The Accidental Fan: Episode VIII: The Last Column

by Sabena Allen | 3/4/19 2:00am

Over the course of summer 2018 and winter 2019, I have written 14 installations of this column. At its inception, I was excited to bring to light the musings of someone who likes sports but doesn’t always understand them. For some context: when I started writing for The Dartmouth during my freshman year, I was just getting interested in sports and I thought that writing for the sports section would be a great way to connect with my new interest. I think that developed nicely into this column. It was a great, relaxed way to write during sophomore summer, and I had a lot of fun reflecting on my personal experiences. However, as of late I have found myself in the position of a Sporadic Fan, rather than an Accidental Fan. Thus, this column has become increasingly difficult to write. Indeed, finding topics to write about has become a weekly struggle. Because of that, my work will be appearing in a different capacity in The Dartmouth next term. The plan, if everything works out is to create a different column at the art section starting this spring. 

With that in mind, it seems fitting to reflect back on the short half-life of this column. When I began writing, I intended to include instances of sports depictions in popular media, including sports movies. I even wrote a three-part series on the Netflix show “GLOW,” which focuses on female wrestlers. I also wrote an article about the cheerleading movie “Bring it On,” which I claimed was to be part of a larger series titled “Sports Films for NARPS.” Suffice it to say, I have not added to that series since. This is mostly because it turns out that watching sports movies is not how I want to spend my time. Basically, what I would have said in those unwritten columns about “Rocky,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Field of Dreams” is that if you want to watch sports but don’t want to watch an actual game, watch a sports movie! You have more time to connect with characters and take a journey focused on emotions rather than seemingly arbitrary rules that you don’t understand. Though there might be some of that too, so no promises. Again, it’s not like I’ve bothered to watch any of these films.

Another major focus of this column was my experience attending sports games. Part of the issue there is that I have really stopped going to games. I’ll be going to a Bruins game over spring break. If you have read any of my previous hockey columns, you know what that means! My mother will be defending “her boys” and there will be lots of exciting fighting, and of course, profanities. Lots and lots of profanities. However, I’m not sure after that when I will attend my next game. In fact, my best friend, who had no interest in hockey until about the last year, is ironically a bigger hockey fan than I am now. Go Capitals! She watches games on TV, has a jersey and actively follows her favorite players. She is also a fan of Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, so it makes sense why she connects with her hockey boys so much. This brings me to another key feature of my column.

Engaging with specific players as an entry point for new fans was the focus of my first column, “My Boy Benny.” Indeed, the idea that following a specific player could make a sport more engaging has been crucial to my personal approach to sports. From Benintendi to my mom’s favorite — Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask — a favorite player is always a plus. Fittingly, I even discussed the ins and outs of this in what has come to be my penultimate column, “The Return of My Boy Benny ... and Others (Who are Less Relevant).” This column addressed the issues that might come from being a little too focused on specific players, and how hard it can be when a player gets traded. It turns out that was the last true column I will have written, which brings this venture to a rather poetic end. It is also very indicative of my overall feelings about sports, though even my love for the Red Sox has taken a back seat as of late.

Thus, this little retrospective was perhaps more for me than for anyone else, and for that one person who consistently read this column (Gunalchéesh, Dad!). I even threw in a Star Wars reference in the title, another recurring feature of this column’s run (thought you would appreciate that too, Dad). However, this piece seems a fitting end for this project, which I had originally intended to continue for longer. As I have discussed here, there are multiple reasons as to why this is the last installation of The Accidental Fan. I have really enjoyed exploring my views as a fan, and I hope that I have inspired other Accidental Fans and die-hard sports fans alike. Being a fan isn’t all about the facts, knowledge and ability to catch every single game. There are many different ways to engage with sports, a few of which I have been able to discuss with this column. So, if you are interested in sports, just do your own thing and engage! And if you are already a fan, maybe consider thinking about sports from a different angle or even try out a different sport to watch! You never know, you might stumble across something great by accident.