Posts Tagged ‘chicago cubs’


April 9th, 2009

Baseball season started this week.  For me, it started yesterday with the first game of the season that I attended.  I saw the White Sox play the Kansas City Royals at US Cellular Field with a friend.  The game surprisingly didn’t have that many people.  I thought after last year’s performance, they would have sold more seats.   That and my efforts to get tickets to Cubs games have been loads of no fun because so few seats are available.  In order to save some money  ($4 a bottle of water, $4 for a funnel cake, $3.25 for a large hot chocolate that is a small at McDonalds, etc) and resist the urge to eat my way through the game, my friend and I went out to eat in China Town before the game.  This was a very smart decision.  I could appreciate the baseball game food with out spending huge amounts on food and feeling totally icky and disgusting afterward. I was sitting on the lower level so I didn’t have that fear of falling that I have because of how awful the upperdeck is at The Cell. (It seems like it is almost an attempt at deterring the poor people sitting up there from getting truly rowdy by making them scared of exactly that so as to limit their alcohol consumption, lest they lose their balance and fall off. Except White Sox fans in that deck drink possibly more than people on the bottom.)

The above paragraph sounds like I didn’t have fun, but I did! I did! (I’m just more Cubs fan than Sox fan.) I love baseball. I love going to games. Going to a game is unlike any other fan experience I have as part of say media fandom. With sporting events, I feel like I’m part of a community. I’m sitting there with a few thousand other fans. You can yell at the players, scream at the coach, mock the umpire, boo with everyone else. It is very much a communal thing. You’re very passionate in the moment but you can let it go when you leave. Everyone around you can get your angst regarding what is taking place on the field. When the team wins, there is collective joy and ownership. When the game is done, you can come back again and relive it. The cycle can go on and on. I love that after the game, while I’m walking around Union Station, people will randomly talk to me about the White Sox because I’m wearing a White Sox jersey. With television and movies, so much of the experience is so much more internalized. It is a solitary viewing experience or limited to a small group. Yes, you can find communities for it to discuss a show but you aren’t sharing that experience when you watch with several thousand people and after the movie ends, random people aren’t going to ask you about it.

I love baseball. I missed baseball. It just feels like a way of connecting to a larger community that can be hard to find in our society at the moment. I love it. I can’t wait to see more games this season.

Women don’t write fandom history?

January 18th, 2009

Fan History’s sports section is pretty awful. Really awful. It is downright pitiful. And that’s really sad as I’m a huge sports nut and I know my Chicago Cubs sports fandom history fairly well. I and Fan History’s other admins have just not invested time in improving it because really, sometimes, why bother?

Sports fandom has traditionally been dominated by guys and they’ve done a lot to document the history of fans. Heck, there is a whole cottage history dedicated to documenting the thuggery that goes down in soccer (football) fandom. This academic work has traditionally been done by guys. It is really well done.

Media fandom has traditionally been dominated by women and they haven’t done much to document the history of fans. There have been a few things done here and there but most of the research focuses on the product itself. If fans are looked at, it is from perspective of how they interact with the product rather than how fans interact with each other. It is totally different from sports fandom. So women aren’t writing fandom history and aren’t writing the history of their own communities.

Of course, this could be something that isn’t a gender issue. It could be a product issue. In sports fandom that tends to be historically dominated by guys, the product and fans aren’t really separate; they share an identity. You can’t really talk about the Chicago Cubs with out talking about its fans. (And if you’re a Sox fan talking about the Cubs, you can’t do it with out slagging on us.) Sports owners encourage that and really crank out the merchandise so fans can brand themselves as fans of a team. Our culture totally supports that by having “Support your team dress day!” type days at work. My local Jewel does that when the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears and employees are encouraged to support their team. Sports fandom also continues on and on. Teams generally don’t collapse/disappear over night and many have histories that are 20+ years old. They have a product you can get behind and have the time to get behind as the background for your life.

Media fandom is different. The producers frequently don’t encourage that sort of relationship with the source. In a number of cases, they treated their most loyal fans as thieves or belittled them, telling them to get a life. When we think of Harry Potter and Twilight, most people outside of fandom don’t immediately think of the canon as batshit insane because the fans are batshit are insane. Most fans aren’t flaunting their relationship with the show in a way that a whole town could relate to and have special dress days for. Media fandom’s products also lack the time lasting factor. When Sex and the City went off the air, women picked a different show to watch or found another way to identify.

So women generally aren’t writing fandom history. There are a few notable exceptions. Fan History is one but our major contributors early on came from spaces dominated by guys or from educational backgrounds where the approach more systematic, quantitative, regimented. Some of the other exceptions came out of competition with other women.

Will this pattern radically change ever? Probably not. Women might write sports fandom history (And they do. Some have found walls that their sisters in media fandom haven’t encountered because of their gender.)  but they will probably remain in the minority for a long time. Women are so closely identified with media fandom and the source code has those identity issues that I see it as a huge barrier to overcome, and that won’t ever be overcome in terms of similar participation by men in sports fandom history documenting.

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