A fan, or fanatic, sometimes also termed aficionado or supporter, is a person who is enthusiastically devoted to something or somebody, such as a singer or band, a sports team, a genre, a politician, a book, a movie or an entertainer. Collectively, the fans of a particular object or person constitute its fanbase or fandom. They may show their enthusiasm in a variety of ways, such as by promoting the object of their interest, being members of a fan club, holding or participating in fan conventions, or writing fan mail. They may also engage in creative activities ("fan labor") such as creating fanzines, writing fan fiction, making memes or drawing fan art.
Merriam-Webster, the Oxford dictionary and other sources define "fan" as a shortened version of the word fanatic. Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1550, means "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion". It comes from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning "insanely but divinely inspired". The word originally pertained to a temple or sacred place [Latin fanum, poetic English fane]. The modern sense of "extremely zealous" dates from around 1647; the use of fanatic as a noun dates from 1650. However, the term "fancy" for an intense liking of something, while being of a different etymology, coincidentally carries a less intense but somewhat similar connotation to "fanatic". The word emerged as an Americanism around 1889. The Dickson Baseball Dictionary cites William Henry Nugent's work asserting that it was derived from the fancy, a term from England referring to the fans of a specific hobby or sport from the early 18th century to the 19th, especially to the followers of boxing. According to that theory, it was originally shortened to fance then just to the homonym fans.
Supporter is a synonym to "fan" that predates the latter term and is still commonly used in British English, especially to denote fans of sports teams. However, the term "fan" has become popular throughout the English-speaking world, including the United Kingdom. The term supporter is also used in a political sense in the United States, to a fan of a politician, a political party, and a controversial issue.
Fans usually have a strong enough interest that some changes in their lifestyles are made to accommodate devotion to the focal object. Fans have a desire for external involvement – they are motivated to demonstrate their involvement with the area of interest through certain behaviors (attending conventions, posting online, displaying team banners outside their homes, etc.). Fans often have a "wish to acquire" material objects related to the area of interest, such as a baseball hit by a famous slugger or a used guitar pick from their musical hero. As well, some fans have a desire for social interaction with other fans. This again may take many forms, from casual conversation, e-mail, chat rooms, and electronic mailing lists to regular face-to-face meetings such as fan club meetings and organized conventions.
There are several groups of fans that can be differentiated by the intensity level of their level of involvement or interest in the hobby (level of fanaticism) The likelihood for a subject of interest to be elevated to the level of fandom appears to be dictated by its complexity. Complexity allows further involvement of fans for a longer period of time because of the time needed to work the subject of interest 'out.' It also contributes to a greater sense of belonging because of the mental effort invested in the subject.
A sports fan can be an enthusiast for a particular athlete, team, sport, or all of organized sports as a whole. Sports fans often attend sporting events in stadiums, in sports bars, or watch them at home on television, and follow news through newspapers, websites, and social media.
The mentality of the sports fan is often such that they will experience a game, or event while living vicariously through players or teams whom the fan favors. This behavior manifests itself in a number of different ways, depending on the venue. At a stadium or arena, sports fans will voice their pleasure with a particular incident, player, or team by cheering, which consists of clapping, fist-pumping, or shouting positive exclamations toward the field of play and ultimately, the favorable object. Likewise, displeasure toward a particular incident, player, or team may be met by fans with booing, shouting of expletives, and sometimes throwing of objects onto the field. This violent type of fan reaction is often called hooliganism.
Lighter, more harmless objects are also occasionally thrown onto certain fields of play as a form of celebration of a favorable sports feat. This is most common when a member of the home team scores a hat trick in hockey. Other, more mild forms of displeasure shown by sports fans at sporting events involve simple groans of disappointment, and silence. These actions often denote that the favored home team is being outperformed by or has lost to the much less-favored road team.
In North America, extremely enthusiastic fans are often called "super fans": fans who dress up in outrageous and ostentatious costumes or outfits showing their devotion. Fan bases well known for their tenacious love and undying support are called rabid fans or fanatics. These fans often congregate hours before kickoff in what is known as a tailgating.
At sports bars, sports fans will gather together, often while consuming food and alcoholic beverages, with the purpose of following a particular sporting event on television as a group. Sports bars often advertise in hopes of drawing fans of a particular player or team to watch together to increase bonds between fans and prevent fights. This can create the sense of unity in a sports bar as all cheers and boos will appear to be synchronized due to similar feelings and reactions by nearly all fans at the fortunes and misfortunes of the favored team or athlete. Due to the level of devotion and intensity of feeling towards the favored team or athlete by sports bar patrons, as well as partially due to the alcohol being served, behavior that would be seen as unruly or fanatical outside a sports bar is generally more common inside of one. The intensity of cheering and jeering at a sports bar by sports fans can often range from equal to stronger than that of fans actually at the sporting event for particularly significant games and matches.
At home, sports fans may have few fellow fans but also more freedom. This is sometimes where the most intense cheering or jeering will take place. In the fan's own home, unbridled and lengthy screaming, crying, acts of destruction to household objects, and other manifestations of joy or anguish, are perhaps seen as most acceptable in comparison to the sports bar or sporting venue simply because such acts taken to such an extreme can be seen as disruptive to a large number of fellow fans even if they share the same sentiment if it is of less intensity. The greatest variables of the reaction of a sports fan in their own home are the intensity of the fan's desire to see their team win or perform well, and the presence of another: often a wife, children, or friends who may be significantly less ardent sports fans or not sports fans at all, which may significantly temper the fan's reaction to a highly positive or negative moment due to the fear of causing a scene or scaring those close to the fan, or alienating themselves from said others. Often sports fans will invite other fans of relatively similar rooting intensity over to their house to experience a sporting event together so that all involved can voice pleasure or displeasure to their heart's content and increase shared bonds in the process. It is becoming common for this type of bonding to take place over sports-related social networks.