In 2021, Nav Bhatia was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame due to his passionate support of the Toronto Raptors. He’s such a mainstay at home games that the team officially named him a “superfan” and gave him uniform number 95 in honor of the year the NBA came to Canada.
If you’ve ever watched a Raptors game on TV, chances are you’ve seen Bhatia sitting next to Drake and other Canadian luminaries. But even if you can’t afford thousands of dollars to sit in the folding chairs just steps from the action, there are still plenty of ways to elevate your game as a fan.
A big part of being a superfan is getting noticed. This can be difficult in a room where nearly 20,000 other people are clapping. So what are some of the ways to reduce clutter?
Wear an eye-catching costume. Sure, you can buy a cheap plastic mask and cape at the local dollar store, but that won’t get you access to the giant television hanging over the arena. You need to invest in a high quality outfit that stands out from the crowd. Just make sure you don’t overheat during a three hour football game!
Make a sign. TV networks love to show pictures of fans holding interesting signs, especially if those signs include the name of the network airing the game. Acronyms and abbreviations are always a crowd pleaser, so try to come up with interesting phrases including the first letters spell the broadcaster’s name. But if you’re over seven, it has to look professional. Forget the magic markets and leave it to the professionals.
Be a world class gaiter. In many cities, the real action takes place in the parking lot before the game even begins. If you’ve ever been to Lambeau Field to watch the Green Bay Packers play, you know how seriously fans take their pre-game food and drink. Don’t settle for sandwiches and a beer cooler: Superfans know you need to bring your “A game” to get props.
Know your stuff. You can’t call yourself a super fan if you don’t have a vast knowledge of your team’s history, both old and new. Any casual fan can name the star players, but it takes a lot of information to be taken seriously by other fans. So definitely follow Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, but you won’t be credible unless you know about Old Hoss Radbourn and his storied career with the Providence Greys.
Get involved in the community. It’s not enough to be a strong supporter of a team: superfans must also do good for their city. Toronto’s Nav Bhatia donated thousands of Raptors tickets to underprivileged teams. The legendary “Hogettes” – a well-known group of football fans in Washington, DC, were known for their support of childhood cancer charities. It’s because these supporters know that giving back is just as important as being noticed on the pitch.
Not all fans are made to be superfans. There are plenty of people who show up to games to cheer on their teams, but true superfans are rare. To reach this level, people must do what it takes to differentiate themselves and become as iconic as the players who wear the uniform.