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Yes, the Amish play football, too— Dutch Rubb’s challenge to Eagles fans…

Often we say “Amish” when we really refer to the Pennsylvania Dutch community known as the Mennonites… This thriving sect of farmers, builders and craftspeople abounds in the rural areas just outside the Philly metropolis. It may come as a surprise to some, but football is played there…along with a Dutch sport known as “cornerball” and volleyball, among other games.

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“Amish” football game in progress…

Our guest writer today is Dutch Rubb, a veteran poster who lives and works in Pennsylvania Dutch country. While Dutch Rubb is not himself in strict adherence to “the Life” and in fact specializes in classic automobile restoration, he brings a unique viewpoint to being an Eagles fan which draws upon the cooperative team spirit of an Amish barn-raising…

Psychology of an Eagles Fan….By Dutch Rubb (AKA Da Dutchmaster)

What makes up an Eagles fan? ATV’s article a few days ago tried to explain the different types of fans, in a good article that was panned by some. My own thoughts were that it was an OK article, but relied too much on ATV’s own experiences with the fans he has met. He himself did admit it was not in depth and relied too much on his own opinions of types of fans and what makes them tick. It was an article that begged for further explanation. So, in the classic case of the tail wagging the dog ( HAHA, to all of you that accuse me of being ATV’s mouthpiece) I will attempt to delve into the Psychology of the Eagles fan and take ATV’s thoughts a step further. I promise, no words in this blurg were supplied by ATV……….’nuff said. 

In furthering what was written by ATV, I felt some research was in order to further understand the Eagles fan and what makes him act the way he does. For this study, I found many interesting articles about the psycological study of the sports fan. The New York Times, and the therapy based journal, Psychology Today, provided a base for my research. (Stay with me here, I hope this won’t put you to sleep). 

This part will not suprise you, but the modern fan has his roots in primitive times. As I am sure you all have figured out, psychologists who have studied the fan trace his ancestry to primitive tribes, and the warriors fighting to protect the tribe as a whole were the very first “players”. And even those warriors must have had their “fans”—i.e., people who could not participate in battle, but felt a need to root for and support the fight. This often involved a special ceremony before the battle with special dances and food (Nice… the world’s first tailgate parties). Many times, their lives depended upon their team winning the battle the next day. For the tribe to survive as a whole, the warriors had better win the fight.  Makes our fandom’s worries seem kinda small in comparison, huh?

In the modern day, our professional and collegiate athletes fill this role. “Our sports heroes are our warriors”, says Robert Cialdini, a professor at Arizona State university and a well recognised expert in the field.  “This is not some light diversion to be enjoyed for its inherent grace and harmony. The self is centrally involved in the outcome of the event. Who you root for represents you”.  Dr Cialdini is considered one of the leading researchers  in the world and has spent many years studying the sports fan. He pioneered research in the 1970s into the habits of the sports fan, and is credited with the term BIRGing, or Basking in Reflected Glory. He observed that fans were more likely to wear their favorite teams clothing after a victory than after defeat. After winning the game, a fan will often project himself into that contest, saying “We won.” Or…for the bored, ” We smarshed them”. This type of fan tends to support his team, win or lose. And his heroes don’t disappear, even if somewhat diminished by a loss.

But unfortunately, even BIRG’s can switch teams. For everything in life, there is a polar opposite, in this case CORFing, or “Cut Off Reflected Failure.” It is this fickle type of fan who when the team loses, will want to jump ship. This fan will likely not be seen in his DeSean Jackson #10 jersey after a loss. The “We” part of the equasion is gone, and it is now “They” who lost. This fan will want to distance himself from them and disgrace of losing as much as possible.

Are you a CORFer?  Is this what type of fan you are? Everyone does this to some degree, but how supportive are you of your team even in a loss? This is not homerism to me, but support of the team. It is continued team spirit without giving in to the failure of the team and offloading them as your heroes. It does not mean you can’t criticize awful play, just do it with some level of objectivity. Good players sometimes make dreadful plays, and it does not mean they are bad players, just that they screwed up. The previous year for this team has been filled with many “CORFers” in our fan base. 

Now, I know, at times, we all had reasons to be upset with the team, its players, and the management of it. My hope is that this year, we can begin to turn that around. Baby steps, though. I don’t expect the Eagles faithfull to change their ways significantly. But hopeful we can all agree our team is a good one, maybe has the makings of a great one, but that picture is not always clear at the beginning of the season. We need to hang in there with them, or the window closes rather quickly. Fan support is definitely a factor in team performance. This is a lesson it would do us well to learn.

Such is the yin and yang of football. And many of us will bounce between being BIRG’s and CORF’ers based on our opinions of the team at the time. Our own Bri often talks about “Bandwagoner” fans. These are the ones who are BIRGs when we are winning……but turn into CORFs at the slightest sign of trouble. He has a point. So maybe as Andy says, “We all need to do a better job”…….lets just hope this year, he puts us in the right position to do it.

[References: “Sports Psychology; It Isn’t Just A  Game:Clues To Avoid Rooting”: James C. McKinley Jr: Published in the New York Times, Aug 11th 2000; and “The Psychology of Sports Fans”: Susan Krauss Whitbourne,Ph.D. : Psychology Today, Dec 30th 2011]

Thanks for that, Dutch. Open Mike Week continues with PPW up next, Dr. Funt on deck, T-Boner in the hole, and Palm Feathers warming up in the bullpen.

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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