aka Tebow (no, not the real Tebow)
Me: What does it mean to be a fan of something?
Daniel: It means that you like something… and… will watch it or do it in some type of way? Like if you’re a “fan” of crocheting, you crochet… maybe (laughs). And if you’re a fan of sports, you watch them, either live or on TV, or follow it online on social media.
Have you been part of a fan community? How so? Please describe.
I’d say I’m part of the sports fan community because I watch sports during all times of the day whenever I am free. Currently, I am the biggest Florida Gators fan there ever [was]. When it’s college, like if you’re a fan of a college, there’s multiple sports that they have, whereas if it’s a professional league like the NBA, the National Basketball Association, they only play basketball.
So you’re a fan of particular college and all the sports from that college?
Yes, you can be.
You did kind of mention this, but how often and how long do you participate in these fan communities/fandom spaces?
Either when I’m watching the game—which, a sports game usually last between 2 or 3.5 hours—or if I’m scrolling on the internet, like on Twitter or Instagram, usually I follow a lot of sports people on there, and I’m participating in it when I do that, which is a lot of the time (laughs).
(laughs) Fair enough. Please describe a typical interaction or experience within these spaces.
So… if you go to a sports event… like, I go to the University of Florida, and when I go to sports events there, at the basketball games specifically, and at football, too, you high five the people around you when you score a touchdown or make a great play or something. And these are people you don’t know, you’re just a fan of the same thing, with that being the sport. Online, you can message the athletes (laughs). You can comment on the MLB [Major League Baseball] memes page and then people will talk to you through there and, like, yell at you (laughs).
Is it more of a positive or a negative experience, or somewhere in between?
It really depends. In person, it’s usually positive if you’re at a home site rooting for the home team. If not, there’s fights that happen, but I’ve never been in one of those fights, but I’ve seen the fight happen. So we were at a football game and the Gators were playing Florida State University, and it’s like a big rivalry, and there was this frat sitting behind us, like a block of frat guys. They were right next to FSU fans, and they started yelling at each other, and then the FSU fan went and got the security guard, [who] ended up kicking the FSU guy from the stadium while letting the frat guys stay. But there were no punches thrown. They were just yelling and cursing.
Have they ever gotten violent, that you’ve seen?
I’ve seen ones online. A few years ago, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, and there was a fight there and the guy ended up going to the hospital. And then the Giants players visited him in the hospital, which was very nice.
Okay, well this kinda went down a negative path, is there anything positive that you wanna—well, you did mention some positive stuff, but…
Yeah, like, you can just celebrate your team’s wins with your friends and then go out later at a bar and have fun and celebrate more.
Sounds very wholesome. Now, you kind of already did this, but describe your ‘history’ with a fandom. What made you join? What made you stay?
So I’d been watching baseball a lot when I was littler, but then I really started paying attention because I liked this guy in the 5th grade and he liked the [New York] Mets, so then I started watching the Mets to talk to him (laughs). And look at where I am now, I’m a bigger fan of the Mets than him. And I stayed because I just liked seeing the team do well, and the players were nice, [judging] by watching what they did on TV and meeting some of them. And then at college, you’re kinda like thrown into it.
All the sports events give away free stuff, so you’re like, “I want this free thing,” and then you go (laughs), get the free thing, and then I usually stay because I enjoy going with my friends, or I enjoy watching with random people.
So is it kind of an even mix between interacting with the “content,” or the sport itself, and with the community?
Nice. That’s pretty much the same with nerd stuff.
Oh, and at colleges, they get you hype by doing the Gator Chomp with the cheerleaders and the athletes will do it, too, so you feel like you’re part of a community. And you also do the chants and stuff.
Back in the day when you first joined this community, if you knew then what you know now as a fan in this community, would your fan experience be different? Would you join it again?
I don’t think it would really be different. No, I thought it would be cool, and then I did it, and it was cool, so.
It met your expectations of what it was?
Exceeded your expectations? How so?
It’s just so exciting, cheering with your friends and people you don’t know.
(laughs) That’s fair. How important is your fandom to you? Why is it important?
I’d say it’s a big part of my life and who I am because, if you meet me, the first thing you know is that I like sports, usually. [And it’s important] because I’m not really a fan of… When I’m flipping through the channels on the TV, I don’t really have an interest in other shows rather than sports. Not really sure why, but sometimes the shows can confuse me, and I don’t like when I’m confused. Like if the plotline is confusing or if it’s scary, I don’t like scary stuff, and sports usually [aren’t] scary. I mean, it’s scary to think that you might lose, but it’s straightforward to me because I’ve been watching it a lot and I know the rules.
You kind of touched on this, but has fandom experience played a part in your identity/how you identify yourself today? How so?
Yes. Just like… all of my friends know that I like sports, and that’s probably one of the first things you’ll hear from me, is me saying “How bout them local sports teams?” (laughs)
Do you create content as a fan? Please describe.
(laughs) I had a Tumblr account. I would list the players that I thought were the cutest from each team in the MLB… (laughs)
That’s valid, okay? (laughs) No judgment here. We love that.
And I would also make lists of the ones that were the nicest, if I met
them when I went to go see them play. Don’t know if that’s
considered… Oh! Also, I have photoshopped… I photoshopped
this together, and each picture was added to represent a game in
the Gators’ football season, and then I shared this online as it
progressed. So I made this… “fan art”… Me and my friend wore
overalls to the game, so I put two people with overalls. The head of
one is a Pepe as a gator. This one’s a cabbage because… we’re not
gonna go into that. This one’s a hydro flask with Kyle Trask, our
quarterback’s face on it, because there was a whole meme about it
of him being “hydro flasksksksk”/“hydro Trasksksksk”/whatever.
Visco girl things. And then we have the Kyle Trask $100 bill, that
people made as fanart and were handing out to promote their
support of Kyle Trask, [sitting] against our other quarterback who
got injured, who is Feleipe Franks, which he is sitting here on his
[wheelchair] because he broke his ankle. Here is our football coach
Dan Mullen, here is the coach of another team that lost to us, and
here is a kicker who ruined the game for the other team and caused
us to win. So, I made that fan art.
There’s a lot of memes in there, are memes a big part of the fan community?
Yes, memes are very big. There’s a whole meme page for each pro-sports thing. MLB memes, NFL memes, NBA memes, there’s a meme page for Gators memes that you can be a part of if you go to our school on Facebook. I’m not in it, though, but my friend sends me the memes. The “fan art” (laughs).
Have you ever had career or professional opportunities open up for you as a result of your fandom experiences?
No. I’ve applied to jobs—like, to tutor the athletes. My availability didn’t match their availability, though, so I’m on hold for next semester.
That’s cool, though. That’s... like a close interaction with the “content” of your fan community, I guess.
(laughs) Yeah, and then my one friend—she likes football and she was an ambassador for the school. She would take the prospective football players on tours of the school when they were in high school to try to get them to go to [FSU]. That was a job offer, too.
Have you ever discovered new interests because of your fandom experiences?
Yes. This is indirect, kind of… So, I never really liked watching basketball, and then when I went to college, I went to the basketball games because I was like, “Oh, I’ll go. I like sports in general.” And then, I met my one friend there, and she was like “Oh, the NBA,” and I was like, “Oh, let’s go to a game,” so I went to an NBA game, and now I like the NBA, and I didn’t like it before this year.
Anything not sports related?
Hmmm… Different foods at the concession stands at the games? (laughs) There’s jambalaya at the basketball games, which I probably would’ve never tried before.
That’s fair. Do you tell people outside of the fan community that you're in that fan community? Why or why not?
Yes, because it’s a big part of my life.
Okay! Do you tell people inside of the fan community that you're in that fan community? Why or why not?
Yes, because then I can find more friends that’ll go to the games with me.
That’s also very fair. That’s all the questions that I have, but did you want to circle back to anything or rant about anything?
Nope, I’m good.
Alright, that’s it! Thank you very much!