In football, “no single game ever represents the game for players or spectators” (Hughson and Free 2006, 76), as each game is part of the narrative of the season or the tournament, and each season or tournament is part of the seasons or tournaments that came before it and that will come after. These games rotate around the comings, goings, and doings of the players (and managers) that perform in them. In combination, these two elements are what keep football engaging and entertaining to the majority of its fans. They are heavily discussed and promoted in all facets of the football media, contributing to an ongoing, long-term interest in the narratives by the fans who continually discuss and debate them. As a result, to truly understand football, one must look at not only the 90 minutes of the match but also the surrounding media, which function as necessary paratexts.
Waysdorf, Abby. 2015. “The Creation of Football Slash Fan Fiction.” In “European Fans and European Fan Objects: Localization and Translation,” edited by Anne Kustritz, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 19.
In this paper, Abby Waydorf goes beyond the traditional conception of the authentic sports fan as someone who is not affected my the media spectacle surrounding the sport. She uses the case study of Football (soccer!) RPF to show how a range of authentic fannish engagements are possible, and how mediation of sports – like the marketing of individual star players, and wider narratives spanning multiple seasons – makes European football (and other sports) really attractive to fan fiction writers. In sports, we find characters and story arcs similar to those we love in our favourite TV shows. Players rise from obscurity to stardom, are traded and build relationships within their teams, retire in glory or back in obscurity. Teams have intense rivalries, they win and lose games, championships and trophies. Those are all classic elements that fan fiction writers can pick up on and take as the jumping-off point for fic, just like we use characters and plots from other media. These expressions of fandom are no less authentic (though they are frequently denigrated and marginalised) than attending games, wearing your team’s scarf, and cheering them on through their ups and downs.