The Sports Fan:How Rowdy is too Rowdy?

A great question that came in via one of our awesome Drink Guy Fan Page fans!

“When watching sports at home, as opposed to the “rowdy” nature of a stadium, sports fans may have the smallest amount of shared company but also the greatest degree of freedom. This is sometimes where the most intense cheering or jeering will take place among particularly devoted sports fans…depending on the company they keep for such an event.

In the case of particularly frustrating and disappointing moments in sport for such a fan, is it appropriate for such extreme reactions as punching a hole in the wall of the house, unbridled and lengthy screaming, crying, acts of destruction to household objects, and other manifestations of joy or anguish? Especially in the presence of another: often a wife, children, or friends who may be significantly less ardent sports fans, or not sports fans at all?”

Interested in your thoughts!angry sports fan

Dear “Interested”:

A great question, with a couple dynamics that I think play a role in my answer. (And the bulk of my answer will revolve around the “negative emotions” that are talked about here…obviously the positive emotional excitement of a winning game is just that, positive. It’s how we deal with the disappointment or frustration of our team losing that I think is the real question posed here!)

And funny enough, though not one to watch sports on the TV much, I have recently done so quite passionately! The 2010 Winter Olympics created much excitement, and some frustration lol, for Canadians…the final hockey game between Canada and the US found me with a group of friends and family, emotional highs and lows, and a huge amount of excitement and stress!

The first dynamic is, who are you normally, outside of this “sport fan” persona? If you are a spouse/parent/friend who is a person that exhibits much love, respect, and balanced emotions with the people you have in your life, and they feel “safe” with you, then I think that is a different situation then if you are normally a person who has big emotional swings and your spouse/children/friends find themselves on “pins and needles” with you on a regular basis.

In my experience, a spouse or parent that creates this emotional insecurity in their relationships is often completely oblivious to the stress they are causing for the people around them. Children in particular view emotions and emotional responses differently than adults, and can become confused and stressed over negative emotional outbursts that they view as uncontrolled.

A good example is my Grandfather. He passed away many years ago, but when he was alive he was an avid Toronto Maple Leafs hockey fan. He was a passionate, emotion driven, and very loving man, but he expressed his emotions in, what seemed to me as a child, a frightening and uncontrolled manner.

My Mom understood his loving nature, and was not as bothered by his extreme reactions to sports, but I can remember as a child (and not that young, right into my teen years) being terrified whenever a hockey game came on that Grandpa was going to get mad and throw things at the TV, yell at the referees, and generally be unhappy.

So despite the fact that he was a loving man, these outbursts caused me much stress. They did not however, have the same impact on my Mom. So the distinction between behaving this way around adults and behaving this way around children is important, and the difference between behaving this way when you are generally a “safe” person emotionally and behaving this way if your emotions are always out of control is also important…in my humble opinion. 🙂

The second dynamic, which people refer to as “bottling” up your emotions, is often used as a reason for these extreme behaviors. While I agree wholeheartedly  that bottling our emotions is generally not a good idea, I do believe that there are “appropriate” and “inappropriate” ways to display those emotions.

I believe that, as a parent, my goal is to raise “good” adults, not “good” children. So thus, my parenting style is to look at the “reality” of a situation as much as possible, and determine “how would they need to deal with this to be successful adults in the real world”.

For example, in a job situation, they will quite likely deal with a situation where they feel anger…either towards a co-worker, a boss, or a situation. So, as their parent, how have I taught them to deal with anger? Have I taught them to take a breath, count to ten, look at all sides, and then figure out a way take their anger/frustration and turn it into a positive solution, or have I taught them to fly off the handle, throw and break things, and generally cause grief for themselves and the people around them?

Likely somewhere in the middle 🙂 , because I am far from perfect! I do however make a point that each and every time I lose my temper in front of the children, (and all my family or friends for that matter!) whether directed towards them or not, that when I calm down I go to them, take their hand, and let them know that I handled my feelings poorly, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. I have spent much of my life around emotionally volatile people, and I am sensitive to the impact it can have!

Now, this is all much more general, and not quite so specific to the “sport fan” …I ultimately believe that, in the “fan” situation, expressing positive emotions is great, and if you are unhappy with what you are watching, express that too, but do so in a way that does not scare or intimidate the people around you…I think it is almost impossible to break/destroy something and not be intimidating doing so!

Perhaps if you feel that expressing those emotions that strongly is an important part of the “experience” for you, make a game of it with your family and buy foam bats or something along those lines, and allow everyone to participate in knocking the heck out of a couch or chair together…allowing everyone to express their frustration but in a way that isn’t scary…again, just my humble opinion!

I’m very interested in your thoughts!!