Why does society adore athletes so much

Soccer World Cup 2006

Gunter A. Pilz

To person

Prof. Dr. Gunter A. Pilz, born in 1944, is a sociologist and fan researcher, he works at the Institute for Sports Science at the University of Hanover.

The club as a (survival) content

Cowl fans, named after their vests embroidered with football and club emblems, are passionate and loyal fans. For them, football is an expression of a better world in which they can forget their own worries and material needs for the duration of a game. If your club wins, you too can feel like a winner.

Cowl fans go to the stadium to see their team win, they stand behind their team passionately and unconditionally and fight for the honor of their team. The opposing team as well as their supporters automatically become opponents, and often enemies too, who have to be defeated under all circumstances. In order to defend the honor of one's own team, arguments are also sought with representatives of the opposing club, the referee and, above all, opposing fans. By participating in the success of your own team, you can make your own unfortunate life situation more bearable. When the team wins, you can straighten up, emergencies become more bearable, your own experiences of failure can be compensated, which also applies the other way round.


The football-centric fans identify totally with "their" team, with "their" club, which they openly display through their clothing (frocks, flags, scarves, hats etc. with the club emblems and in the club colors). Football-centric fans create the typical atmosphere in the stadiums with their chants and chants, they are also the ones who loudly support their team until the final whistle, even if they are hopelessly behind. The club, the team becomes the central purpose of life for these young people, as a fan of 1. FC Kaiserslautern writes very vividly:
"There are fans who want nothing but to save a traditional club from relegation. It was all a few years ago for me. In the meantime, FCK has become like a family to me. I need it, it is my purpose in life. At we're all friends with us in the curve. Everyone knows each other, knows each other's problems ... Especially when you have problems yourself, you can switch off in football. You don't want to experience defeat because there are enough of them in everyday life The club's victory becomes a personal victory. " (Becker / Pilz 1988, p. 9)
Defeats and even more the malice of the opposing fans after a defeat can easily lead to violent disputes by trying to restore your own honor and that of the club with your fists! The club becomes a substitute for religion: "Hannover 96 is a religion", "God with us, we against all", is what Hanoverian fans can read on the patches and the player Carsten Linke even becomes the god of football, who is accordingly worshiped and idolized becomes. It is surprising that coffins and urns in the corresponding club colors are already available to buy, so that you can be buried appropriately and still express your commitment to the club even after death. The true fan not only sleeps in bed linen, he also falls asleep in coffins with the club colors!

With regard to violence and possible excesses of violence during the World Cup, the main problem here is disinhibition due to excessive alcohol consumption and provocations by opposing fans or simple frustration after defeat. The public viewing areas in particular could become a problem here due to the lack of fan separation.