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 The word fanatic derives from Latin fanaticus, meaning ‘of a temple’ or ‘inspired by a god’, from fanum ‘temple’.

Fanaticism is an outlook, belief or behavior especially as exhibited by excessive enthusiasm, unreasoning zeal, or wild and extravagant notions on some subject.

Fans are enthusiastic devotees, followers, or admirers of a sport, pastime, celebrity, person, interest or product. They are also known as an aficionado, supporter, booster or patron. 

Fans of a particular interest or person constitute its fanbase or fandom. 

The subject of fan interest can be narrowly defined, focused on something like an individual or more widely defined, encompassing am entire hobby,interest, sport, genres or fashions.

Fans cheer, chant, sing and applaud with approval at events when they are satisfied with the performance. 

When Fans are disappointed they chant, jeer, whistle and BOO. 

Fans who commit acts of vandalism , criminal damage, start fights and throw things are known as "Hooligans".

Fans that go to the extreme with their devotion are known as a "Super Fan".

A fanboy/fangirl is a person who is highly devoted and biased in opinion towards a single subject or hobby within a given field.

Trekkies are fans obsessed with Gene Roddenberry's  Star Trek .

Fan Characteristics

Loren G. "Sam" Licktieg death caused by the Kansas City Chiefs

There are certain common characteristics to be found in fans interested in different topics and that these characteristics influence the behaviors of those involved in fan behavior Those common characteristics include:


  • internal involvement. Fans focus more of their time and resources intently on a specific area of interest than a non-fan would, and are not significantly concerned if non-fans (including family or friends) don't derive pleasure from the area of interest. Fans usually have a strong enough interest that small to major changes in their lifestyles are made to accommodate devotion to the focal object.

  • desire for external involvement - are motivated to demonstrate their involvement with the area of interest through certain behaviors (attending conventions, posting online, etc.)
  • wish to acquire - fans tend to express a strong desire to possess material objects related to the area of interest.
  • desire for social interaction with other fans. This again may take many forms, from casual conversation, e-mail, chat rooms, and electronic mailing lists to regular face-to-face meetings such as fan club meetings and organized conventions. 

The Psychology of Sports Fans

The roots of Sports fan psychology can be traced to a primitive time when human beings lived in small tribes, and warriors fighting to protect tribes .

Today athletes play a similar role for a city or country on a playing field participating in a game.  Even though professional athletes are mercenaries in every sense, their exploits may re-create the intense emotions in some fans that tribal warfare might have in their ancestors. Today athletes are our gladiators ,champions and warriors.

Sports fans tend to claim credit for a team's success, saying ''we won'' to describe a victory, but tend to distance themselves from a team's failure, saying ''they lost'' when describing a defeat.

Sports fans dedication leads them to spend billions of dollars on sporting events, sports-related paraphernalia, and sports apparel.

All fans are not created equal,in terms of game attendance, some fans attend sporting events regularly and the majority never attend games - they watch them on TV. Both groups of Fan' s physical reactions are very similar when watching -heart rate, brain waves and perspiration all increase .

Mental Heath Experts have found that being a sports fan can be good for your emotional, psychological and social health. It's a release-You can yell and scream and vent frustration. It's like therapy.

Author Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. has written that social psychologists have identified two patterns of reactions that sports fans have to their team's performance. 

"BIRGing." This term is not a typo of an eating disorder, but applies to the phenomenon called "Basking in Reflected Glory." When your team is doing well, you feel great. Research shows that on the day after a team's win, people feel better about themselves. They say "we" won, and by "we," they don't mean themselves, personally. The closer you identify with the team, the more likely you are to BIRG. People who BIRG also are more likely to wear their team's regalia on the day after a victory.

"CORFing" means that you "Cut Off Reflected Failure." Your team was trounced and now you want to distance yourself from them and their disgrace as much as possible. It's not "we," who lost, it's "they." The last thing a CORFer wants to wear on the day following the team's loss are hats or shirts with the team's logo. This is the test of the true vs. fickle fan. It's the CORFers who are the fickle fans. Their identification with them rises and falls with the box scores. These fans can be called "fair weather fans" or "bandwagon fans".

True fans, in contrast, will don jerseys, hats, and almost any item with the team logo no matter how poorly their team performs. True fans may feel dejected, but their heroes remain their heroes, even if somewhat tarnished by defeat.


Credit: Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 2006, Volume: 9, Issue: 1,International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship | September 01, 2000,MLB,NBA,NFL,Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D Psychology Today