If you’re in Australia you’d know it is AFL Grand Final week. In US terms its the Super Bowl for Aussie rules football.
One of the most popular teams, Collingwood Football club has made it to the final. They have many fanatical supporters. So it got me thinking about what we are really supporting when it comes to football:
The Location? No, they do not play their games or even train in their original location of the suburb of Collingwood.
The Players? No, they are also never from the location they actually play for, let alone the same state or even country. They also change teams frequenctly and we welcome new players from other teams with open arms (so long as they are good players)
Our Peers? No, often our best friends follow teams which are the arch enemy of ours. We do not switch teams to be accepted by anyone. We’ll attend the games with them, but barrack for our own team.
The Jumper? No, that changes frequently. It barely looks like the original from 100 years ago and we are often forced to change it if the opposing team has colours which are deemed to clash.
The Performance? No, success is tenuous at best. Systems have been built in AFL to ensure the a more equitable distribution of success (Salary caps, draft systems). 1 successful year in 10 is a great result. 1 in 20 is more frequent.
So what do we support? We support the idea of loyalty. A concept only humans can understand. Following a team allows us to live vicariously, and display loyalty no matter what in a non life threatening way. It allows us to be emotional in a world that attempts to demand only rational thought.
Football and sport in general is one way we can remain human without consequence. And when it comes to brands, or clubs in this case, people can only truly love those which feel human.