Links roundup for 23 April 2012

Here’s a roundup of fandom then-and-now stories that might be of interest to fans:

  • The Houston Press hosted a story about the past, present, and future of music fan clubs, from The Beatles to Ke$ha. “People place pen-pal ads in the back of magazines. They join mailing lists. They discover the Internet and start fan pages. Someone opens up a chat room. Someone else builds a Web forum. The methods have evolved over time, but the reason remains the same: Fans want to connect with other fans.” Focusing on the tangible offerings of official fan clubs, the writer observes that “Chamillionaire recently launched the Chamillitary Rewards/Loyalty Program though his Web site. More than just a fan club or social network, it allows fans to earn points (Chamillitary coins) for the things they’d be doing anyway: Visiting his site, watching videos, etc. They can turn around and use those points for everything from phone calls with Koopa to limited gear. It takes being a fan from a passive experience to a active experience. And so the one-way street of fan club delivering information to fans becomes a two-way street where the fan and the artist interact.”
  • Student newspaper The Elm focused on the changes to sports fandom. “Sports nerds are everywhere. How did we get here?” Citing fantasy sports as “a new avenue of fandom”, the writer explains, “For those who don’t know what fantasy sports are, here is a definition from Elm Editor-in-Chief Natalie Butz: ‘It’s dungeons and dragons for jocks.'” Describing his own activities, the writer says, “I got to spend money on players, analyzing every bit of information, trying to outsmart my opponents in baseball knowledge. What could be better for a sports nerd? I was almost ashamed that I wasted so much time at my auction draft. I promised myself, ‘Never again!’ But, next year I’ll probably end up doing the same thing. So what if it’s a little pathetic? I love sports. I loved sports stats. I love looking at baseball from different angles. The world of fandom is changing, every day getting more in depth, idiosyncratic, and well, nerdy. My advice, to all the other sports nerds out there: soon we will be the norm, just embrace it.”
  • Unfortunately, fandom shifts often prompt ugly backlashes, as Magic: The Gathering tournament competitor Jackie Lee can attest. “To outsiders, the Hasbro-owned fantasy game is a diversion. To these tournament participants, however, it’s a cut-throat mental battle for a $3,500 prize.” Lee reached the semifinals, which was “livestreamed around the globe and commented on by a pair of sportscasters.” It was also commented on by many anonymous misogynists. “[H]undreds of viewers began to berate Lee for what they considered her largest offense: playing cards while female.” As she recounted, “From ‘get back to the kitchen’ to comments about how fat or bangable I am, to openly stating one’s intention to masturbate, it was pretty much as bad as you could imagine. They grew more and more desperate for me to lose, and when I finally lost my semifinal match, they exploded in delight.” The sole woman in the Top 100 ranked Magic players worldwide, Lee is highly visible, and she hopes for more company. “It’s been shown that in very heavily male-dominated professions, such as certain fields of science, when the number of women begins to approach 50 percent, the chilly climate evaporates,” she said. “I’m hoping that as more women enter the tournament scene, women who play will finally be regarded as the norm, and we can all stop fussing about it.”

If you play fantasy sports, Magic: The Gathering, or are part of a music fan group, why not write about it in Fanlore? Additions are welcome from all fans.

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