You watch the athlete on TV as a kid, idolizing the person, declaring him your favorite sports player. You would love for the chance to meet him. Then, you get that opportunity. You wait in line for an autograph, excited that you, small-town western Wisconsin resident, will get to know a sports celebrity, get to say “Hi,” get to chat for a bit, maybe become best buds.
You get to the front of the line. You fumble your words, say something a bit odd, and he signs with perhaps a hint of a smile, perhaps not, and you’re done. You have this odd feeling of “That didn’t go right,” and you feel bummed-out. This was your one shot to meet that guy you watched play for your favorite team for years. You blew it.
I brought my Twins cap – with a Tim Laudner 1987 signature – to a 2001 ex-player autograph game day and discovered that day’s signer was ... Tim Laudner, then handed him the cap to sign.
Has this scenario ever happened to you? If you have ever had the chance to meet a sports (or any) celebrity, you have likely had some variation on the situation I described.
We as sports fans are awed by the achievements and fame of the people we see in the media. They tend to take added stature because of their high-profile visibility, and even more so when we decide we like that particular person because they play for our team, or since we like their ability, character, and/or style.
When you find yourself in a situation where you can meet the athlete, you expect that they will be outgoing and friendly. We like that person from what we see in the media and don’t know them as a person, so we have no reason to think they would be anything other than an open, engaging personality. However, we easily forget that celebrities are people, too. All sorts of people: the outgoing ones, the introverts, the surly types, the easily distracted, and others. My personality may not mesh with theirs when we meet. When the match does not go well, you feel like you made a poor impression.