Weird to Wild: Sports’ Craziest Fans
Traveling city to city, no two places are the same – food, entertainment and history always have a unique twist that sets one place apart from the next.
Different as customs and cultures may be, one commonality around the globe is an obsession with sports. Wherever there is a sports team, there are tons of supporters who will spare no expense when it comes to showing out for their squad.
There are those who attend the occasional game and get a jersey of their player, and then there are devoted fans who get so wild they are as impressive in their own right as the athletes themselves. Nowhere is the passion for a team or a sport more on display than at the World Cup, where national pride as all-consuming.
This list is dedicated to all those fans who take that passion to places we didn’t think possible.
Duke Blue Devils, Cameron Crazies
No matter how over-the-top the most dedicated sports fans can be in major sports cities, there is something about crazy college kids that always seems to push the boundaries of fandom a step further.
Football fans show up in droves to home games, but Duke University doesn’t need masses to show its spirit. For Blue Devils basketball, the “Cameron Crazies” take their love for hoops to a whole new level.
Part of what makes the Blue Devils one of the most hated college teams in the nation, other than the fact that they’re consistently one of the most dominant teams in the NCAA, is their insanely dedicated fanbase that makes Cameron Indoor Stadium one of the toughest buildings to ball in.
Duke’s student section is so obsessed with basketball that they set up a village-worth of tents to wait for big games that even has its own name, “Kryzyzewskiville,” named after Coach K.
This isn’t just a cute nickname, it’s practically got its own governing body.
Inside, the packed arena feels like a high school gym with students so close it feels like they’re on the court. Painted head to toe, waving some spirit fingers, screaming from start to finish, the Cameron Crazies come together to create one of the biggest home advantages in all of sports.
Look no further than the legendary Speedo Guy for all the proof you’ll never unsee. It’s sink or swim in this sea of blue.
Green Bay Packers, Cheeseheads
There is often chatter about how hard it is for small-market teams to compete with the big-market teams like those in Los Angeles, New York City and Boston. The small city of Green Bay, WI, is one very big exception to that rule.
Amongst the many ravenous fanbases, the Green Bay Packers are one of, if not the most iconic. Lovingly referred to as Cheeseheads, there are countless Packer fans and moments that make us jealous we aren’t freezing our butts off at Lambeau Field with them.
One of the coolest (zing) things about Wisconsin’s fanatical fans, aside from the fact they cheer for their Pack in the frozen tundra like its nothing, is that they also happen to own the franchise!
As if the small community needs any more reason to cheer their home team on, owning a stake of the team makes for quite the incentive. It really is a special player-fan relationship with endless examples to show how much the team means to the community.
From players taking the famed Lambeau Leap after touchdowns to celebrate with the crowd to hordes of fans going as far as shoveling out the stadium so the Pack can play. Green Bay is a one of a kind fanbase.
Detroit Red Wings, Motor City Minions
Hockey fans are a different breed of human. It’s only fitting that a sport consisting of some of the toughest athletes on the planet have some of the baddest fanbases (in the best way).
Amongst the NHL’s fanatical fans, Detroit Red Wings supporters don’t mess around.
The Motor City squad’s roots go way back to 1926 as one of hockey’s “Original Six.” Such a rich history is all the explanation need for why we call Detroit “Hockeytown.”
Fans always have good reason to keep coming back, as the Wings won the third most Stanley Cups (11) and second most Finals appearances (24).
Wings fans are the proud proprietors of what is by far one of the most bizarre, hilarious and fascinating traditions in all of sports known as the “Legend of the Octopus.”
Take it back to 1952 when the Cusimano brothers, storeowners at the local Eastern Market, snuck an octopus (dead, if that makes you feel better) in the arena and chucked it onto the ice.
At this time, it took eight playoff wins – two best-of-seven rounds – to secure the Stanley Cup. The octopus’ eight tentacles represented how many wins were needed, and the Wings would go on to sweep both series on their way to winning the championship.
The ridiculous tradition spawned into something far greater.
In a 1995 game, fans heaved 36 octopuses onto the ice, including one monstrosity that weighed in at 38 lb! Seriously, are these fans beasts or what? That fan’s got an ARM.
Other teams have followed suit with their own spinoffs, tossing everything from catfish to sharks, but nothing beats a Zamboni driver giving an octopus a good twirl.
Keep doing you, Hockeytown.
Alabama Crimson Tide, ‘Bama Nation
attends the University lives in the state of Alabama knows that it’s either Roll Tide or roll up on out of here.
Being a ‘Bama fan is so much more than loving a team, it’s the defining characteristic of all things … just all things.
Whether it’s football season or not, walking amongst the good people of Tuscaloosa is like wading through a sea of crimson (with a splash of white). You can always expect some good hospitality if, and only if, you offer a proper greeting, “Roll Tide.”
When it’s gameday, the grills are out, and the tailgate is on. Serious as ‘Bama fans are about a good tailgate, it’s more of an opportunity to gather up to get hyped and “Rolllllll Tiiiiiiide!”
The “Roll Tide” rally cry can stand on its own as Alabama’s Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the number of other fun, weird and wild traditions that bring the community together are staggering.
Without a major professional sports teams to cheer on, the entire state went all in on the NCAA football powerhouse. As each year passes, more NFL talent rolls through – they take a brief moment to raise a championship trophy – and give ‘Bama fans a little bit more to gloat about.
In terms of rolling deep, ‘Bama fans are second to none. As far as dedication, don’t even pose the question or you’ll end up like one of Toomer’s trees.
New York Jets, Lost Souls
Those brave, brave, poor lost souls.
New York Jets fans get as much flak as any when it comes to American sports. Part of the reason is it simply comes with the territory as New Yorkers (based in New Jersey), but they’ve also earned a rep as some of the rowdiest group of supporters in the States.
It’s hard to blame Jets fans for their disgruntled ways, as the way the front office has managed the team looks like a group actively trying to sabotage its own success.
In a bizarre way, that dismal reality has seemed to bring Jets fans together, indulging in self-deprecating jokes as they watch their team inevitably crash and burn in some way or another.
If there’s one thing that brings Jets fans together, it’s a mutual hatred for the Patriots. Season after season, the chants and cheers turn from rooting for New York to rooting against New England – it’s all about relevance.
Tough as times get, their rally cry is a classic. Once led by superfan Fireman Ed (until he retired his honorary fan captaincy role after the infamous butt fumble), the “J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!” chant is up there with the best of them, even when it’s sarcastic.
Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation
First-timers beware, if you’re on your way to a Raiders game and it feels like you took a wrong turn, because the crowd looks like it’s attending a GWAR concert, you’re definitely in the right place.
Come gameday, Raider Nation turns out and turns up. Way up.
It doesn’t matter if “home” is Los Angeles, Oakland or Las Vegas, Raider Nation is going to make some serious noise.
No matter how passionate, obsessed or crazy as supporters get, there’s no fanbase as eccentric as Raider fans. “Mud-ducks” prep for the game by dressing head to toe in silver and black. Well, that’s really more of a bare minimum requirement.
To truly embrace the Raiders’ outlaw attitude, outfits needs to be taken to the next level. Costumed creatures, monsters and madness, Sunday’s sabbath is celebrated in the end zone.
Welcome to the Black Hole. It’s the most notorious end zone in the NFL. This Halloween-looking crew is rowdy, raucous and looks like it came straight out of a horror film.
Through the best and worst of times – fans have absolutely endured both ends of the spectrum – the Black Hole remains incessantly rambunctious and Raider Nation holds steadfast across the country.
They aren’t for everyone and have earned their “bad boy” rep, but no one can deny this group’s devotion is up there with the greatest in the world.
Borussia Dortmund, Die Borussen
Right off the bat, Borussia Dortmund scores some major points just for being in Germany’s top league, the Bundesliga, because it’s easily the most fun league to say in sports.
The Bundesliga holds the largest turnout for games in all of association football and leading the way in attendance is Dortmund, which can fit 81,359 fans into Westlfalenstadion.
Although the Bundesliga wasn’t established until 1963, Borussia Dortmund’s roots trace all the way back to 1909.
Where things start to get crazy in Westfalenstadion is at the Sudtribune, or South Bank. This terrace – a standing section for spectators behind the goals – is the largest in European football.
Able to squeeze nearly 25,000 supporters of the Black and Yellows onto that one terrace, the South Bank has deservingly been nicknamed “Die gelbe Wande,” or “The Yellow Wall.”
The ever-growing fanbase is so rabid that Dortmund actually opened the Borusseum in 2008, a nearby museum entirely dedicated to the club.
The historic club’s supporters go to great lengths to set themselves apart from the rest. The crowd collective cheer is a deafening roar. Fans are decked out in yellow and black, waving flags and signs and sometimes getting real creative with massive banners that takes the collective effort of the entire grandstand.
Buffalo Bills, Bills Mafia
You best not mess with the Bills Mafia because, when it comes to squading up, Buffalo runs DEEP.
The Buffalo Bills definitely rank up there amongst the most dismal franchises in the NFL (and American sports, let’s be real), but that’s exactly what makes this fanbase a spectacular enigma.
The first thing that logic suggests should make Buffalo fans miserable is that they live in Buffalo. That’s harsh, but so are the ruthless wintry conditions they survive in upstate New York.
Far worse than braving the elements 24/7 is the Bills record since the Super Bowl era. The best it got was four straight trips to the Super Bowl (1990-93), which resulted in a grand total of zero championships.
That never stopped them from believing.
It doesn’t matter how woeful the Bills are (and they do get rough), Bills Mafia is going to show up, tailgate harder than any college campus in the nation, and unleash the insanity.
Every single Bills fan who shows up to game day is going to leave a winner no matter how bad the team loses, because that’s the Mafia mindset.
Walking through a tailgate is like a warzone of fear and fun. Fans dressed up like they’re stepping into an ‘80s wrestling ring, piledriving each other (or themselves) through tables, pounding brewskies and getting buckwild.
Whatever it takes to forget that the Bills still suck, they did and/or are doing it. It’s sadistic. It’s masochistic. It’s the Bills Mafia.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steeler Nation
Steeler Nation, sellout crowds, depictions in pop culture
Pittsburgh may have blue-collar roots, but the city bleeds black and gold. The Pittsburgh Steelers once played second fiddle to the Pirates, but Steeler Nation has eclipsed its MLB counterpart as the top rep of Steel City.
First off, the cohesiveness of the city and its sports teams is a marvel in its own right. Few city’s can rock one team’s colors and still flaunt team spirit for another team like Pitt’s black and gold does with the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates.
Years of consecutive sellouts between the old Three Rivers Stadium and newer Heinz Field is an obvious indicator that the support is strong, but Steeler Nation – supposedly the original “Nation” fanbase – offers a much more in-your-face way of telling.
Undoubtedly, one of the best thing about this fanbase is that they are the proud owners of the greatest traditions in sports, waving the Terrible Towel.
The Terrible Towel is the ultimate icon. Watching an entire stadium of fans waving their team on is mesmerizing. Other teams have tried their own version of the Steelers’ rally towel, but nothing compares to the original.
Boston Sports, Every Dunkin’ One
It’s Boston against the world (honorary New Englander Bostonians included). From Fenway to the Garden, Boston boasts a fanbase as iconic as the stadiums they play in.
Part of what makes Boston such a great sports city is its historic roots. The Red Sox won the first World Series and eventually endured one of the worst droughts in MLB history, which only made fans more passionate.
The Sox have two of the greatest traditions in baseball: singing “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning and hating the New York Yankees.
As for the storied Celtics franchise, winning championships goes hand-in-hand with hating on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Then there’s the New England Patriots. The only thing Bostonians love more than watching the Pats build up their dynasty with more and more Super Bowl rings is talking about how much everyone hates them for it.
If there’s one constant in Boston, it’s that there’s always reason to bring out the Duck Boats for a championship parade.
It’s only fitting that one of the coolest championship traditions in sports is in a city that can’t stop winning them.
New York Yankees, The Bronx Zoo
More Bronx than America can handle. Pinstripes fill the stadium no matter the city. Bold, brash, cocky.. and rightfully so.
Sweet mother of MLB, they’re the Evil Empire … and they’re everywhere.
When it comes to baseball, there is way more Bronx than America can handle.
The New York Yankees are the face of NYC sports, but the storied franchise’s fans come from corners far away from the five boroughs.
It doesn’t matter where the Yanks travel, no matter how far from New York, there are always enough Pinstripes filling up the stadium to make any away game feel like home.
Although Boston fans make quite a case for the rowdiest, no one gets under the skin of opposing fans like New Yorkers.
“How many titles, bro? Try 27. World Champs!” Sure, Yankee fans love bragging about pennants their team won around when their great-grandparents were alive, but that’s part of the beauty of it.
It doesn’t matter if the argument is silly, the Yankees, quite literally, are the best, therefore nothing can rebut some dirty water dog trash talk.
They’re the original Evil Empire – a dark force greater than the Soviets, Galactic Empire and any other chumps you can think of that don’t have 27 chips to their name.
Philadelphia Sports, Philly’s Phinest
It is simply impossible to take Philadelphia’s rabid fanbase and boil it down to one team. It doesn’t matter the sport, be it the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, 76ers or Union, fans are going to go bananas at each and every home game. Buh-na-nuhs.
Loyalty doesn’t even begin to describe the obsession Philly fans bring to their favorite teams. We’re talking borderline cult mentality in the best of ways.
Take the Sixers, who have endured one of the most brutal stretches the NBA has ever seen with one losing season after another. General manager Sam Hinkie repeatedly said to “trust the process” until he eventually stepped down in 2016. Fans birthed a new mantra, “Hinkie died for our sins,” wearing the statement on their sleeve like a sacrificial badge.
Phillies fans are widely considered to make up one of the most ruthless crowds in sports, but let’s turn to the Eagles. Football in Philly is life, so you can bet any fan who gets kicked out will be angry enough to… punch a horse? There’s an interesting twist on an old idiom.
That individual is not to be outdone by the collective Birds fans, whom the city trusts so much they actually greased the city street light poles to keep fans from climbing after the 2018 NFC Championship and Super Bowl victories.
Plot twist, neither worked.
It doesn’t matter the team or sport, win or lose, the city’s devoted fans deliver legendary stories of support time and again. Would you expect anything less from a city that erected a statue to its beloved fictional boxer?
Chelsea FC, The Blues
Chelsea FC (commonly referred to as The Blues) of the England’s top level football league, the Premier League, is one of the most well-known clubs in association football for a number of reasons. Of course, the more obvious reason is that Chelsea has enjoyed a great deal of success since the late ‘90s.
The Blues are one of the top earning clubs in the world and holds an estimated net worth of over $2 billion! That staggering number offers a small glimpse into how rabid Chelsea’s backing is, but Blues fans go much farther than that to show support.
Although it is nowhere near as out of control as the 1970-80s, the club’s supporters developed a notorious reputation thanks to their firm, the Chelsea Headhunters, that grew to be one of the scariest group of hooligans in all of Europe.
Things got so crazy that a chairman actually proposed an electric fence be put up around the pitch. Yeah, that’s hardcore.
It isn’t all about the battle off the pitch. Chelsea fans love to show their support by being one of the leading buyers in replica kits (soccer uniforms). Supporters come from all around the globe, which is evidenced by the team’s 12+ million followers on Twitter!