Orange Rhymes With: Crazed Shootout fans: A user’s guide

Illustration by Casey Kleeb

It’s that time of year again, and, just in case you didn’t read literally every other article in this issue, the Great Alaska Shootout is upon us. This means that for many of us, our Thanksgiving is fully booked.

In my experience, 99 percent of people enjoy the Shootout in a perfectly normal manner, watching the game with bated breath, cheering excitedly or cursing in dismay after every shot. You know, fans behaving normally.

This column is not for those people. Those people, while probably very nice to know, are incredibly uninteresting to watch at the Shootout. No, this column is for the crazy fanatics, the ones who attend every game with a sort of religious fervor rarely seen outside the walls of a circus tent.

These are the people who abandoned the concepts of “socially acceptable” and “common decency” somewhere around the time of the Cold War, and their antics continue to impress me every year. So here’s a few of my favorite characters who inevitably appear at every game.

First, the garden-variety Super Fan. This is the one that paints themselves in the home team’s colors three weeks in advance, the ones who decide that the best use of their time is to make a billboard-sized sign that takes the strength of three men to lift. These people are loud, colorful and generally harmless — and damn, are they fun to watch.

Next we have the Loyalist. This guy has been rooting for the home team since he was in the womb and will seriously consider butchering you in the parking lot if you disagree. In the outside world these people are probably fairly normal members of society, but the second they set foot in the bleachers all hell breaks loose. Note their high blood pressure and bulging vein in their foreheads. Unless you’re wearing a Kevlar vest and some earplugs, I’d avoid these guys at all costs.

Then the Lurkers. Those people who are vaguely aware that they are expected to attend the Shootout, but couldn’t explain basketball to a patient four-year-old if their lives depended on it. These people shuffle awkwardly throughout the stands, stuffing their faces with popcorn and praying that no one asks them a question. These “fans” are harmless and have likely been dragged along as the only non-athletic member of a group. Just try not to grind your teeth into dust as they stumble through a stuttering explanation of how “Number 23 on the green team just shot a touchdown.”

Finally you’ve got the Crazies. Much like the mole people beneath New York City, these wild-eyed beings seem to have not showered since before Y2K. They drift aimlessly throughout the stands, possibly just to get out of the cold of outside. These are the people who, despite the fact they’ve attended the Shootout for several millennia, always seem disoriented and unsure of how they got there.

I’d strongly advise you to avoid the crazies. Though I’m sure that the majority of them are harmless and misunderstood, I can’t rule out the possibility that a few of them might want to wear your skin as a suit.

So there’s your guidebook of fans for the 2012 Shootout. You can use it for fun, personal safety or even to play bingo in between the games. It’s your call.

Bingo sheet sold separately.

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