Syracuse Fandom: Same As It Ever Was

Brett Carlsen

A letter to the Daily Orange got me thinking about the state of SU fandom, which, is the same as it always has been.

There was a lot of chatter this week about the state of being a Syracuse Orange fan, and that was before current SU student Patrick Fallon fired off this missive to the Daily Orange directed at his fellow student section compatriots:

There is no denying that Syracuse University has a proud sports tradition in football, basketball, lacrosse and many other sports.

However, it is also painfully clear that student fan support of these programs along with our fan culture in general is, quite frankly, terrible. If our students were as proud of our programs as many of them claim to be, nobody would leave games early, no matter if we are winning in a blowout or getting blown out. The student section would be in full voice from the beginning of whatever game to the final whistle, and every single student would stay and sing our Alma Mater.

As someone who, as a student, fired off his own angry screed about the state of SU fandom to the Daily Orange, I feel as though I can relate here.

I'm not going to firebomb Pat for his comments because I get it. I remember being that SU fan, emotionally-invested in every game, watching others leave without a care and wondering why they bothered securing better seats than me. But here's what this letter did remind me...

1. Nothing Ever Changes. I wrote a second letter to the DO (that I have been unable to find so far) in which I basically wrote everything that Pat wrote (minus the part about the alma mater). That was 1999 or so. Pat's letter was written in 2013. And I promise you, the differences between the two are negligible. Because when it comes to sports fans, nothing ever changes. You think it does because whenever you see footage from the 70's or 80's, they always show fans going nuts and packing the arena. They don't show you all the empty seats or the times fans weren't going nuts because, well, who would hold on to that footage? But it existed. Because in 1975, just like 1983, just like 1991, just like 1999 and just like 2013, there are always fans who stay til the final whistle and fans that don't really care. This generation is not "worse" than the previous one, we just like to think they are. But there's probably a whole stack of letters to the Daily Orange from people like me and Pat that prove otherwise.

2. I Assure You, These Things Won't Matter. As someone who has been there, I think if I could say anything to Pat, it would be…don't worry about it. Go to the games. Cheer your ass off. Clap and yell for the team. You do you. The sooner you do that, the sooner you'll remember why you started enjoying this experience in the first place. And you'll enjoy it all the more for it.

Also, you'll stop worrying about things like singing the alma mater. Because, like student government, frat/sorority issues and majors, that's something that seems like a huge deal when you're in college and immediately becomes irrelevant as soon as you leave. Trust me.

3. Fans Are Fans. All fanbases are 95% the same. They're mostly made up of fair-weather bystanders mixed with a few die-hards. They want a good team to root for but don't have the energy to care about a bad one. If the team wins, they'll show up. If the team loses, they won't. If it's a close game, they'll stay. If it's a blowout, they'll leave. And ultimately, most people don't live or die with the outcome of a game anyway. Give me almost any college or pro team and I just described their fanbase. It's not a Syracuse thing. It's a fan thing.


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