NFL.com Props to Vikings Fans!
Way to go people!
Oct. 21, 2003) -- I noticed something somewhat unusual last weekend as I worked the Broncos-Vikings game in Minnesota, and I pointed it out on the air to my broadcast partner, Greg Gumbel. "Wow," I said, "They're all here and the game hasn't even started yet."
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I was referring to the fans. And it is unusual these days to see a stadium full of people as the home team is being introduced. You go to the game, enjoy your good food and beverages in the parking lot before the game. But if you're paying all that money for a ticket to the game, you might as well be in your seat when the game starts, right?
I bring this up for a couple of reasons. There is a growing trend in all of sports. It's in the pros, but I've noticed it in college more than ever this year. And I'll even hear it on the occasions I get a chance to catch a high school game: People being immediately dissatisfied with what is going on in the game.
If the home team doesn't get a first down or move the ball in their first drive, you hear a noticeable booing, or at least some dissatisfaction from the fans.
I may be an announcer and a former player, but I am also a fan myself. And I don't understand what it is. It borders on animosity. The prevailing thought is "We can do better," or "You should be doing better." And it really perplexes me.
There's a lot about fan behavior that perplexes me. And I guess another reason I bring it up is the reaction of the Chicago Cubs fans last week when that poor kid reached out for the foul ball in Game 6 of the NLCS. Who can think fast enough when there is a fly ball coming in your direction at a major-league ballpark to think, "Oh no, don't try to catch this, because maybe the left fielder has a chance at it?" Who thinks that fast? Anybody who says they can is not telling the truth.
But the reaction from everyone else -- the throwing of beer, the cursing, the meanness, even death threats -- are you kidding me? It's so absurd, it's amazing that we're even talking about it.
Randy Moss and the Vikings have the support of their fans.
On the other side of the spectrum is the response from the fans in Minnesota. It was positive all day long. I understand we're talking about an undefeated football team, but there were a couple of moments in the game where lesser fans might have reacted badly. Minnesota went three-and-out a few times and Denver was fighting back, but you never heard more than a few concerned groans. And when crunch time rolled around, when Denver was trying to drive for a tying score, the crowd was such a factor in the game. I know it's a dome, but they still have to make the noise -- and they did it at the right time. What an enjoyable experience for everybody involved.
It's always much easier to enjoy what you're doing than to moan or express hate and displeasure. That takes energy.
Maybe I'm not a good judge. But I love going to sporting events and I can't imagine going to a sporting event and cursing or booing the players. I might be quiet, but I just don't know why you would be vocal against the home team. Why would you want to do that?
Now, I'm sure the Vikings fans weren't as positive when their team was losing games. But you don't go from being the bitter kind of fan I'm talking about to being the fan that is there now. Nobody does that. My take is that Vikings fans probably handled the rough 2002 season much better than most NFL fans around the country would have.
There's no need for me to point out the bad fans, but I have done games where teams have just one loss and they're having a terrific year and the fans are on edge right from the start -- "Come on, satisfy me immediately or I'm going to voice my displeasure." I can hear it and see it right away in those stadiums, and there are plenty of them out there.
Unfortunately, I've noticed it more and more in NFL stadiums, and I notice it much more now in college football, too. Heaven forbid, that kid who is playing for scholarship money doesn't win every week!
The fans accept nothing but perfection. And it's not enough to just win these days -- you have to win with style. It's amazing to me when I read stories about "sloppy victories." I know how hard it is to win, especially in pro football, and any win should be appreciated.
It's just like politics: None of us majored in it and none of us know a whole lot about it, but we have an incredible amount of opinions towards it. The same goes for coaches and players in any sport. "He shouldn't have done this" or "He's not playing well," etc., etc.
I'm guessing that a lot of the fans I'm talking about probably don't read this column. But if you are one of them, just do me this favor: Have a positive outlook and enjoy the game when you go. Be positive. You will be surprised how that can filter down to the field and help the home team play better. And maybe you can even be a part of winning the game.
NFL.com Props to Vikings Fans!