I was reading a baseball season preview on ESPN, in which the author was presenting the optimistic and the pessimistic views he had about each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams. In one team’s section, he was pointing out why the team did not earn his optimism, and while looking at the specifics he squeezed in this opinion of how sports fans appreciate and therefore support certain teams. He writes:
There are three main inputs from which fans draw a sense of satisfaction.
- One is nearly permanent: It’s the team’s sense of self-identity. Are you proud of them, or do they embarrass you?
- The second one is mostly stable within a season: Do the games matter? Are they worth turning on, is there a race, do I have a reason to care?
- The third one changes every day, sometimes many times a day: Are they winning this game or losing this game? Those daily outcomes are
ephemeral, but they also come at you constantly and start to pile up.
Since being a fan of a sports team is a voluntary activity just like being an Odd Fellow, I put his viewpoint into the context of supporting or being a fan of an IOOF lodge. Here is my rewrite:
There are three main inputs from which members draw a sense of satisfaction from
- One is nearly permanent: It’s the lodge’s sense of self-identity. Are the members proud of their fellow members, the lodge’s organization, the lodge’s facilities and Odd Fellows Order, or do they embarrass the member?
- The second one is mostly stable within a year to year timeframe: Does the work of the lodge matter? Is it worth supporting as patrons or volunteers, is there a sense of making a difference, does the member have a reason to care?
- The third one changes every week or every month, sometimes daily: Are the lodge’s events, and/or meetings positive and progressively getting better or are they costing more than is gained by the member? These types of frequent outcomes are ephemeral, but they also come at members constantly and start to pile up on their conscience; positively or negatively.
The Chicago Cubs went 108 years between winning World Series championships, and
during that time the teams barely had a hint of being good for decades. So, why were there thousands (possibly millions) of die-hard fans of those “loveable losers”?
It became the team’s identity. It became their fans’ identity. “Long suffering underdogs that never got to even lick the bowl after the champions had eaten up all the glory”.
Maybe you are a fan of a sports team that struggles to be a winner, but you remember the good old days of unforgettably gifted players bringing wins and championships.
Think about what keeps you as a fan.
Think of your lodge now. Being a member for 20 years will have many ups and downs; good seasons and not so good seasons. Are there members in your lodge who have been “life-long fans”? Get them to tell you why their fandom has survived. Could you be a life-long fan of your lodge too?
Of course, there is a difference between being a fan of a team and a fan of a lodge. In the latter, a member is part of the team/lodge too. They see the lodge from the inside. They can choose to fill some of the many roles to help the lodge succeed. Not just the elected or appointed roles, but also holding roles on committees and volunteer crews.
A fan of a lodge can promote the positive working of their lodge to the public just like they might celebrate the best parts of their favourite sports team. They can, figuratively,“wave the team’s flag”; wear the team’s colors; brag about the Order as their team and that even though the size of the membership in Odd Fellows are not a great as it use to be, Odd Fellows are still a great team to watch through its rebuilding.