(or Eustress, Birging and Corfing)

“How’s the patient doing?”

“Well, it’s wait and see…  Bed rest, fluids, flowers, distraction, humor, and patience. More patience than you can imagine!”

“Do we finally have a diagnosis?”

“Yes, his team lost the world series.  Are you familiar with eustress, birging and corfing?”

“Doctor, I’m his friend, do I look like a Professor to you?”

“Fine, fine.  Eustress is a combination of euphoria and stress, which a fan, or a fanatic, can experience in a relatively brief period of time.  This involves identification with a group, and mood dependency related to the outcome of any particular event.  As to birging, it is actually rather simple.  It stands for ‘basking in reflected glory’.  You feel great when the team wins.  Compare that to corfing…”

“All right, corfing.  What in the world is that?!”

“Calm down… Please.  We’re doing everything we can, short of getting the team to correct its weaknesses.  Corfing means ‘cut off reflected failure’.  It is not ‘we’ who lost but ‘they who blew it…’ These are terms psychologists have coined in studies of fandom.  Unfortunately, your friend here is stuck on the ‘we’. You insist he was fine two days ago, when they were ahead in the series, right?  Then they lost these last two games.  His attitude seems rather fickle. Anyway, he should rest.  When he wakes up, please do not lecture him, or scold him.  Being a fan often is irrational… Let him stew.”

“Let him stew…  ok.  So it will be… You said one thing I think I agree with, or at least understand:  Often being a fan is irrational.”

In addressing the question “What does it mean to be a fan”, I wanted to look at things fans do:

The wave.



Face paint.





Flag waving.


Fist pumping.

High fiving.

High ten-ing!

What have I left off?  I am sure I am missing a whole lot of things associated with being a fan, the “affecionado”, the booster.

The word fan is a shortened version of the word fanatic, introduced into English around 1550, and means “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.” The word derives from the modern Latin word fanaticus, which signifies “insanely but divinely inspired”.  Of interest, the word fan initially pertained to a temple or sacred place (Latin fanum, poetic English fane).  Think of how someone has a “fancy” for something — that is part of the history of the term “fan” as well.  “I sure do fancy those pin stripes!”

Actually studies show that being a fan can be very good for you.  It enhances your sense of well being whereas a weak sense of belonging is associated with depression.

Being a fan can provide purpose, fellowship, an outlet, useful distraction, excitement, purpose, let alone drama

Is it illogical?  Well, I mean, yahhhhhh!  Also, to some degree it provides a vicarious life, and can be a source of motivation.

At this juncture, a quote from no less than Wikipedia, the venerable on line dictionary, because, well, you tell me… is dis really true?: “At a stadium or arena, sports fans will voice their pleasure with a particular incident, player, or team by cheering… At home, sports fans may have few fellow fans but also more freedom.  This is sometimes where the most intense cheering or jeering will take place. In the fan’s own home, unbridled and lengthy screaming, crying, acts of destruction to household objects, and other manifestations of joy or anguish…”

Wow.  I now realize that’s what happened to Donny here.  That’s where the bruise came from on his right hand, and then the broken foot.  That’s why… oh man, this is ridiculous!  The tv set was kicked in, at least partially, knocked off the table top.  No wonder his wife was so pissed.  He destroyed a bunch of nice stuff… Mannnnn…. Donny what the hay?  It’s just a baseball game!

Suddenly Donny arose.  His eyes opened, as if a Vampire abruptly coming alive as night time arose… Ready for a full night of feasting.  He blinked twice, turned to me and grumbled:

“Why why why did they put in Bobbleton? We all know he’s prone to giving up homers!  We know that!  He did it two nights in a row!  Two nights in a row!”, his voice still full of exasperation.

The nurse and the doctor scurried back into the room.

“Get a pulse ox, then check respiration.  Mr. Harris, please lie back down, sir!  Now!”

Donny seemed flustered, as the nurse put his finger into the pulse ox monitor.  “Doctor, oxidation seems ok, but the pulse is elevated.”

“Let’s get a respiration.”

The doc stood at the end of the bed, chart in both hands.  He seems almost like a manager, speaking to a forlorn player:

“Sir, there’s always next year.  You want to live to cheer again, you must… So calm down, let us do our job!”

Donny’s lip quivered.  He looked at me from the corner of his eyes.  He looked very sad and still quite agitated.

“FINE!” he boomed, then sighed, and said “fine” again, but this time quietly.  “Who cares if they lose? Overpaid jerks!”

By the way, when I began research into “what is a fan“, the metal whirley bird contraption that seeks to keep us cool is what came up.

But:  Most fans I know — most — are made of blood, skin, bones, basic human stuff. Like Donny. There is not one size, shape, gender, religion, color, political preference, or personality trait.  Many are actually quite cool, at least most of the time.  They get a bit bummed if things don’t go well, but they are not obsessed.  I think my buddy here is in the obsessive fan group.  Too much of his mood, too much of his life, revolves around the baseball team.  I mean, there certainly is a helleva lot more important, don’t you think?

Hello, don’t you think so?


Wait, you’re kidding me?  You really can’t talk right now because you’re watching the game?

Funny. Very funny!