The lifelong fan

What does it mean that for forty years you’ve been a steadfast and true fan of a team? The Red Sox, perhaps, or even the Montreal Expos.

Over time, every player has changed. Every coach. Perhaps the logo, the stadium, the city and even the name.

So, what, exactly, are you a fan of?

The same is true for car brands, political parties and just about anything where affiliation drives our sense of self and community.

People like us do things like this.

This instinct is so strong that we suspend disbelief (and create belief) based on something as shallow as what logo is on the box. We confuse our rational understanding of what’s important with our emotional connection to a logo or a team name. It turns out that the name of the team (and the other fans) are a much more important part of our narrative than we realize.

Part of being a fan isn’t insisting that your team win every game–in fact, being a fan is defined as showing up even when you’re losing, even when the leaders are wrong, even when logic dictates that this makes no sense at all.

Once you realize that being a fan is an important part of your self-worth, the most generous thing you can do is speak up when management is about to do something stupid. Because when the fans speak up, it’s possible that leadership listens.