At first glance it’s easy to conclude that the result of any game, whether baseball, football, hockey or basketball, is determined by events on the field  of play, be it an exceptional team performance, superior skills of a star athlete, an opponent hobbled by injuries, home field advantage, a lucky break , or a bad call by officials.  That may be the way it appears, but in reality the outcome is at least partially influenced by fans watching the game at locations far distant from the action itself.

Most every true fan understands this, recognizes his special responsibilities and stands prepared to do his part once the game gets underway.  It is within his power, he believes, to alter the course of the contest, to put his favorites in a position to win.  How he’s able to exercise such measures of control is never fully explained, but seems plausible to the fan at least, given his close identification with the team.  This bond creates obligations on both sides.  The players must put forth maximum effort while the fan engages in other tactical maneuvers  that tilt the balance in their favor.

So what can he do?  Plenty, it turns out.  There may be few groups as superstitious as sports fans (the players themselves may not be far behind); few as willing to rely on ritualistic behavior (to the point where some shy away from actually attending sporting events based on past experiences when their presence jinxed their team, which then lost).  The rituals themselves are simple enough, but they must be applied carefully and at the proper time.

Involved here is a deliberate manipulation of conditions and objects within the immediate viewing area in the home.  This arsenal includes clothing (e.g., a lucky cap or team jersey), selecting a room in which to watch, choosing the chair, overhead lighting options and TV sound levels.  Whatever the initial arrangements, if the team moves out in front, no changes need be made.  Things stay exactly the way they are – because they’re working.  If, however, the team falls behind, the fan must take action.  His task is to determine what’s responsible for this turn of events and make the necessary change.  This is tricky.  Is it one factor or several?  Experimentation at this point is needed.  It could be he’s in the wrong room watching the wrong TV.  Could be the chair.  He may need to switch.  Or he may sense that being seated is at the root of the problem.  Stand he must.  If his team has fallen behind, while the TV sound is on, he may choose to watch with it off.  He may even conclude that his watching the game is the problem.  If that means turning the TV off, he will – no sacrifice is too great.  There can be no compromise or indecision – too much is at stake.

If after his readjustments the team now rallies he’s made the right moves.  At this point, it’s critical to maintain the status quo.  If, for example, he’s standing in a particular spot in the room, he cannot move from there.  Bathroom calls must be suppressed; his distress will translate into team success.  Several shifts may be necessary during the course of a game because some succeed only for limited periods.

If the strategy works as he hopes, there are two winners – the team, of course, and the fan.  Never could he qualify to play big time sports, but he’s discovered a way to get in the game, and to make a difference.  WE won!

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