New Genre Personality: The Sports Fan!

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Welcome to the second post in a four-part series about my new Genre Personalities! My “What’s Your Genre Personality” Quiz is my oldest and most popular product on TPT. I update it every summer for Back-to School, but this year, I’ve got the biggest update ever! I’ve added four new Genre Personalities!

Read more about what’s included in the update

Each week this month, I will feature a new Genre Personality. The update will go live on June 30, 2020 in both my TPT store and my MrsReaderPants blog store. The price will go up, but if you buy before the update goes live on June 30, you can lock in the current price and still get the update on June 30. If you have already purchased the Genre Personality Quiz, you can download the update free starting June 30. Both the elementary and secondary versions are getting the update.

MEET…THE SPORTS FAN!

The Sports Fan is exactly what it sounds like: these are the students who live and breathe sports!

To be honest, this is the Personality I understand the least. I score very low as a Sports Fan personality, even though I played basketball and softball in middle and high school. It’s not that I don’t like sports; it’s that I don’t love them in the way a Sports Fan does.

In the original version of the Genre Personality Quiz, I had Sports Fans as part of The Realist Personality. They really needed to be separated. Realists may enjoy sports fiction, but these two Personalities really are not the same. They probably wouldn’t even cross paths very often in real life. I know if I hadn’t married into a football family, I probably would not know any Sports Fans outside of my students and coaches at school. None of my friends are Sports Fans; in fact, I can’t think of even one of my friends who cares about sports at all (beyond just staying active and healthy).

I thought about calling this one The Athlete instead, but I didn’t like the idea that Sports Fans have to be athletic. They don’t.

WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A SPORTS FAN?

After living in Texas for 18 years, I’ve know many Sports Fan students and teachers/coaches. My husband’s family is full of Sports Fans. Here are some things the Sports Fans I know have in common:

  • They follow professional sports closely. They know the players’ names, their stats, their teams, their history. They can name coaches, mascots, fields, arenas, stadiums.
  • They love ESPN, sports radio, and sports podcasts.
  • They know the names and stats of new players on the horizon.
  • They watch sports drafts every year on TV.
  • They love sports movies like Miracle, Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans, and Any Given Sunday.
  • They play fantasy sports such as Fantasy Football.
  • When playing Trivial Pursuit, they get the orange pie piece first.
  • They have many opinions about coaches, referees, calls, team politics, organizations, drafts, and loads more.
  • They yell at the TV when sports are on. The Sports Fan feels every victory, disappointment, and bad call that their team experiences. It can literally affect their mood for the rest of the day.
  • They talk sports with other Sports Fans.
  • They play sports.
  • Their friends are Sports Fans, too.
  • They are competitive.
  • They are busy, especially if they play organized sports.
  • Any decor in their bedrooms, lockers, notebooks, etc. will have sports on it. My brother-in-law has a Dallas Cowboys Christmas tree, bathroom, and office. In their family photos, they often wear Dallas Cowboys gear.

WHAT BOOKS DO SPORTS FANS LOVE?

Being from Texas, I know many Sports Fans. The problem is, many Sports Fans don’t hang out in the library. I don’t know them as well as I know Escapists or Realists or Questioners. They tend to be those students whose teacher sends to the library to talk to me for a book recommendation. If they are in the library at lunch or recess, it’s because they broke a bone and can’t play outside. Before and after school, many Sports Fans are at practice or games and could not come to the library even if they wanted to.

So what books do Sports Fans love? Well…this is tough because many Sports Fans just don’t read for fun. For my middle and high school Sports Fans, I usually have the best luck with books by Mike Lupica, Tim Green, Carl Deuker, and John Feinstein. Gym Candy by Carl Deuker has been a go-to for my booktalks for years because I loved the book so much. More recently, I read The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves, which would also be a great choice for Sports Fans, particularly those into weight-lifting.

Magazines like Sports Illustrated and ESPN are also popular with Sports Fans. Librarians might also look into specialty sports magazines like World Soccer or Young Rider (horseback riders). What’s sad is that specialty magazines seem to be dying out or going all-online. American Cheerleader, Transworld Skateboarding, and BMX magazines were popular in my libraries years ago, but I haven’t been able to get them in print for awhile. I’m not seeing suitable substitutes for middle school, either. Even ESPN magazine went all-digital in 2019.

DO SPORTS FANS HAVE TO BE GOOD AT SPORTS?

No way! I mentioned this in my discussion of Artists last week. Plenty of students love sports (or art) but are not superstars at it. One can love sports and not be the greatest player. Just as Artists create because they love it, Sports Fans play because they love it.

Being “the best” is not at all needed to be a true Sports Fan. Considering the competitive nature of sports, I think this is an important point to discuss with students when talking about the Sports Fan Genre Personality.

It’s the competitive nature of sports that turns me–and probably others–off to it. Does the competitive-ness of sport also deter some Sports Fans from wanting to play? I would bet so. When I was in fifth grade, I was one of only about three girls who played football at recess with the boys. But, y’all, those boys could get SO MEAN about it if you dropped the ball or weren’t fast enough or whatever. They were especially hard on the girls, which made it not fun at all. That year was the only time in my whole life I ever played football. While I’ve tossed the ball with my boys a few times, I have zero desire to play football, even though the opportunity comes up at Thanksgiving every year.

I want to apologize in advance that all my Sports Fan profiles below are football players. I tried very hard to think of other Sports Fans–cheerleaders, skateboarders, swimmers, basketball players–but I could not think of anyone who was a Sports Fan to the degree of the football fans I know. What can I say? The majority of my teaching career was spent in Texas (where football is religion), and while my two Chinese schools both had sports programs, nothing I ever saw in China rose to the fervor that football does in Texas.

 

WHO IS THE SPORTS FAN BASED ON?

MATT: THE FOOTBALL PLAYER

Matt’s father was the head football coach at my middle school, and Matt was one of my favorite Sports Fans in the library. As an eighth grader, he was a huge boy who towered over most of his teachers and classmates. He was raised well though because all these years later, I remember his good manners and willingness to help out (his father was the same way). Matt was a football player also, and any time I needed something heavy moved in the library, Matt was always happy to help with it. He would bring a couple of friends, and they would move whatever I needed moving (usually heavy book cases because I rearranged the library often).

Matt was a smart boy, and he did sometimes come to the library on his own to check out library books. When he read, it tended to be sports fiction (especially Tim Green) or action-packed science fiction books. I remember that he really loved Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind.

JESSIE: ANOTHER FOOTBALL PLAYER

Jessie worked as my library assistant in her eighth grade year. She was hard-working, smart, and incredibly driven. Jessie was the first (possibly only) girl who played on our middle school’s football team. She never made a big deal about it, but I know she was up against considerable odds on that team. I would imagine she dealt with some bullying and possibly even some sexual harassment as part of the team.

But Jessie loved football! She played because that’s what she loved. In the off-season, she ran track and played volleyball. Her quiet strength still gives me chills. She was fierce! I have no idea what she’s doing now, but I’m sure it’s something moving and important and challenging of the status quo.

Jessie was dyslexic–finally identified in eighth grade–and she worked hard to maintain her good grades. She also pushed herself to read more fiction, and I was on a constant look-out for new library books featuring girls in boy-dominated sports. Even today, when I read about a new book coming out with a girl playing football with the boys, I think of Jessie and how I might have ordered this book for her.

SOME OF MY IN-LAWS

My side of the family couldn’t care two licks about sports. We all enjoy being active, but we don’t follow professional sports or talk about sports. My sister does triathlons. My dad plays tennis. I like to roller skate. None of these things are our whole lives, and none of us follow any professional sports. I could not tell you the name of even one professional roller skater. Most of my sister’s friends are other moms, not triathletes. Sports are just a small part of who we are, a way for us to get outside and to stay healthy and active.

But my husband’s family? They are serious Sports Fans! We’re talking football games (on TV and played outside) every Thanksgiving and Christmas, yelling at the TV, complaining about “bad” referee calls, Dallas Cowboys home decor, and NFL jerseys, t-shirts, hats, blankets, mugs, cupcakes, you name it. Many of them have played Fantasy Football for decades, and some are in multiple leagues.

They can spout off stats and players and coaches and team records from years ago. They have many opinions about sports-related things. They listen to sports radio, watch ESPN, and know all the sports stuff.

 

TIPS FOR LIBRARIANS, TEACHERS, AND PARENTS OF SPORTS FANS

Once again, I will reiterate that the Sports Fan is not a Genre Personality I understand well. I am not great at getting them into the library, and encouraging them to read can be a struggle. This is a list of a few things I’ve found worked for me, but I welcome any other suggestions you might have in the comments. I am not an expert on this one.

1. Subscribe to print sports magazines. Sports Illustrated (whether for adults or kids) is a no-brainer. ESPN appears to have stopped publishing its printed magazine as of September 2019–a shame. Like many magazines these days, it’s now only available digitally.

2. Encourage podcasts. No, podcasts aren’t exactly reading, but they do discuss news and important happenings in the sports world. Certain stories might encourage Sports Fans to look into them further in the news. Podcasts might also introduce Sports Fans to biographies of their favorite players.

3. Get them in the library any way you are able. Start a peer tutoring program to help struggling UIL players–they have to pass in order to play. Also, do everything you can to ensure you are seeing every student on a regular basis. At the middle school level, I saw every English class every two weeks for a library lesson. I also did this for high school up to 10th grade, but a lot of that depended on the teacher’s willingness to “sacrifice” class time. Some would, some would not, and some were inconsistent about it.

4. Invest in good sports biographies and fiction. Put them on display in a prominent area of the library, preferably near the entrance or just outside it. Sports Fans are among the least likely students to visit the library on their own. Do everything you can to pull them in.

5. Talk to your school’s coaches and see how you might support these students better.

Your school’s coaches are an invaluable resource! They know their players extremely well and may have ideas of how you can get to know the kids better, too. Many athletes struggle with academics, so any schoolwork help you can give will likely be well-received.

Find out if any of your coaches are readers. We had two coaches at my Texas school who regularly checked out YA books to read themselves. Set up a day with these coaches to talk to the students about what reading does for them. Why do the coaches read? What do they read? How do they fit reading into their busy schedules? The students will follow their coaches’ lead!

 

Curious about the other Genre Personalities? Read more profiles here (click the link and scroll down about halfway).

Who are your favorite Sports Fans? How do you support them in the library?

 

 

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