Fanning the Flames of Fanaticism?
There is something very fascinating about being a fanboy. A fanboy, in twitterati circles, is not a complimentary term- it usually means that all your physical, mental and sanitary functions go for a toss, and words and logic desert you when faced with your Maker. It means that you are no more capable of rational thought or the ability to analyze. It means, basically, that you are in love.
And just like when you’re in love, when you’re head over heels beyond hope, for the first year or so- you will refuse to see any flaws in your God/Goddess. The tennis player you follow, the cricketer you idolize, the actor you swear by, or the filmmaker you admire- they can do NO wrong. You’re willing to enter a Virar-bound fast train during peak hour just to get to them, to watch them, to feel them, to love them more.
Why isn’t he more patient?
Roger Federer will make you want to weep with his ballet-like swishes across court. Brian Lara will want to make you hold a bat and crouch like a tiger. Al Pacino will make you want to go blind, just so you can tango poetically with a lovely lady. Chris Nolan will make you want to wear a dark, sophisticated overcoat when you write a script.
Nothing they do will ever upset you. They will lose a few, here and there, but you will almost immediately look forward to their next move. You are willing to be absorbed, to dedicate a part of your mind and soul to them. You love being hypnotized, and surrendering control to them. You will feel like your entire existence on this Earth has been orchestrated to get optimum pleasure out of being their biggest fanboys, their supporters through thick and thin, their most loyal producers.
You will react like a proud parent, a creator, when they do something phenomenal- when Federer saves a match-point at the net with a daring drop volley, when Lara defies an Australian attack single-handedly, when Pacino speaks passionately for his young student friend, when Nolan charms the world with his dream within dreams.
You will feel like saying, ‘That’s my guy. My son. My father. My mother. My lover. My God’, and proceed to wipe a tear from your eyes when your friends applaud them.
You will expect a pat on your back for watching them grow, for holding their imaginary hand throughout, for helping them evolve before your eyes, for being with them for so long. You will feel like the adoptive mother of Mario Balotelli, and will wrap your arms around yourself, proud and stoic.
But then, the honeymoon period is over. Lows begin to accompany highs, more often than not. Dips in form, indifference and inevitable losses of concentration- all traits of every Champion on this planet, a trait that makes them human, and more relatable.
And when this time comes, you- their greatest supporter- become their most sophisticated analyst, a studied version of their most fierce critic. You do not want to be like the billion-odd fickle Indian cricket fans that vent their disgust at the drop of a hat, you want to be different and more sensible. You want to go deeper into their worlds, you want to discover the reasons behind their fall. And you will, if you love them enough. If they’re important to you. If your life is defined by theirs.
Why does he return from inside the stands?
And, inevitably, Federer’s greatest fanboys will also be their most informed critics. If they are honest enough, and not too blinded, the conclusions that they reach about his form will be the final word. It will, because after the honeymoon, you start seeing flaws and cracks carved deep into their walls of blinding perfection. You will start seeing faults, and analyzing behavior, like nobody else can. Because you love them so much. Their flaws will jump out of their beautiful craft, and be magnified to you much more than the neutral guy beside you who only hopes for a good match or a decent movie. You will start to see that Federer’s angle of inclination when he serves now is not as steep as it was two years ago. You will notice that his inside out forehands go much flatter than they used to, and often hit the tape of the net because of that. You will see that his on-the-run forehands don’t combine angle and speed as dangerously as it should. You will also notice that Al Pacino is doing the same washed out cop roles, he is stuck in a vortex of his own persona. You will realize that Brian Lara is a lot more volatile in his first 10 minutes at the crease. And while they’re just bits of frustration to the fanboy in you, these are major chunks of truths to a lot of sports experts and analysts. These are real reasons, and not illogical excuses.
The only difference is that very few fanboys will voice these reasons for worry, this personal crisis, out aloud. Very few will actually put a voice to their concern. Even fewer will realize that what they are saying is virtually alien to the Nadal-fan next to him/her, because they see Federer as an irritating boat of absolute perfection. They see him as the anti-Nadal, just as most see Pacino as the guy who can’t be as badass as De Niro when it comes to darker roles. The guys who see Tendulkar as the beacon of what discipline and hard work can achieve, to Lara’s God-given (and wasted) talent.
But you must remember, that these Nadal fans are most capable when it comes to explaining why the left-hander chooses to stay so far behind the baseline and why he chooses defense over offense. Or why his serve is weaker than the other top players. Or why Tendulkar struggles to accumulate runs when he is approaching a milestone. Or why De Niro isn’t choosing his roles carefully anymore. It is painful awareness for these fans, but they are- without knowing it- in full knowledge of every crack and every flaw.
Just like you will be the first to notice that your lover isn’t as slim as she was the night you met her. She isn’t as patient as she was, before giving birth. You know the reason, and you will discuss it over a glass of rum with your buddy.
Hell, his arrogant personality that wooed you into his life isn’t so cool after all. He could just be an upstart without direction. Why did you fall for him? Why did she never show this side of her last year?
You know why. You’re a fanboy. And you’re their best judge.
Just wait for her to regale you with her hilarious impersonation of your best friend again. Just wait for Federer to hit a between-the-legs tweener against Djokovic again. Just wait for Lara to destroy a left-arm spinner again. Just wait for Pacino to work with Scorcese.
It will all be worth it. Also, you will then see how perfect they are, till Federer’s next silly unforced error.