Some Thoughts on Fandom

In the aftermath of Vikingur Olafsvik’s loss to Fylkir, dooming them to relegation for the 2014 season, there were a lot of tweets flying around.  But the one that most caught my eye was this one:

I think the last part is some Icelandic aphorism about the devil and flagstones that Google Translate can’t really handle, but the first part translates loosely to, “Vikingur Olafsvik supporters stood and applauded for 20 minutes after the match.”

Let’s parse that.  At the other team’s stadium, 200 km from home, your team just lost a match it had to win (and had opportunities to win), and as a result was relegated.  And you stand and cheer them for 20 minutes straight.

Or you sit at a computer 2600 miles away watching a live stream of comments and hanging on every word.

It’s weird how you can get emotionally attached to a team you’ve never seen play.  I discovered Vikingur Olafsvik on a lark, really – a long-form internet joke involving a blog about a US baseball team, a vacation in Iceland (not mine), sports superstition, and an opportunity to show that all the reactions that fans could have about a major league baseball team in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, could be just as applicable to a soccer team playing in a 900 seat stadium in a small town on the west coast of Iceland.

And along the way, I found that I was more right than I’d ever imagined.

Being a fan transcends language; it transcends distance; it transcends culture.  It transcends the sport that you’re following.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re hoping for one big hit to drive in a run or one goal to equalize on the road.  Whether you’re on the edge of your seat because the other guys have a runner on third and one out and you need a strikeout, or because the other team just got a spot kick and you need a save.  Whether you’re suffering through a 20-year streak of futility or your team just got relegated, but you still believe.

Einar Hjörleifsson, who seemed to single-handedly keep Vikingur in every game over the last two months.  Gudmundur Steinn Hafsteinsson, the captain.  Pálsson and Magnússon up top.  The Spanish Armada, Kiko Insa, Samu Jimenez, Toni Espinosa, and Juan Manuel Torres,   And the first player to follow me on Twitter, Damir Muminovic.  I have never seen any of these guys play.  I don’t know that I could even pick them out of a lineup.  But there’s a connection no less than if I grew up in Olafsvik and lived down the street from the Ólafsvíkurvöllur.

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Paths to Victory

Well, if not victory, then at least to avoiding relegation.

Vikingur Olafsvik has four matches left, and is sitting at the top of the drop zone with 14 points.  Thor and Keflavik are both on 17.

Thor and Keflavik both play IA at home, and both play IBV, Keflavik at home and Thor away.  They play each other at Thor, and their remaining games are away at top-four teams: Thor at Stjarnan and Keflavik at Breiðablik.

Thor and Keflavik both beat IA away; it’s hard to count on them losing or drawing at home.  That’s three points you have to expect them both to earn.

Keflavik lost to Breiðablik at home and drew IBV away.  Best case for Vikingur, Keflavik gets a home draw against IBV and loses again to Breiðablik.

Thor lost to IBV at home and drew Stjarnan at home.  Two losses aren’t out of the question.

If Keflavik beats Thor, that puts Keflavik at 24 and Þór at 20.  But a draw against Keflavik, IBV, or Stjarnan puts Thor at 21 points.

While Vikingur could reach 20 points with three draws and a win, 21 points would require another win.

Two wins and a draw gets Vikingur to 21 points, and probably keeps them ahead of Thor on goal differential.  Interestingly, that probably makes it more important for Vikingur to beat IA on Sunday than to draw KR at home on Thursday.  

And while it’s hard to imagine a home win against powerhouse KR, consider this: one of KR’s only two losses this year was at Fram.  One of Vikingur’s two wins this year: a week later, at Fram.