Why Kid Sports Fans Are the Best
They're dirty, noisy and ungrateful—and that's just the tip of the awful iceberg when it comes to adult sports fans.
We overanalyze everything, whine about parking and somehow still have the gall left over to complain about the stadium music. Suffice it to say, growing up doesn't ruin sports, but it tends to complicate matters.
Before we grew up and bought briefcases full of cynicism, enjoying sports was effortless. You cheered on the team, grubbed for souvenirs and felt lucky to be so close to greatness. There were no wry fantanking jokes and no sweating the point spread, just love and admiration for the game and the heroes who played it.
Kid sports fans are the best, and here's why we could all take a cue from our teams' youngest supporters.
They're Better Behaved
Kids don't get trashed and beat another kid to death just because they're talking trash about their team.
I've yet to see a five-year-old curse out a player or cheer for an injury. What I have seen is a grown woman steal a baseball from a child, however, which was a real torpedo to my already shaken faith in humanity.
But just when it seemed like the last shimmer of hope for our race had been stamped out under heel, a young man named Ian gave up his baseball to a younger kid at an Arizona Diamondbacks game and rekindled the faith.
They Still Know How to Show Compassion
Remember compassion? That thing we used to feel for hurt and broken things?
It's an increasingly rare trait among the weathered and jaded adults navigating this mortal plane, but not a foreign concept to seven-year-olds like Nicholas Johnson.
A Cincinnati Bengals fan, Nicholas wrote an adorable letter this December to Bengals punter Kevin Huber. Huber had suffered a broken jaw and a cracked vertebrae on a brutal block from Steelers linebacker Terence Galvin and Nicholas wanted to wish his favorite player a speedy return to health.
Even with its threats of imminent homelessness, it was one of the most precious communications ever.
"Dear Kevin, I hope you feel better soon. I am mad at the Steelers because you are my #1 player. I am 7 years old and love the Bengals and Bearcats. I know you played for the Bearcats and Bengals and I love the teams. I hope that Steeler player loses his house and has to live in his car.
Get well soon, Nicholas Andrew Johnson."
The prospect of living in a van down by the river has never sounded cuter.
Kids Focus on the Player
At some point in our lives, athletes recovering from injury morphed from a person into a deadline.
I don't know when this shift from human being to timetable occurred, but I know that some fans merely sighed and consulted their calendars after Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012.
Free from this calculating, knee-jerk reaction was an eight-year-old Bulls fan who sent a letter asking Rose how he felt he was doing.
She sent the Bulls guard a recovery report card asking to him evaluate his recovery, including an ever important box for team chemistry. No deadlines, no, "When will you be 100 percent?" questions. Just a creative questionnaire.
They're Tough as Damn Nails
The going always gets tough—that's just a fact.
The question is, how are you going to react when adversity strikes? Are you going to lay down and cry the saddest river for all the world to see, or are you going to man up and deal with it like an eight-year-old?
I'm not talking about just any eight-year-old, mind you. I'm talking about Jack Hoffman—cancer patient, running back and Nebraska Cornhusker super fan.
The eight-year-old Nebraska youth has been living with inoperable brain cancer for years, and instead of giving up to this awful reality, he went out and inspired the world with a 69-yard touchdown at Nebraska's 2013 spring game.
Better yet, his cancer has since gone into remission—primarily because he's an all-American badass.
They Don't Need 4G to Enjoy Sports
"Wahh! My fantasy app crashed and my iPad won't stream the game! The guys on the forum are being jerks about my post!"
We need beer and something with an on/off switch to enjoy sports. Titus, the basketball shooting wonder toddler, only needs a rubber ball and a plastic hoop.
They Don't Mince Words
You know what we don't get often enough from other adults? Blunt force honesty.
Where grownups have learned to keep our thoughts to ourselves and avoid conflict, kids continue to run their mouths, sans filter, leaving no room for limp-wristed passive aggressiveness.
Take this six-year-old 49ers fan for example. He crafted a dire warning sign that plainly detailed the Biblical levels of ruin that would befall Seattle's fans and players should the Seahawks defeat his team.
"Seahawks, a sea serpent is watching the game. If you win, it will eat the fans and eat you. A virus will come into your throat and give you the flu. You'll probably need a flu shot Fred Meyer. No Seahawks beyond this point."
That is some scarily specific material, kid.
Child Celebrations > Adult Celebrations
His name is Eli, he is five years old and he just scored a goal.
Yes, this is a child making it rain on the pitch—a move 1,000x cooler than a grown man doing it.
Kids Aren't Afraid to Ask the Hard Questions
In our never ending quest to avoid conflict, we as adults will shy away from sensitive subjects in conversation. Kids do not do this.
They dig into delicate territory like they're prospecting for oil—a tactic one young Cavaliers fan named Nick utilized when he decided to grill Kyrie Irving on his future in Cleveland.
Nick stood up in front of a packed gym and TV cameras and asked Irving a heavily loaded question, "Are you going to leave us like LeBron left us?"
Yep—this isn't Trading Spaces, Kyrie. Welcome to The Situation Room.
They Dance Sober and Shamelessly
After reaching a certain age, dancing as an activity is relegated to wedding receptions and misguided karaoke renditions.
Alcohol is almost always a required ingredient in these messy affairs, and someone always ends up limping home with a tear in the crotch of their suit pants.
This isn't the case for six-year-old Georgia native TerRio, who took over the sports world with a simple dance of pure joy. He didn't need any libation or excuse to "kill'em," just a feeling pure, big boy joy.
They Keep the Proper Perspective
Being a sports fan isn't all about the x's, o's and box scores. It's also easy as an adult to miss the forest for the trees.
Sometimes you need to step back, take your eyes off the field and just bask in the scene.
Kids like this young chap get it. They know how to disengage for a moment and appreciate the sporting experience—and stuff.
They Don't Get Down on Their Boys
When did ragging on your own team become so widely popular and acceptable? Probably around the time you realized that your parents and Santa have similar handwriting.
Experiencing disappointment is natural, but we could all take a cue from this young Miami Heat fan who decided to stay positive after his team suffered a tough loss in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.
The team didn't feel like high-fiving, but the kid cheered them on regardless. Now that is maturity.
Growing up—completely overrated.