The Power Of Fan Loyalty

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Today's Super Bowl XXXIX gave me the inspiration to write about the Power of Fan Loyalty. Since I lived in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area most of my life, there's something special about watching your hometown football team make it to the Super Bowl. Despite the facts that I'm not a die-hard pro football fan or rarely attend games, there's a certain feeling of pride and loyalty that shoots through my veins at times like this. You just can't help but get excited for your hometown team, especially one like the Eagles who have come so close to getting to the Super Bowl, so many times.

As you probably know, the fans in Philadelphia are about as loyal as you might find anywhere in the country. It would be an understatement to describe them as absolutely wild about their Eagles Football Team. Even with tickets for today's game selling for several thousand dollars each, you will find the seats in Jacksonville filled with many loyal fans. It's been reported that fans are taking out second mortgages on their homes, in order to bask in the Florida sun this weekend, as they share the triumph of victory in person with their Eagles at the Super Bowl. They will worry about paying for this chance of a lifetime later. After all, the Eagles have made it to the Super Bowl only once in their history and did not come home with a victory. They believe this is their year when it all came together for the Eagles, and that destiny is on their side. They have watched the Boston Red Sox bury their championship curse this year and want the same for their Eagles.

So what is it about this powerful force called fan loyalty? A force so powerful, that an ordinarily thrifty person will take out a second mortgage in order to watch their team play for 60 minutes. It's quite a phenomenon, however not an unusual occurrence in today's world. And surely this phenomenon is not limited to pro football. College football, college basketball, pro hockey, NASCAR racing, and so many sports teams all have the same type of loyal fans. They will do just about anything to get their hands on playoff or championship tickets. And don't be surprised if their bets and wagers on the games they attend almost match the ticket prices.

Now one may ask, "Is this an American phenomenon?" I think not! I have a European friend in the restaurant business who loves his soccer games. It would be sacrilegious for him to miss the World Cup Soccer matches. He travels with a group of friends to wherever it's being held, and they spare no expenses. Fans in other countries are as wild about soccer as Americans are about football. Another example of foreigner's spending big bucks on sports teams might be the Olympics. People from all over the world drop billions of dollars to attend games of their favorite athletes. Whatever it takes in time or money, they will find a way to display their loyalty.

Our next question might be – is this degree of loyalty limited to sports? I think not! I once attended a Jimmy Buffet concert and was amazed of the following he had. Both young and middle-aged fans went absolutely bonkers over this entertainer. They dressed up in wild outfits and tailgated six hours before his performance. He played before a sellout crowd with standing room only ticket holders packing the aisles. His loyal fans knew the words to every song he sang as they danced and sang through the whole concert, spilling beer all over the place. No one ever sat down for one minute as I stared in amazement. The same holds true for many entertainers, who have a cult like following. Loyal Fans will go to any length to purchase limited tickets. They'll camp out in ticket lines a day or two before they go on sale if necessary. Then they will put up with crowded airport lines, hotel lines, traffic jams and stadium lines, just to see the action. Then do it all in reverse to get home. That's loyalty!

Is there a way to harness this power we see in fan loyalty? How can individuals get as excited about their health, education, wealth or their important relationships? I'm not sure that there's an answer, however it's a question that's definitely worth pondering. I imagine the first keyword here would be "excited!" The next keywords would be fun and pleasure. It's not as much fun doing things that are really good for us. Most individuals know how healthy it is to exercise, yet it seems like punishment instead of fun. The same is true for expanding knowledge and skills. Too hard, not much fun! Work at financial independence? Everyone would like to improve their financial situation – but it's too hard and not much fun! Going out of your way to improve key relationships? Again, it's just not the same as the excitement and passion you share with a crowd 70,000 fans in a stadium.

So here we are on Super Bowl Sunday. It's time for all of us to enjoy the game and worry about the serious stuff tomorrow. But just for the record, our lesson to be learned today is to find a way to harness the power displayed in fan loyalty as discussed above. Then apply it to other parts of our lives. GO EAGLES!

(Footnote: this was written well before game-time).

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