This also ties into two articles wrote by Brian Curtis known as the Rules of CFB Fandom. Like most Grantland pieces that don't go into excessive amounts of analytics, formulas, etc. this is a pure opinion piece. It is funny and interesting, but his overriding factor is attending the school you are a fan of.
Well, the simple truth is some Chicago kid or California kid that is 18 years old doesn't earn fandom automatically, it is done through an undying passion and knowledge of the history of that school's football program. Part of Mr. Curtis' acceptance in fandom is a college drop out from a school but a person that has rooted for a school since they can remember watching college football and stayed a fan for years is shunned? Wrong! That college student wasn't even born when I was watching my team win a national title. He probably knows more about the team down the road that he cheered for growing up but he chose to get away from home or get a better education in the things he was seeking. This is not meant to be gender biased, so she can be swapped for he you wonderful women that are college football fans, but I don't have time to write each sentence to please each gender.
#1 Rule of College Fandom is Years Invested
My family grew up in Colorado and I was steered towards cheering for CU because they were on TV all the time and I got to grow up seeing something special happen as I got into playing football, a perennial Top 25 team that had a national title, a Heisman trophy winner and success.
My father-in-law grew up in Pennsylvania and rooted for Penn State but spent his teenage years in Colorado during the 70s and hooked on to Eddie Crowder's Colorado Buffaloes. His family was raised right and grew up cheering for the Buffs. He went to the National Championship game CU won against Notre Dame and the family has been season ticket holders in some capacity for approaching 30 years.
So, to read that some 18 year old out of towner that has very little idea or true personal connection to of the history of the team they are just now cheering on being a fan over me and especially my in-laws is humorous at best.
Rule 2-Passion Towards the Program/Unwavering Support
I work with a CU alum. He likes the team, but he may only get to a game or two a year. There is a hunting and skiing season that takes precedence over CU football. For us passionate fans, there is only one thing to do on Saturday during the game. Be at the game if at home or watch the game at TV on the road. You have inked yourself (Barela), you support the team no matter what and even when they are down see the bright side (Aaron Lott) and you care and will be there no matter what to see your team get back to that peak, that's a fan.
Which leads to Part 2 of this, I don't skip out because my team sucks that season. A real fan attends every game whether it is a blowout win or loss and stays to the bitter end. And I have had plenty of bitter colds hit across the face over the past decade as a CU fan. There is no, I'll hang around and bitch about how bad they suck still but won't attend a game. I cheer them on. I rip them for their deficiencies but every Saturday, there is no question, I hold out hope and believe this is the game they finally get over that peak and take the next step.
Rule 3-You Have a Direct Connection
Being a student that sits in the same class as the team's star running back is not the equivalent to going to those games and sitting in tickets the player on the team gave you because you have been friends with/played high school ball with him long before he was on the team you rooted for. You got to hear about the crazy workouts and the personalities of some of the guys you just stared at idolizing even though they were the same age as you.
Rule 4-Standing Strong Even When You Marry Into It
If I was stupid or desperate enough to lower my standards to marry a CSU or NU fan, under no circumstance would I root for their team when we played each other. I may be a bit more cordial like I am with my friends that attended/have cheered for those teams since they were kids, but I sure am not changing my allegiance. I take my NFL standards for one in me being a Broncos fan and in-laws Packers fans. I cheer for my wife/in-laws team because we aren't in the same division and have no history, but when we play each other this year, I am watching the game upstairs or in another house because when it comes to playing your spouses team, if it's different than yours, there should be some friendly tension. If my wife were a Raiders fan, I would never root for her team, I would constant take pot shots at them and it's the same way I feel about the rival college programs CU has had in CSU and NU. Be cordial, but take every direct jab you can.
Rule 5-Being an Alum/Student of Said College and INVESTING into that Program
This goes back to an earlier point, but the worse argument comes from simply being a student. Now if you are a student that grew up a fan of that program, move to the front of that line but if you are a poser and can't name over half the team and the majority of the team's starters, you are simply just there. Did you go skiing or go home and not come back to watch that Thanksgiving Weekend game? That's not investing. Are you a student of your team, but if the team you grew up cheering for comes into town, you are rooting for them, you certainly have NO RIGHT to lay claim of being a fan over me and so many others that have truly invested themselves. Now if you went there and completely bought in, go to games and stand by them, applause to you, you've earned your right into the place we fans since childhood earned before you even were born or chose to attend your school.
I chose a Division II school with a strong academic respect in the engineering field, Colorado School of Mines. At the time of my attendance, Mines was widely acclaimed as a Top 20 program in ALL fields and Top 5 in many. I chose education but two weeks into school, I attended my first college football game as a student... as a CU fan at the Rocky Mountain Showdown in 1999. Since then, my fandom went from admiring CU growing up and trying to see what I could when I didn't have my own sport to being consumed with CU football every Saturday and every recruiting class and every spring ball and every fall camp. So, Mr.Curtis, you are wrong in tying fandom directly towards the school you attend(ed), the overriding factor in being a fan of any program or team is to remain passionate about them whether in the valleys of the darkness or peaks of the sunrise and to have it be what you look forward to every Saturday.