer the Blackhawks -- in French, they are mon equipe prefere. I'd rather listen to them than either baseball team, for example. But if something more important gets in the way, whether it's major news or the need for sleep, I'll give up on the game.

For the moment. Unless the score's tied, of course.


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  • Great piece. I'm with you A fan is a devoted follower. A fanatic? He's a demented one.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    You better watch it...some of the posters on the Cubs blogs are going to get you. In their opinions, Epstein has brought a winning team for the past 3 years and anyone who disagrees is a sour Sox fan rooting for a team that has no chance to win anything.

  • In reply to jack:

    I know of what you say. I used to go to the Cubs Den to add a dissenting view and got belabored with rancorous personal attacks.
    Those blogs remind me of the Right-Wing bubble of Fox News. Unfair and partial to the extreme.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thanks again. That doesn't sound like the Serious chats we have around here.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks, Jack -- but that's just the meaning of "fanatic" I am trying to slow down here. My argument, in the logical sense, is about the words -- not the teams.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you. That's a fine distinction.

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