Being that it’s football season now, will do its part to add to the collective world of beer and football.  My wife and I are pretty big Colts fans.  Since we live in California now, we find it difficult to be able to watch a Colts game on t.v.  We have come to the conclusion that our watching must be done in a sports bar.  So, we made the 15 minute drive to sit down, have a beer, and watch the game.  The beer choices at these sports bars are deplorably weak.  Sure, you have Guinness, Newcastle, and Stella, but those are everywhere.

A lot could be said in the way of social commentary.  Are football fans lovers of bad beer? Are the endless Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Light Hypnopaedic therapy that acts to “Pavlov” people into drinking those beers?  Who knows?  Conditioning aside, it seems that sports bars believe this must be the case because they serve a lot of cheap beer.  However, it is interesting how interlocked beer is with sports and enjoyment in general.  That is actually an aside and a complaint that is subsidiary to what I really want to say.

As I sat watching so many games all around me, I thought of what I believe is a good analogy to speak about beer and football. (Because I’m always wondering why people persist in drinking Bud and the like, I’m always thinking about it…who knew a small epiphany would come from football?)  There are all types of fans who watch the game, just like all types of beer fans.  You have the generational brand loyalty fans. Example:  My granddad was a Packers fan, my dad was a Packers fan, and by God I’m going to be one, too. These types of fans have attached their like for a team not on the team itself. Instead, they have attached to the team because of another emotional connection.  It may even be the case that they actually know nil about the team or football at all.  In my mind, this is one type of beer fan, too. These people keep drinking this one because they have essentially inherited it from another person. They’ve long since (if ever) ceased to think about the beer, its taste (or lack thereof), or the quality.  They like the feeling attached to the product.

My second example is the fair weather fan.  We all know this guy!  No, I’m a Lakers fan now.  Whoever the champion is or if “his” team is doing well dictates his choice as a fan.  As long as things go on swimmingly, this person is a fan.  They don’t want to experience the bitterness of defeat.  Drink-ability!  That is what came to mind when I thought of this analogy.  Nothing offensive, bitter, or harsh in the way of experience is acceptable.  These “fans” want the smooth road.  The funny thing about these types of fans or beer drinkers is that they will never really experience the real highs of winning nor the bitter taste of defeat–both are indispensable because they define each other.  These people will never taste a really good beer nor a really bad beer (although I might dispute my own statement about the bad beer part).  They will only be driven by the gold medal winner in the American Light Lager category or the “King of Beers.”

Next is the semi-knowledgeable fan.  These people are there trying to watch the game, learn a little more, but very slowly.  The know a few of the players beyond the biggest star, but even those players are stars in their own right.  He or she might know some football terms but doesn’t want to get carried away.  This type of fan will pretty much stick with that slow learning process and stay pretty narrowed in learning. The type of beer drinker that this person might be drinks what is served at the sports bar, so they’ve had most of the other beers, know a little about them, and enjoy them.  However, they don’t plan on going out to try more beers, learn a few more facts, or learn the more intricate things. “Let’s see, I’ve had Stella, Guinness, Bud, Rolling Rock, Newcastle and a few others,” these people might say when asked what beers they’ve had.  Most people and fans, I think, fall into these three categories.

After this comes the pseudo-knowledge fan, the most annoying of all.  This guy knows all the names of the players, infractions, and has a working knowledge of how the game works (but on basic level).  He has heard Dan Marino say something and absorbed it.  In fact, he has picked up snippets here and there, using them every chance he can.  The phrases and ideas are out of context, the knowledge is extremely partial, and the insistence on his point is embarrassingly foolish.  This is also the loudest guy in the sports bar.  As a beer drinker, he has had all the ones in this pub (he proudly announces that).  I’ve also tried x, y, and Z. He then proceeds to brag about the one beer-fest he went to, all the while insisting that some beer is the best one you can find.  When you do chime in on some minor point, he proceeds to tell you why you are wrong…of course, he is speaking from his posterior at this point.  This guy is the bane of my existence.

Here is the well-informed fan.  Of course he likes a team or two, but he really is interested in the game and goes for all the knowledge that he can. This guy can be good or bad.  On the one hand he might explain why this or that team runs cover two on a play.  That is good if you want to hear it.  It is not so good if you don’t want to know it or already do.  This person can also actually want to be helpful or just show off.  His knowledge really is pretty thorough but incomplete.  He might know some analysis but only because he is repeating. The one point at which this fellow lacks is creativity and critical ability.  What would he drink?  I think this type of person would go to beer fests, look for everything he can, and base choices on what some “experts” have said.

Then you have the fantasy league, stat knowing, bonafide football geek.  Normally, he/she means very well and does know quite a bit about football, to the point of neurosis.  ”Here is where the coverage broke down,” these people might say.  Were they born with this knowledge?  No!  They cultivated it, thought about it, dwelled on it.  Sure they have team preferences, but they appreciate the game because it is one full of intricacies.  In fact, they aspire to be at least on par with the analysts.  Beer geek anyone?  I could have almost used the above words interchangeably for both people (with the exception of a few terms).  The beer geek is always looking to learn, well-informed, and aspiring to the heights of the late Michael Jackson (the cool beer guy, not the pop star…I was nice on this one by only calling him the pop star).  Knowing the intricacies of the beer game, the beer geek knows a bad call when he sees one…maybe a Bud Light audible is not the right call.

I could go on but my point is this:  There are actual fans of the game and there are casual ones.  I’d like to see more informed “fans.”  What type of fan are you?  Are you doing your part to convert casual fans of the game?  Bring them something good.

***I know that I could have included more groups, details, and comparisons, but I didn’t want this to become convoluted.  That’s the beauty of analogy: it’s not the same thing as what it describes, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.***