One consistent theme bubbling up on Twitter these days is talk of who the true Predators fans are, and what sentiment a true fan is entitled to express on social media. (Example: A “true fan” shouldn’t boo, leave early, or criticize the team.)
It's not Romans fault they just going through a dry spell every team goes through one time in a season it's better now than later the predators will bounce back I believe in this team and I will never give up on them the true fans like me should do the same.— Joshua Kacik (@joshua_kacik) November 17, 2019
True fandom is an algebraic expression of time, emotion, and insight that has resulted in confusion and controversy in the Twitter-verse. To help alleviate some of that social media tension, I have delved deep and created the ultimate breakdown of Smashville Fandom and the applicable discussion and engagement levels each type of fan should express.*
Fan #1: The Experiential Fan
The experiential fan is the person who loves the experience of Predators hockey. This is the fan who occupies a seat in Bridgestone Arena or who watches every game at home wearing three or more superstition-based Predators items. (A Predators onesie counts as two items, three if worn when it is 70 degrees or above outside.) The warm ups, the chants, the cellys, the goat scream, the smell of the ice—these are the elements that kindle their thrill with the sporting experience. Do you have Predators jerseys with your own last name on them? Do you secretly pray for overtime so the game last just a little longer? You are probably an experiential fan.
While experiential fans seek a more self-centered thrill than other types of hockey fans, they tend to make a more significant financial investment in the team. Because of this, experiential fans can call for firings, trades, and line changes on social media but should not engage in specific player critiques.
Addendum: Experiential season ticket holding fans from pre-2017 Stanley Cup run are the pinnacle of this fan level and therefore can express their opinions in ALL CAPS on social media.
Fan #2: The Poile Impersonator
This fan is deeply invested in the formation and finances of the Nashville Predators. This fan tends to excel at math and enjoys board games such as Risk and Stratego. A Poile Impersonator would prefer to discuss cap space over scoring chances. If you lost sleep over the NTC in Roman Josi’s recently announced contract extension or sent your gold P.K. Subban jersey to Goodwill without blinking an eye, you may be a Poile Impersonator. Can you can recite the salaries of the top forwards? Do you evaluate players based on “price per pound”? If so, you are most likely a Poile Impersonator.
Poile Impersonators garner a little higher level of respect because of their broad knowledge and long term vision, and their social media handle will probably involve a variation of the word “stat”. [Ed.: Hey!] Because of the Poile Impersonator’s sensible philosophy, they are allowed to recommend trades and scratches as long as numbers are included in the tweet. P.I.s cannot be persuaded by emotion, therefore whatever they post on social media should be retweeted if it supports your point of view and disregarded as an incomplete picture if it does not. Calling out a Poile Impersonator for lack of knowledge is a waste of 280 characters. They have numbers, and to them numbers don’t lie.
Fan #3: The Player’s Fan
This Predators fan unabashedly plays favorites. The Player’s Fan loves the team, but will cut you for speaking in a disparaging way about the specific player of their deepest affection. The Player’s Fan is not limited to just one favorite player, but is also not emotionally attached to the team in its entirety. If another Predator replaces a favorite on a top line or tips in a favorite’s goal at the last minute, the offending player is dead to them. A Player’s Fan has the jersey, shirsey, bobblehead, and autograph of their beloved and has stood in line at fan experiences for hours for a photo that inevitably ends up framed and prominently displayed. Some hard core Player’s Fans will go so far as to get their favorite player’s number as a tattoo. (Come at me about Pekka at your own peril.) Do you follow a Predators player on all social media platforms, along with their significant other, their parents, and their dogs? If your favorite Pred would be traded, would you consider relocation? If so, you are probably a Player’s Fan.
The Player’s Fan is a bit of a social media sticky wicket, as they present with a tone of nurturing love and encouragement, but upon reading criticism of their favorite can turn into the Twitter equivalent of the parent that jumps the referee after the peewee baseball game loss. They can criticize the team, but will take enraged exception to criticism of the favorite. If you engage with a Player’s Fan about their favorite, use the “sandwich” method of communication: begin with a compliment of the favorite’s play, gently point out an area of opportunity for the favorite, and end with another compliment. If done well, they may not block or report you.
Fan #4: The Fair-Weather Fan
Although often castigated, the Fair-Weather Fan brings a refreshing honesty not well cultivated in other fandoms. The Fair-Weather Fans didn’t know Nashville had a hockey team until spring of 2017, but then flooded downtown toasting the Predators during the Stanley Cup Final. While they don’t have Predators license plates and may believe a Milwaukee Admiral is a new type of craft beer, they bring a jubilance that re-energizes even the most discouraged Predators fan. These are the folks that love to yell “you suck”, but mistook fang fingers for air quotes during their first few Bridgestone experiences. When they hear “icing” they still think “buttercream”, yet they also embrace Rinne’s goalie goal as the sign of a Blues-like resurrection. Have you worn a Titans jersey to a Predators game? Are you pleasantly surprised when you stumble across a Predators game while flipping channels in the evening? You are probably a Fair-Weather Fan.
Although usually used as a disparaging moniker, the Fair-Weather Fan occupies a sacred space in the Twitterverse by being able to speak truth without hopelessness. Do the Predators suck? This is the fan who will tell you. This is also the fan who will talk you down by reminding you that at least we aren’t the New Jersey Devils. The Fair-Weather Fan laughs at Twitter-imposed boundaries of how fans should act, and can entertain themselves for hours by poking at the soft underbelly of a Player’s Fan.
Fan #5: The Die-Hard Fan
The Die-Hard Fan exudes unbridled passion for anything gold and blue. The Die-Hard Fan is a bit of a hockey throwback and would sell a kidney (and possibly a first born) for a true enforcer for the team. Die-Hard Fans have been here from the beginning, and their most sacred memory is not necessarily the Cup run, but the moment Taylor Lewan drank beer from a catfish on live TV at the game. They’ll trade for anyone who will make the team better, with the exception of Corey Perry (because they are not soulless). This fan type objected to the Turris benching in principle only and waxed poetic about Laviolette’s contribution to the organization after calling for his head on a platter like a pig at a luau. This fan can imagine a future without Pekka Rinne but not without the guy who wears the sponge “Rinne Wall” hat.
Do you use the word “pucking” as an adjective? Do you believe embellishment is the most underused call in the sport? You may be a Die-Hard Fan.
Die-Hard Fans allow their passion and conviction to overflow onto social media without restraint. They believe that the more exclamation points and CAPS they use, the more truth they are dropping. If you are mistaken on a hockey stat or a Predators memory, you have been marked by a Die-Hard Fan on social media and will be a target of their wrath and sarcasm eternally.
Navigating the passions and positions of other fans on social media can be a dangerous cyber-liaison. Knowing your fandom can make navigating Twitter less angst-producing for everyone. These fan definitions and guidelines can bring more peace to your Twitter experience and expression.
Of course, of these different genres of Predators passion, only one type is rightly considered a true fan. Only one embraces a full understanding of the heart and soul of hockey with a deep appreciation of what was, what is, and what could possibly come to be. This fan is to be respected and revered. Chew on their wisdom. Ruminate on their insight. It will make you a better hockey fan in turn.
* This is all bunk. Stop evaluating other people’s fandom like a total hockey Karen. Debate, discuss, and be nice on social media. Stop deciding who is a “true fan” and who isn’t.