Motorsport Voices

#MondayArvo – The fans we want

THANKS to many years attending sporting events of many kinds, and a need to protect a hairline that is (rather disturbingly) thinning very quickly, I own many hats. 

Usually I can be seen wearing one of the motor racing variety, however today when I went out I made a conscious decision to wear my Adelaide Crows one.

Inadvertently, it made for an interesting few hours studying how people cope with their sporting team losing and the broader issue of fandom in general.

I’ll note at this point that it was a conscious decision to wear some form of Crows regalia out and about today. I’m a big believer in backing your team all the way – win or lose – and I think the visual show of support, even after an horrendous loss to Richmond in the Saturday’s AFL Grand Final, backs that up.

Losing sucks and the fact we lost to Richmond sucks even more – but it could always be worse.

We could have not been in the Grand Final, for starters. And we could have lost to Collingwood, too, which would have been terrible.

And then there’s the fact we could have lost to Port Adelaide, which is only marginally better than Trump pushing the button and sending some Nukes the way of Kim Jong. Marginally.

So all things considered and as challenging as Saturday was, you’ve got to back your team no matter the result and I will continue to spend my money backing the Crows when and where I can.

Some clearly disagree.

The first person I walked past, at the local hardware store, saw my hat and actually went out of his way to tell me how he was ‘off those wankers for good’ and how they’d ‘let him down for the last time’. I argued the same points as I listed above but he failed to see reason nor rationality – and this for a man who said he’d been a fan for 20 years.

When he suggested he’d seriously consider supporting Port Adelaide I had to mentally restrain myself: Changing teams just because they lost one game is tantamount to high treason and should be punishable by being forced to smuggle a bag of drugs into Bali – and then being caught.

My parting thought was firstly: ‘I’m glad he doesn’t go for Melbourne, because he’d have ended it long ago’ and then, perhaps more importantly, ‘good riddance’.

If this gentleman was actually as big a supporter as he said, and this was his reaction, I don’t think I care if he stops supporting the club or not.

What they do need are the likes of the lovely lady who approached me soon after. Like me, she was also sporting Adelaide colours and told me she had attended the welcome home function at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday to cheer the boys on.

“Good on you,” she said. “I was shattered on Saturday but couldn’t be prouder of the boys. They’ll bounce back.” I could have hugged her, but public decency would frown on it.

Yes, the loss was shattering, but there was so much good to draw on: the least of which was the preliminary final victory over Geelong that, once we’d iced the game 10 minutes into the fourth term, turned into a 25 minute celebration of near total and unanimous joy amongst the 53,000 gathered at the Crowval.

The noise and near delirium of the collected masses that night will stay with me for a while, as will the sound they – we – made at the final siren.

Every cloud, Silver lining, etc.

And if you’re wondering where the motor sport element of this story begins, wait no further.

I think this is the same approach we need to take with fans who say they’re ‘going off’ motorsport.

A quick scroll though social media brings up all kinds of excuses, chief amongst them are ‘I don’t want to pay for Foxtel’, ‘I don’t like all the cars being the same’ and ‘It was better in 19(insert old year here).’

There was a phase where I wanted to argue every point that these people made, but It’s obvious it’s just not worth it.

It was all brought up again over the weekend when it was announced that, due to Ten needing to save some pennies, only the Australian Grand Prix would remain on free-to-air TV while the remainder of the Formula 1 races would now and for the next two years be exclusively live on FOX Sports.

I feel for those who relied on the Ten coverage to get their F1 fix. I feel more for the hard working people in the network who are passionate fans and put more than required into producing the broadcasts.

But it’s a changing media market – rapidly – and I doubt we’re going to get to a point where more sports are shown on free to air.

I get it if you can’t afford FOX, but there are other ways to follow and though they may not quite match watching live TV, a true fan will find a way.

But if these people are willing to stop showing their support all together because of reasons like those listed above, or for something equally petty and ridiculous, then they are welcome to depart the ranks of those listed as ‘Motorsport fans’. Because clearly, they’re not.

I’ve cited the example before, but recently I actually had a friend tell me they had stopped smoking so they could afford to buy Foxtel and ensure they could maintain their Supercar and F1 addiction, rather than a Nicotine one.

They’re the kind of people I like and they will be rewarded by my continual presence to drink their beer and watch racing with them.

I’m delighted to report that the example cited above is becoming, in my experience, more the norm these days. And that’s good.

Because our sport, like my beloved Adelaide Crows, does not need halfhearted fans who jump on and off the bandwagon just because something doesn’t roll their way or if they suddenly have to pay for it.

Proper fans find a way, win or lose.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have that tingly feeling in the back of our necks that indicates that it is Bathurst week and that all is actually rather good in the world.

Even if we did lose to the bloody Tigers.

WORDS: Richard Craill
IMAGE: Mark Walker

#MondayArvo is a weekly column by The Race Torque editor Richard Craill which will more than likely attempt to draw Motorsport into a broader commentary on life, the universe and everything. Probably badly – but hey, it beats working on Monday arvo, right?