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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Stop Being a Fan


October 27, 2021 | View PDF

On occasion I’ve watched parts of the Tour de France.

It might have been moments of “what if,” but it was just as much curiosity. What does it take to not just race but speed through villages, varying terrain, mountain passes and a pack of cyclists who want the yellow jersey as much as you do.

Equally as striking is the roads crowded by spectators. The European two-lane roads frequently looked reduced to a single lane and change because of the number of spectators, hard-core fans cheering on the race and their favorite riders. I’ve seen moments in other races where fans are trying to hand riders water bottles. Their good intentions further convoluting the roadway.

They are thinking from the sidelines, not from the saddle.

Several years ago, I was introduced to a book titled “Not a Fan.”

When I first heard about the book, and in the context it was presented, I was taken by surprise. Why wouldn’t you want to be a fan? Why not be the one on the sidelines yelling support for your team, rider, or competitor? The answer is so simple it is not always visible.

After a time, you need to get off the bench and get in the game.

Fans often come in two designs: die-hard and sunshine. In Nebraska, Big Red stands tall, taller in a winning season. That is what fans do. Some will dance and cheer their team’s success, and walk away when their team can’t find the end zone with a map. The die-hard fans will cheer them on regardless the score.

There is one thing in common with fans universally. They don’t get the bruises, overworked muscles and obligation to return to the field when 30 minutes feels like three days.

A fan can turn off the television, ride on his or her terms or do anything else that catches his or her attention. The player is obligated to be on the field, and “leave it all on the field.” It is expected if you’re on the team you will be committed to finish the game with the goal of a win; second string ready to step in should there be an injury.

I hear people frequently ask how has society come to where it is. How is it a government designed to serve the people are now in positions of moral authority and setting political mandates?

Some people leave the question open. Others continue implying “If not you (or me), then who?” Abraham Lincoln described democracy as “Government of the People, by the People and for the People.” The question that should be asked is how is it by the people if the people are content sitting in the bleachers?

The American form of democracy is defined as a call to action. It urges citizens to be involved in the process from the school board to the U.S. Senate. When we look at the conditions around us and shake our heads, we need to ask what are we doing to change things. Are we content with our $10 coney dog and $6 carbonated drink, or do we take part in the process?

If you are ok with the state of things socially and politically, then so be it. If you are not, then be the change. Find a place where you can be an influence, where you can make your voice heard.


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