Jared Lankford: A day to celebrate our biggest fans

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
On Sunday, our nation will celebrate Mother’s Day. Dixie Lankford, at center, mother of Jared Lankford, The Monett Times sports editor, has been a life-long sports fan. Missouri Southern State University caught here celebrating a touchdown during the 2015 Lions football season. Photo courtesy of Southern Athletics

The word fan is the shortened form of the word fanatic, and its use in the English language dates back to the 17th century.

Over the course of history, the term has come to be used to describe those individuals who support a sports team, individual or event.

Some of the actions of fans are legendary, not well conceived and sometimes illegal.


In 2011, Harvey Updike Jr., a devout Alabama fan, was arrested and charged with poisoning the Toomer’s Corner oak trees on the campus of Auburn University.

Another fan walked into a Denver tattoo parlor with nothing but a drawing and a dream. Less than two hours later, he walked out with Tim Tebow rendered as a centaur permanently inked on his thigh.

What is it that drives people to such extremes?

Why do we support teams that only rarely win championships or reach the top pinnacle of success?

Well, in short, the answer is love.

Something happened at some point that caused us to fall in love with that team, player or event.

We may not call it love, and for some fans, it could be better classified as a toxic relationship (I’m looking at you Cleveland Browns fans). But we have an unbreakable bond with that team and we will also hold them dear.

I have to admit that growing up, I had a dedicated fan, and many of you did too — our mothers.

On Sunday, America will honor our matriarchs with its annual Mother’s Day, a tradition since 1914.

Our mothers have always been our biggest fans, always rooting for us to succeed whether in sports or in life.

So much of what our mothers did for us went unnoticed.

Deion Sanders once said, “If you look good, you play good.”

Well, Deion never saw me play much. My mother always made sure my uniform was nice and clean, but the box score had a few E’s next to my position.

Our moms stayed up late cleaning uniforms and got up early to make sure were fed. They served as a personal taxi service to and from games and practices.

In the stands they cheered, made signs, umpired, endured all sorts of weather and were our biggest supporters — although when I played, we usually were winning big.

The job paid nothing. Yet, they were our biggest fans and probably did some crazy things to help us along the way.

The reason why is still simple — love.

Looking back, the hope is that we appreciated what they did for us and that we have more appreciation for them today.

On Sunday, spend some time with your mother, whether in person or in thought. Tell her that you love her. Tell her how much you appreciate what she has done for you. Tell her that you are her biggest fan.

Jared Lankford is the sports editor of the Cassville Democrat. He may be reached at sports@cassville-democrat.com or by calling 417-846-2610.

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