There are a lot of perfectly acceptable reasons to be insane: god-awful childhoods, heredity, post-traumatic stress, simple chemical imbalances, and so on. Lots of people can agree that these things could, and often do, lead to losing your marbles and wandering the streets to scare small children and the well-to-do.
However, as much as "science" and "medicine" may want to discredit it, one of the most common reasons for insanity is actually sports.
According to some of my own in-depth research, I've discovered that being even a moderate fair-weather fan of sports can lead to damn annoying lapses of sanity and rationality. Glasses-wearing people with clipboards the world over can only begin to imagine what sorts of havoc is wreaked upon the once-healthy psyche of the sports fanatic, that person whose interest in sports has passed frighteningly beyond healthy and into a sort of zealotry.
These insane em-effers can be found everywhere in the sports world and can act out in a number of different ways, all of which are easily identifiable to the well-prepared spectator. We'll take a look at a handful of these insane behaviors and, for ease of reference, assign each a number on the The Fan(aticism) Meter so the wary will know when it's a behavior they should simply ignore and when it's a behavior they should run far, far away from in a furied panic of self-survival.
The Fan(aticism) Meter
1 - It's a little weird, but still acceptable human behavior.
2 - You should probably feel a little uncomfortable now, but no need to fear for your life.
3 - If using the necessary precautions, you may survive this ordeal.
4 - Fight or flight instincts should be kicking in - preferably flight, because there's no fighting this craziness.
5 - You're doomed. Sorry, fella.
Fighting Over Foul/Home Run Balls
Pretty all humans in America remember their childhood, going to the ballpark with their daddy and hoping that one of their favorite players (or any scrub, really) would hit the ball in their general area so they could possibly go home with the quintessential baseball souvenir.
That's all well and good, but sometimes fans fail to realize that a small, leather-wrapped object is less valuable (at least in an existential sense) than the safety of other fans in the vicinity. Sometimes the scramble for an errant ball leads to minor brawls in the stands, wherein adults suddenly have few qualms about stiff-arming children.
Overall, however, this behavior is relatively innocuous. We'll give it a 1.
Mugging For The Kiss Cam
Everyone hates the Kiss Cam and is unsure why it exists. But, teams across the country have continued to ignore the collective loathing of their fans and thus, the Kiss Cam continues strong, catching thousands of awkward, forced kisses between couples that no longer love each other.
On occasion, though, you get the couple that has decided the Kiss Cam is, instead than a (supposedly) playful and cute idea, a free sex show for the sports fans of all ages. Look, I've got an internet connection for a reason, and it's so I can watch people humping in the comfort of my own home, rather than at a sporting event I paid a lot of money to attend.
The excessive PDA gets a 1, unless the couple is very, very old, in which case a 2 is warranted.
You know the guy. That fat guy. No shirt. Painted up in team colors like a dichromatic hippopotamus fond of bad beer. Yeah, we've all seen that guy and cringed when exposed to his flapping man-maries, the underside of which he neglected to paint gold to match the rest of his torso, and it just looks ridiculous. He's probably wearing some kind of cheap plastic accessories, as well, to better show that yes, he's supposed to be a Viking or a Warrior or some kind of animal.
This guy is an eyesore and a nuisance. He's loud and brash and needs far more clothing. But, he's only worth a 2.
Going Nuts For Free Food
Sure, free tacos are great. But how great? If you judged by the reaction of fans at US Airways Center as the Suns scoreboard reaches 99 points, you'd think that God had decided to give up on the whole creator of the universe thing to work the fryer at Jack in the Box, and that one bite of the succulent mystery mush inside would cure everything from AIDS to bacne.
It's no shocker that people, as a whole, love crap they don't have to pay for, especially when it tastes marginally good. Inevitably, chants for Free Tacos begin as the score reaches that magic number, and it's gotta be a morale breaker for the players knowing their fans care more about cat meat in a stale shell than their play. This annoyance fetches a 2.
Ahh ... nothing quite matches the aural beauty of the heckler's endless stream of expletives and childish taunts, all aimed at criticizing the physical skills of someone who could still outperform them after being bludgeoned in the groin with a hammer. These people pay money for the opportunity to scream absurdly and attempt to belittle strangers. As a result, they don't even pay much attention to the game action.
If you're unlucky enough to sit in the general vicinity of one of these hot air bags, you've probably wished for a universe in which they did not exist and you could drink your $8 beer and watch sweaty dudes compete in peace. This exquisite slice of douche bag insanity achieves a 3 on the scale.
Rushing/Streaking The Field
The art of a naked and/or insane sports fan jumping on the field and causing a ruckus has been lost. In the Days of Yore, this used to be a much more innocent thing. Everyone used to have themselves a good chuckle once the clothes-less rabble-rouser had been tackled and sent to the safety of the drunk tank. The underpaid and overweight security folk got themselves a nice workout and the streaker got their fifteen seconds of fame and a lifetime of embarrassment that would haunt them to their deathbed.
Now, however, with the invention of the Taser, life has gotten a lot more electricity-filled for unauthorized would-be field-frolickers. It's actually made the event somewhat life-threatening and thus, less fun. But everyone knows what the deal is now, so the insane or really drunk that still go through with it deserve a 3 for braving singed pubic hair and sterility.
It's perfectly fine to appreciate autographs; they're a sign that a celebrity took the time to acknowledge the little guy and show some fan appreciation. Like anything, though, people can take it too damn far. Autograph stalkers acknowledge the line of appropriate fan/celebrity interaction and then take a giant crap on it. They haven't heard a "no" they liked or understood and refuse to back down until their worthless piece of junk has been blessed with the Sharpie inscription of their unfortunate target. Sometimes, these stalkers don't even have a real appreciation for the celebrity they're after; they just know they're famous in some capacity and therefore owe them an autograph they can sell on eBay or craigslist.
These obsessive memorabilia hounds come perilously close to being actual criminals and therefore deserve a whole-hearted 4 and maybe a jail stint.
Plushophilia. Sounds so darn cute. We all love furry anthropomorphic animals, right? I mean, we all grew up watching them on children's TV shows, giggling at their crazy antics and touched by the valuable lessons they taught us about real life. However, not many of us ended up wanting to hump them so good. Well, there are people who find the idea of humping a plush animal awfully appealing. And what better for them than a human-sized one with actual parts meant for people to copulate with? Enter the mascot. Just keep that furry bobcat-shaped head on, baby, and we'll make some magic tonight.
Luckily for us, Gil Grissom and his team shed some light on this subculture, so we all know what type of creeps to look out for if we happen to be out hitchhiking on some dark road after the big game, wearing nothing but a giant bunny suit. Thanks, Gil. This one's a plush 4.
Yankees and Red Sox. Texas and Oklahoma. ASU and U of A. Suns and Lakers. Jets and Giants. They're everywhere: teams that hate the very existence of another team, and their fanbases follow suit, encouraging the blood to boil and the hatred to fester. Even though they have nothing directly to do with the sport itself, fans involved in one of these bitter rivalries are willing to consider homicide as a perfectly acceptable means of resolving their differences in allegiance, in fine Hatfield and McCoy fashion.
There's no real reason for it, other than where each group of people happened to be born. Regardless, the fact that their historical enemy's lungs still function just plain pisses ‘em off. These rivalries often lead to real honest-to-goodness crimes: vandalism, assault, theft, even murder. It's pretty lame, to say the least. This gets a 5.