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I'm Not Gatekeeping College Fandom, You're Just Sensitive

My good pals over there in Chicago had an excellent Dog Walk Draft this week with Will Compton about worst fanbases. Speaking of Will, it's a crime he and I (and Taylor for that matter) haven't spilled more beer together. I was supposed to be in Nashville for the Classic and the opening of the newest bar in the Barstool arsenal but alas it turns out you shouldn't fly anywhere when your wife is almost 40 weeks pregnant unless you have access to a private jet. 

The first 10 minutes of the most recent episode was a delight to listen to as the boys chopped it up before getting into the worst fanbases 


Which brings me to my above point - the worst fanbase is anyone who roots hard for a college they have zero connection to in any substantial way. I've shared this point before but tonight I had an epiphany. I get accused of gatekeeping college fandom when I express this belief but the reality is, people with legit rooting interests aren't the ones who are getting mad. The ones chirping back at me are being sensitive because they know their fandom is based in some absurd reasoning. 

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Recently I was in an argument with my wife - she is a saint and I was wrong - mid argument she pointed out that I was getting louder and digging my heels in because I knew my argument was fugazi. I can sling BS with the best of 'em but what I realized (silently in my head) was that she was right. The more convoluted my argument became, the louder I became. 

That's exactly what we have here - people are sensitive about being called out for rooting for Notre Dame or Duke because they know deep down in places they don't want to talk about at parties, it's a load of manure that they root for that school. 

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They know the following scenario has played out one too many times and they are sick of it:

(Sitting at a bar in NYC)

"fan" screams loudly at TV for a blown call in the Notre Dame game

patron: So, you went to Notre Dame? 

"fan": No

patron: so you're from South Bend then? 

"fan": no 

patron: so how did you become a fan?

"fan": Well, when I was 8 my mom was dating this guy named Bob. 

patron: Oh! So Bob went to Notre Dame?

"fan": No he didn't either. So anyway, Bob was a real loser and he would come over our house on Fridays for dinner and dessert. When he wanted me to go away, he sat me down in front of the TV, put the movie RUDY on, and went in the other room with my mom. 

patron: You know my friend Large was in the movie. 

"fan": Who? I don't know who that is. No, so, I hated that movie because I really hated Bob. Plus, Rudy's brother was a dick. But I guess I really liked Notre Dame's colors and I was a leprechaun in my 4th grade play, so I've been rooting for them ever since. 

patron: rolls eyes and finds a stool at the other end of the bar

You hear how ridiculous that sounds? You know it does and you don't feel like explaining it to everyone so instead you get mad at me for calling you out for being a fugazi fan. Listen, I get it. People want their teams to win so it's easy to just pick a team that traditionally does well. It's also fun to have someone to root for on Saturdays. But just know that when you're rooting hard at the bar, you're irking the real fans. There are certain inalienable truths in this country and when it comes to fandom, people would much rather have a simple explanation. 


Being a fan of a college is pretty simple and the folks who weren't mad at my stance probably fall into one of the following categories. 

  1. They root for their alma mater
  2. They have a close family member who went to a school and they got brought into their fandom 
  3. They are from a state and root for their state school 
  4. Worked for the school they root for 

That's it. Replay the above scenario with one of these answers and you have a much better day. 

People from the Northeast especially like to cry about this. "We don't have major college football and I didn't go to college." You know what - you can all root for Army because they are America's team and you live in America. They are good. They play in the greatest rivalry in sports. They have great uniforms. They play every game on TV so they are easy to watch. Problem solved. 

When people are backed into a corner they get ornery. College football is upon us 7 weekends from now - get your stories straight or just enroll for the fall semester at Notre Dame. 

P.S. I honestly don't care who you root for, especially you Chief. Just know that folks look at you all a little sideways. 

P.P.S. People who defend themselves as ardently as Chief know full well how ridiculous they sound but can't admit that out loud.