For over six months, I have had the pleasure of working at GreenPark Sports researching sports and esports fandom, the culture surrounding esports/sports leagues, teams and players, as well as fan behaviours and motivations.
There are so many complex facets to explore, but ultimately I wanted to share what I have taken away.
At a fundamental level, sports fans are a part of a tribe. For many, their fandom is rooted in family tradition, sometimes even spanning generations, which motivates them for a lifetime.
However, sports fandom is bigger than the experience of the arena.
I have noticed two very binary patterns: BIRging (basking in reflected glory) and CORFing (cutting off reflected failure).
Basking In Reflected Glory:
This is when a fan is caught up in the moment of victory, they are basking in glory. When a fan identifies with a team, they are like orbiting satellites to the sun where they feel themselves aglow from the victory and therefore a part of it
That is when the use of the term “we” comes about.
Cutting off reflected failure
This is the phenomenon that occurs when a fan experiences defeat.
They switch from “we” to “they”, they no longer identify, they take off their jersey or put at the back of the closet
Ultimately, the dominant explanation for this is access to the feelings of victory.