The Bulls have great fans. It is very easy to be a Yankees Fan or a Patriots fan. Be a fan of a team that has come and gone on the whim of accountants and professors. Be a fan of a team with a life time record of 360-478-28 (.432.) A team that from 1999 - 2005 went 10 - 69. The "Turner" era was 20 - 30 with an inaugural season of 2 – 10 and the town was giddy. The "Quinn" era is 6 - 23 so far.
So why continue to be passionate about this team? I spoke with Dr. Earl Shablotny and he explained sports fans two different ways?
First, let's look at "BIRGing." This term is not a typo of an eating disorder, but applies to the phenomenon called "Basking in Reflected Glory." When your team is doing well, you feel great. Research shows that on the day after a team's win, people feel better about themselves. They say "we" won, and by "we," they don't mean themselves, personally. The closer you identify with the team, the more likely you are to BIRG. People who BIRG also are more likely to wear their team's regalia on the day after a victory.
In contrast, "CORFing" means that you "Cut Off Reflected Failure." Your team was trounced and now you want to distance yourself from them and their disgrace as much as possible. It's not "we," who lost, it's "they." The last thing a CORFer wants to wear on the day following the team's loss are hats or shirts with the team's logo. This is the test of the true vs. fickle fan. It's the CORFers who are the fickle fans. Their identification with them rises and falls with the box scores. True fans, in contrast, will don jerseys, hats, and almost any item with the team logo no matter how poorly their team performs. True fans may feel dejected, but their heroes remain their heroes, even if somewhat tarnished by defeat.
I asked Dr. Earl is you can have a team that constantly breaks your heart, never has box scores in your favor, and then never become a CORFer. The fine Dr. states that it will defy human nature and cannot be measured and fathomed and no such cases have ever been proven to exist. If anyone at UB center for Psychology is reading this, you have an amazing case study just reading the articles and reactions to this web site.
I was not happy with my answer from the esteemed Dr. I wanted to know who the typical fan of the UB Bulls really are. I reflected and reread all the posts from here and various sites; I completed market surveys at local malls, and spoke to a number of UB past, present, and future students. After the data was extrapolated it broke the fans into four sub-categories:
Die Hard, Glass is always full, we are just lucky to have a Football program.
First of all, these folks drive me crazy. They are the type of people who have a SMILE bumper sticker on the back of their modern Volkswagen Bug. They listen to Yani. The thing is they sometimes can be correct. Sometime things just work themselves out. But mainly they have a connection with the program and are either afraid to address any conflict or emotionally projecting the hopes upon individuals they have a connection with. Me, with little patient has a very hard time dealing with this type of individual. What I really would like to do is after they go down the wrong path and fail, they come back to you and say how grateful they are for the learning experience, is to kick them in the shin. Not me, if I know this will be a train wreck, tell me not to go in that direction and I just saved a ton of time and other valuable resources. Nothing is more frustrating to me in life is giving up a ton of time and energy for little results.
We should have a good program and I am upset but we will get there.
I love these people. Great to have a beer with! Things are cool. This is exactly what every program (or any business for that matter) wants these core groups of individuals to follow them! They are passionate fans who will make the best of every situation. They think a win is a cherry on top. What is great is the connection to the campus, the people, the tailgate, the community spirit, and etc. It is the sense of belonging is what drives this group. You can see these people at the tailgate with the Ford Explorer with a Jimmy Buffet bumper sticker! Ironically they listen to Jimmy Buffet.
We should have a good program and I am upset where the program is and we need to torch everything and build a strong MAC program.
OK, guilty as charged. Maybe I am just convincing myself that I am not crazy, but I really believe that UB should have a great football program. I understand that college athletics has peaks and valleys. I am just sick of sitting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a donkey. It felt good to talk about going to a bowl game. It was also crushing to be up at half and lose to UCONN. Yes, I do wear my heart on my sleeve. Yes I often have no filter from thought to keyboard. And YES I am delusional enough think my judgments are correct. Every time I talk about the future of the team or the direction I always give my two cents and then end with "Although I sure hope that I am wrong." Do I jump to conclusions, sure. Do I love UB football, no questions about it. Do I think that UB can have a great MAC program, absolutely? Do I think that UB needs to step up and provide a field house, yes. But not having a field house is not hindering this team to a 1 - 4 start.
But what I do deserve is a good product. I do deserve a record to be proud off. I am super proud of the players this year. Fought hard all season. What I do deserve is to see the players achieve success in Amherst on the football field as well as the classroom. I do not think I or any student athlete is asking too much. This group drives a Suburban or Ford Pick Up with a Harley bumper sticker or My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Kid bumper sticker. Listen to sports talk constantly or Side Two of Zeppelin IV.
UB has a football team?
The last group! It has gotten better. The only person to ever wear UB gear in the past was silly freshman and that did not last past the first semester.
Ah, the worry warts. Face down in books for four to six years and never making it to a football game. They have every right not to. But what real connection is UB building with this group of individuals. Are they going to bring their children back to Fronczak Hall and talk about the great physics lecture in 2002on the subject of relativity? Maybe, but I highly doubt it. Have a winning program and brings out these people and make them fans. Have these fans come back to games. Have these fans send money to build a field house. These groups of non-fans drive a 93 Toyota Corolla with an AL GORE IS RIGHT bumper sticker. Split down the middle with NPR never getting off the radio or MOE live in Toledo.
We all want UB to have a strong athletic department. We all deserve to watch championships. And nothing is bigger for a University than football. GO BULLS and watch out for the White Suburban tailgating next home game. I will look to see what type of car you drive!