On Derek Carr and the idea of ‘true’ Raiders fans

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr committed a rather big gaff at his press conference the other day when he said that fans who do not follow the team to Las Vegas are not “true” Raiders fans. Not surprisingly, that drew the ire of many fans on Twitter who are still upset about the team moving to Vegas.

I personally think that Carr just misspoke when asked to comment on what is a complicated and difficult topic to discuss. I don’t for a minute believe his intent was to question the fandom of those in Raider Nation who are trying to deal with the move.

BUT his comments re-hashed a topic that’s been on the forefront of many peoples’ minds. If you’ve spent any time in any form of Raiders social media, you know this is a hot button topic. The question of who is and who isn’t a real fan has been frequently… discussed, err…. debated, err… fought over tooth and nail.

I understand this to a degree but also don’t understand it. I have friends who grew up loving the Raiders and who will continue to follow them and friends who grew up loving the Raiders and are flat out giving up on the NFL altogether. And aside from their decisions on what to do moving forward, these friends would be identical in their fandom before this point. Season ticket holders who own more Raiders paraphernalia than is healthy for any rational minded adult to own and who live and breathe Silver and Black.

And while I will continue to follow and be a fan of the Raiders when they move to Vegas, that’s my own personal decision and I don’t judge those who choose a different path forward.

Fandom is a personal thing. For some, the fandom is handed down through their families. For some, it was an event or a game or a player who we saw in our youth that influenced us.

For me, it was growing up in the shadow of San Francisco and the dominant era of the 49ers with no team to call my own. Much of my early childhood years were while the Raiders were in Los Angeles and everyone as far as the eye could see in the Bay Area were Niners fans. As an Oaklander who grew up as a big baseball and football fan, I didn’t understand why we got our own baseball team but not our own football team and I didn’t want to root for the San Francisco team. But that team in LA who used to be in Oakland with the cool pirate pictures? That sounded like fun. (Remember, I was like 7 or 8, Pirates were bad ass in my mind).

And so I became a fan and over the years that fandom grew into such an unhealthy obsession, I now run a website and blog dedicated to the Raiders and am extremely lucky to have found a wife willing to deal with my mistress in Silver and Black.

But that’s my story. That’s what fandom means to me. And I don’t believe anyone else’s definition of what fandom means to them is wrong. Fandom is based on personal experiences and memories. It’s built on emotion and countless hours and dollars are spent on it. All that matters when it comes to being a fan is doing what is true to yourself.

Some judge my college fandom and I couldn’t care less. You see I was raised as a Cal football fan. My father and lots of my family went there and I’ve been going to games since I was a toddler. But when it was time to go to college, I ended up at UCLA where I started to get into college basketball for the first time. As a result, I’m a die hard Cal football fan and a big time UCLA basketball fan.

Sounds nutty, right? I don’t care. It’s MY fandom. It’s based on MY life experiences.

But that’s what’s great about fandom. It’s personal. You can be a fan in your own way and it has no impact on how I am a fan. Maybe you never would have even gone to UCLA or maybe you would have just ignored their sports if you did go. That would have been your choice and there would have been nothing wrong with it.

But I made my choice and my fandom is as legitimate as anyone else’s and you know why? Because only I can decide whether I’m a real fan or not because I only care about my own decisions on the matter.

So rather than spending time trying to carve out a definition of what a true Raiders fan is, you’d be better served simply focusing on your own fandom and getting the most out of that experience. Because at the end of the day, that’s what this is all about. Sports are a distraction from the monotony of our lives. A way to escape into an exciting and fun alternate reality where our work and life stresses can be forgotten as we put all focus on the teams we love.

1 Comment

  • Excellent point. I’m from the L.A. area and grew up with the L.A. Raiders. When they moved back to Oakland, to me, it was blasphemy. It took a few years before Oakland Raiders flowed out my mouth without stuttering L.A..

    My sister somehow ended up a chargers fan.
    My brother somehow ended up a Packers fan, which I still to this day haven’t figured out.

    Its all Perspective.

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