Are Football fans the best or worst sports fan group?

Football fans are often known for their intense passion, which can sometimes turn into aggression.
Football fans are often known for their intense passion, which can sometimes turn into aggression.
Neetra Chakraborty
Football Fans are the best

For many football fans, the sport is more than just a game – it’s a way for them to connect beyond the playing field.

Football fans are the most passionate fans out of any sport. With only 18 weeks in the regular season, they dedicate themselves to go all out and support their team when it’s gameday; that’s not even taking into account potential playoff games. If you go to a San Francisco 49ers game, you will see fans three hours before kickoff tailgating in the parking lot. It will be 10 a.m. and it’ll be like they’re throwing their own mariachi before gates even open. Across the country, you have Bills’ Mafia doing the most extreme shenanigans like diving through flaming tables in snowy weather. To them, these traditions are a way to embrace their team’s culture. By doing this, they bring friends, family and other fans all under one community to show their passion and love of the game.


There’s a reason why the NFL has consistently had the highest average attendance amongst major American sports leagues. The vibes throughout football stadiums are full of energy, passion and pride. This is not just seen in attendance, but also in their viewership. In addition to their high attendance, the average viewership topples that, with the television viewership of a regular season NFL game in 2023 averaging around 17.9 million viewers. Even despite the significant drop in attendance due to the pandemic in 2020, the fans returned the following season even stronger, with the total attendance at NFL games reaching a record-high of 18.29 million across the regular season in 2021. On top of that is the crown jewel of all sporting events: the Super Bowl. Last year’s Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs was watched by over 115 million viewers in the United States. This was not only the most watched Super Bowl in history, but also the most popular American TV program of all time.


In the numerous sporting events I’ve attended, the energy and atmosphere that comes from a football game is something that is clearly unmatched. The hard hits and big plays get the fans out of their seats all amped up and rambunctious. Their momentum helps carry out their team’s performance. Engagement plays a huge role, with time ticking in between plays. There’s many reasons for fans to engage whether it be fantasy football, betting, or simply for the enjoyment factor. With the expansion of online betting apps such as Sleeper, Fanduel and DraftKings, it’s no surprise that there’s been a huge increase in popularity and support for football teams, especially with constant promotion amongst influencers on their platforms.

At the end of the day, football is just a game. All across social media, people complain about how professional football fans take it way too seriously. But to them, it’s the best way of evoking support for their favorite teams and players. As an active, passionate fan in other sports such as baseball and basketball, football fans clearly stand out the most. Their loyalty is a testament to the power of their fandom. Through the thick and thin, they stand by their teams regardless of the outcome. The piercing cheers and record-breaking turnouts speaks for itself – football undoubtedly has the best fandom out there.


Football Fans are the worst

​​Just recently, I came across an interesting video by a Youtuber named Snarp, titled “Ohio State Fan Trolls Michigan!”. In the video, Snarp goes to the University of Michigan in Ohio State gear, sarcastically wishing opponents “good luck” or accusing the opposing team of “cheating” after the game. Naturally, these remarks incited verbal and physical altercations which included having his shades snatched or being berated by a plethora of insults. 

Ever since the founding of football in the late-1800s, the sport has been viewed as one of the most physical and dangerous of them all, filled with hooliganism and deeply-rooted rivalries. In fact, the first rivalries between Harvard and Yale in the early-1840s, led to the game being temporarily outlawed at both universities before the beginning of the Civil War. Rivalries between different football teams often lead to unhinged altercations among fans, which inadvertently destabilize the sport overall. 

In a survey conducted by Sportsbook Review in Sept. 2023, 39% of NFL fans reported that they’ve seen some sort of crime at a game. This season, the NFL has been faced with one of the highest rates of fan altercations. One in Sept. 2023 resulted in the death of a 54-year old Patriots fan after multiple blows to the head, and another 30-year old Bills fan was brutally shot to death after a game against the Dolphins in Jan. 2024. Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill commented on the death, posting on X, “Football suppose to bring us together not divide us remember that part”

The fact is, these two situations are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this season’s quarrels. A wide-range of factors can be attributed to the violence exhibited by fans this season: large crowds, excess alcohol and the physicality of the game. 

SportBooks Review discovered that 45% of women don’t feel safe attending an NFL game alone and that 77% of parents wouldn’t allow their children to attend a game without a chaperone.

At my first ever Los Angeles Rams game at SoFi Stadium, the stroll to the front of the stadium often involved crossing multiple parking lots. What often concerned me, however, was the amount of alcohol consumption among fans, which seemed almost unmonitored. Reflecting back on the altercations, a common trend seems to be those involved are among visibly intoxicated fans. 

Upon entering the stadium, it’s easy to find those supporting the same team around you, giving the false reality that any confrontation with opponents would be supported. In fact, French psychologist Gustave Le Bon argued that crowds bring out people’s most instinctive primary emotions like anger and fear. In 1950, American social psychologist Leon Festinger coined the term deindividualization. Especially in collegiate sports, where students find it necessary to support their college’s team, they naturally begin to accept their role in divided groups and lose their individuality. For popular rivalries, newly admitted students naturally begin to oppose rival teams, unwilling to view the other perspective. 

As well as the excessive alcohol consumption and push to join isolated groups in football, studies have also shown that the pure aggressive nature of football is causing many fans to go through psychological changes. In a research paper titled “North American Football Fans Show Neurofunctional Differences in Response to Violence: Implications for Public Health and Policy” published in the Frontiers in Public Health journal, fans of North American football are more likely to have neurofunctional differences than non-fans after excessively watching violent imagery. Fans of football indicate lower activation in brain regions involved in pain perception and empathy such as the anterior cingulate cortex, fusiform gyrus, insula, and temporal pole. 

Though it’s unlikely for the NFL to begin implementing alcohol bans as a result of the need for sponsorships, the changing of crowd behavior among fans, and altering the psychological behavior of football fan brains, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of these behaviors the next time you go to a game. Often, high-intense situations can put one at risk of engaging in risky behavior, which Le Bon claims to be uncontrolled and impulsive. Though games can be filled with intense emotions, I implore you to take a step back, and understand that your overly competitive nature could be ruining the sport. 


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About the Contributors
Jack Ke
Jack Ke, Sports Editor
Jack originally joined the Tribune in order to grow as a writer and explore his interests. This year is his third year in the Tribune, and his goal for this year is to write well-written stories, stay up-to-date with current events, and explore the diverse culture of sports at Dougherty. One interesting fact about Jack is that he is a Liverpool fan. If he could be anyone in the Tribune, he would be Shreyas Sambara because Shreyas is a positive ray of sunshine in his life.
Chriztian (Zoei) Torres
Chriztian (Zoei) Torres, Sports Copy Editor
Zoei joined the Tribune because of his strong connection and knowledge of sports. Last year, Zoei took J1 at DV and over the summer interned for The Daily Californian's sports department as a staff writer. He hopes to broaden his knowledge of DV sports and connect with them better throughout the year. In his free time, Zoei likes to workout or go out to The City to watch some Giants baseball. If Zoei could be any other person on the Tribune, he would be Nishita because of her massive crush on Joe Burrow.
Neetra Chakraborty
Neetra Chakraborty, Art & Graphics Editor
Neetra has done journalism since her freshmen year and the Tribune feels like a home to her after two years. This year, she wants to write more and expand her reach, including trying multimedia and other genres of journalism she hasn't tried before. An interesting fact about her is that she has lived in the U.S., India, and Japan. If she could be anyone in the Tribune, she would be Shreya A. because she's such a girlboss and Neetra admires her a lot.

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