The Current

Cancelling plans and spending thousands: Meet the sports superfans going all out

There are sports fans and then there are superfans. We speak to the folks who live and breathe team colours, including skipping out on social obligations and spending thousands of dollars a year to support their team.

'I budget $16K a year to go to games ... If it's something that you love that much, you find a way'

Superfans go above and beyond for their teams, willing to sacrifice time, money and social engagements to be a part of the game. (Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters; Submitted by Sommer Blackman)

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Ahead of the Toronto Raptors' debut in the NBA Finals, superfan Sommer Blackman likens the pressure she's feeling to when she took the law school bar exam. 

"I'm very nervous. I've been waiting for this for 25 years," she explained to Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current.

"For me the Raptors are like a family member, a family member that you see them struggling in whatever they're trying to accomplish … And then they finally get to that moment."

For the first time in the franchise's 24-year history, Toronto is heading to Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday against the Golden State Warriors. The David-versus-Goliath match up, as it's been dubbed, has drawn reams of fans. Many diehards and others newly-acquainted with the sport will be watching the Raptors with bated breath tonight. 

Sorry, can't come — the Raptors are on

Blackman prides herself on having been dedicated to the Raptors since she was 10 years old.  Now 34 and an entertainment lawyer in Toronto, she's as invested as ever.

"People would invite me to things and I would have to tell them, 'You know what, I'm really sorry but the Raptors are playing today so we're going to have to either reschedule or we're going to have to mesh our plans into this Raptors game.'"

Sommer Blackman says the Raptors are like a family member to her, one she's willing to stick by through ups and downs. (Submitted by Sommer Blackman)

It's this very behaviour of prioritizing one's fandom over other obligations that distinguishes a fan from a superfan, according to sports writer George Dohrmann.

"If a huge part of your identity is made up of being a supporter of that team, you are absolutely a superfan," the writer of Superfans: Into the Heart of Obsessive Sports Fandom explained.

Dohrmann describes any significant emotional, financial or time investment in a team as par for the course with superfandom.

'100 per cent cheese-free'

Syd Davy's superfandom manifests exactly as Dohrmann described — plus the aesthetic.

Minnesota Vikings fans see Syd Davy as the team's unofficial mascot. (Leila Navidi/The Associated Press)

The Winnipeg man has come to be recognized as an unofficial Minnesota Vikings mascot, touting a "100 per cent cheese-free" message on his back to "dig at the Green Bay Packers" whose fans often wear cheese-head hats to games.

Davy has travelled thousands of kilometres to get to and from games — both in road trips and airfare. He says showing his devotion for the team may come at a price, but it's worth every cent.

"We missed seven games in 29 years," he told Tremonti.

"I budget $16,000 a year to go to games for me and my wife, and we seldom ever come close to staying within our budget … But if it's something that you love that much, you find a way to do it."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Written by Émilie Quesnel. Produced by Samira Mohyeddin and Ines Colabrese.

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