I’m angry, Mets fans, and for once, it’s not because of the team. I’m angry about fangirls, and gatekeepers. Recently I participated (poorly) in a twitter discussion about the term “fangirl,” and whether it’s ever okay to use it. It’s not, and that was the consensus of the discussion, with a few exceptions. That was my opinion before the conversation started, but it got me thinking.
The idea behind “fangirl” is the possibility a person might like a team or player for the wrong reasons.
Go back and read that sentence again. People are appointing themselves arbiters of what the right reasons are for rooting for the Mets. This doesn’t just apply to “fangirl,” of course. The idea a fan hasn’t been loyal enough through the bad years when a team is good, or isn’t knowledgeable about a team’s history, or the stats (or even names!) of current players, is small minded.
Wil Wheaton touched on this topic recently, more eloquently than I, where he writes he’s “a little baffled that we need to keep having this conversation” in regard to the need for people be a gatekeeper for things we love. In particular interest is this comment, where the commenter writes of her husband belittling her Red Sox fandom, but his stance has softened. She writes, “It’s a maturity issue. The immature guys who have this behavior, it makes them feel superior to be gatekeepers.” There are plenty of other good points in the comments, and I suggest, contrary to conventional wisdom, you read the comments.
Furthermore, we should be embracing these fans, for two reasons. Firstly, the finances. Do you think that other team regularly has $200M payrolls because the loyal fans are buying tickets? Or because only people who care about Jeter’s WAR bought his jersey? If people want to jump on the Mets’ bandwagon because they’re winning (or will be soon), or if people buy Harvey or Wright jerseys because Harvey and Wright are sexy, then good, it’s all the better for the Mets and their fans.
Secondly, new fans are great. My goddaughter, age 6, loves the Mets. She doesn’t remember Jesse Orosco on his knees, fists raised to the heavens like I do. But she also doesn’t remember Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run, Beltran caught looking, consecutive collapses, or any number of things that may have jaded me as a Mets fan. She doesn’t know the infield fly rule, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care. She may learn of some of these things in time. She may not. Part of me hopes she doesn’t, that she keeps her child-like love of the game.
What she does know is how much fun it can be to gather with a few thousand strangers and cheer for the same thing. And that’s the only way I judge whether you’re a Mets’ fan or not: are you cheering for the Mets?