KAPALKO: A look at Jumbotron taxonomy

Jamie Kapalko

At major sporting arenas and stadiums all across the country, fans bow at the feet of one king. This king wields incredible power, enchanting fans with its mysterious spell, driving them to act like animals.

This king is the Jumbotron.

Using my scientific observations, I have formed 10 groups of Jumbotron “stars.”

Type One: Jumbotron Addict

The Jumbotron Addict is the most dangerous of all fans. His or her main goal is to be seen on screen as many times as possible. Sprinting through the crowd wearing a wig and full-body paint in order to secure a courtside seat is a dead giveaway. This fan acts crazy at all times in hopes of garnering attention from the cameraman – dancing, screaming and jumping up and down are common. He or she is a threat because of unchecked aggression. Not afraid to tackle others in order to appear on TV, the Jumbotron Addict is capable of causing serious injury (i.e., an elbow to the gut) if neighbors do not take proper precautions. Postgame, a typical phone conversation sounds like, “Mom, did you see me on TV after the third quarter? … What do you mean you got up to go to the bathroom? That was my moment! Did you TiVo it?”

Type Two: Hey, That’s Me!

The Jumbotron Addict is closely related to Types Two and Three. Type Two is Hey, That’s Me!, a fan who gets a rush from being shown but does not display the aggressive tendencies of the Addict. The most common characteristic of this fan is the tendency to thrust “V” fingers at the camera at all times. I can’t help but wonder if non-fans watching ESPN think this is a number two instead of a “V.”

Type Three: No Rhythm

Type Threes, No Rhythms, usually come in pairs. No Rhythm wants to be shown on the Jumbotron, but instead of displaying team spirit by cheering, he or she dances awkwardly to attract attention.

Type Four: Jumbotron Addict’s Victim

This fan’s unlucky seating position often leads to bruises, falls and the occasional broken bone. Elusive on camera, the Victim is difficult to spot because he or she is usually faceplanted on the ground. This fan is not necessarily unenthusiastic; in fact, seated elsewhere he or she may display habits typical of another type. However, slow reaction time or the inability to hold his or her ground under the weight of five blue-chested maniacs lead to trouble for the Victim.

Type Five: Crab Fries or Nachos?

This fan’s vacant stare is easily recognizable. While others cheer, he or she appears to ponder the great mysteries of the universe but is really trying to decide whether crab fries or nachos would make a better half-time snack. Crab Fries may offer a half-hearted clap or “Go ‘Nova” after attention is finally called to the Jumbotron.

Type Six: Band Member

The Band Member is one of the most commonly visible fans on the Jumbotron, but not all are alike. They fit into two main sub-groups: All About the Music and The Game Matters, Too. The first group steadfastly focuses its attention on the song it is playing. In contrast, the Game Matters, Too mug for the camera while continuing to play.

Type Seven: Person Who Thinks the

Screen is a Mirror

This fan, “The Narcissist” for short, does not look away from the Jumbotron. The Narcissist may smile and wave, but will gaze transfixed at his or her image as long as possible. These fans may not realize that they should be looking at the camera, but it is more likely that they simply enjoy checking themselves out. Yes, Narcissist, that is you. Yes, that is really what your hair looks like. Yes, I agree, those highlights do not complement your skin tone.

Type Eight: Maybe If I Close My Eyes,

No One Will See Me

This fan is camera-shy. He or she does not want to be shown on the Jumbotron and, when it happens, tries really hard to pretend it’s not happening. Behavior usually involves giggling and hiding behind a neighbor. I hate to break it to you, Miss Invisible, but we can still see you. Next time, try hitting the deck.

Type Nine: Longest 10 Seconds

of My Life

This fan is indifferent about appearing on screen. He or she simply waves at the camera and looks away. A few moments later, Longest 10 Seconds realizes that the cameraman is still focused on his or her face. Hey, this is awkward, the fan thinks. I already waved. What now? I’ll wave again. Looks away again. Camera not budging. Blushing begins as panic sets in. Offers a smile. Longest 10 Seconds is finally released from the torture by the start of the game.

Type Ten: The Cute Kid

The cute kid is the most powerful attractor of Jumbotron attention. The Addict considers the Cute Kid a mortal enemy, believing the Kid to be an unworthy fan due to the fact that he or she is not a Villanova student and does not yet bleed blue and white. Unfortunately for the Addict, chubby cheeks and adorable smiles mesmerize the cameraman, and the Cute Kid cannot be beaten.

What makes the Jumbotron such a powerful force? We feel like we’re involved in the game. And when our faces appear above the whole arena, it’s confirmed. And that is most definitely a cause for jumping and dancing. Although if you suspect the person sitting next to you is a Jumbotron Addict, you might want to wear a helmet.


Jamie Kapalko is a sophomore English major from Belmar, N.J. She can be reached at [email protected]