This was a reply to ECD in another thread, but I thought I'd spin it into a fan post...
If you are the fan of a team it’s more than choosing what soda to buy. It's not simply "I like this when I tried it so I'll keep buying it". Granted that's how a team builds it's fan base. They show continued success over time. They get fans to believe. But let's live up to reality, you are loyal because you become emotionally invested. Like it or not, being a fan is simply more than choosing what kind of shampoo to use. You became a fan of an organization because they gave you entertainment, but also because they gave you something to believe in. You believed that this was a team that had great players, that had great coaching, that wanted to win even more than you did. In essence, you put your faith in that organization.
Who puts faith in an every day product? I eat at Mc Donalds because I believe in Mc Donalds? But I buy Tetley tea because I believe in Tetley tea? (sorry Spongie) It’s a ridiculous comparison. I eat there because I have consistently enjoyed their product. But when I believe in a product, when I have faith in a product, I buy stock in it. I take my own money, spend it buying "shares" of it and I hope I receive a payoff. I invest in it. And as a stockholder, I have a say in what that organization does.
So it is with fandom. When we buy a ticket, we have invested our money and time into that product. But more importantly, we have invested out faith in that team. We have come to believe in it. Some of us (not me?) religiously. We have become very "invested" in the rise and fall of this team. Emotionally we have committed ourselves and even if our financial commitment is just jerseys, tee shirts and the occasional ticket, I think we have a say. I agree with Ed and others that argue “if you don’t like it don’t buy it”. That works day to day. That works with where I buy my gas, but being a fan is an emotional investment (one made over time) and if you don’t get the kind of “return” you expected you have a right an emotional reaction. And that means you can complain on line (at a site like this) and even boo at games. Rant done!