Ask not what the Sharks can do for you…

Written by Sharon van Wyk (Shaz)

Posted in :Admin, Original Content, Sharks, Stormers, Super Rugby on 1 May 2011 at 11:38
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Sup·port·er (s-pôrtr, -pr-) (noun.) 1. One that supports, as a structural member of a building. 2. One who promotes or advocates; an adherent or ally. 3. Heraldry An animal or figure that supports a shield in a coat of arms… Hi. My name is Sharon. I am a Sharks supporter. Which team do you support? I mean REALLY support?

It may sound like a simple question, but before your knee jerks and you respond, stop and think about the word and what it actually means. For ease of reference I have included a definition above. Other words which mean the same or something similar are:
aide, abettor, abider, apostle, bearer, booster, defender, devotee, enthusiast, exponent, follower, helper, patron, pillar, proponent, seconder, sustainer, upholder…

I am all of these things, and more. I know, and accept my role in the support structure of the team I hold dearer than any other. As the words convey, I am an integral part in something much larger than myself. Remove me from the bigger picture and a weakness will be created which, if left untended, will undermind the overall integrity of that which I support. Remove enough support and the structure itself will inevitably fail. So, while at times I may feel insignificant, I take comfort in the knowledge that I am a small but vital cog in a huge machine.

In my case the machine provides the Sharks’ powerbase. The team’s source of energy. The reason they take to the field week on week in search of glory and the spoils of war. For us… for the supporters. For our love and adolation. Their success gives us meaning and reaffirms the vital role we play. It makes us stronger. And more devoted… And better able to lift them higher and higher. Together, the Sharks and their fans are a self-fulfilling prophecy. At least they are in an ideal world. But the world we live in is far from ideal…

Before I continue, look again at the definition above and at the words which describe “supporter”. Think long and hard about them. Does it strike you that so many of them have reference to structures? A supporter literally “holds up” something. Something which without that support would fall. Something which gets weaker with every bit of support it loses. Are you getting the point? Good. Because in this far from ideal world we live in, the team we support occasionally appears ill-deserving of our support by losing. And because it loses, we withdraw our support. And whether temporary, as a result of a temper tantrum or massive toy-throwing session, withdrawal of our support further weakens an already flawed structure. And before we know it we have the whole thing in rubble around our knees, and really only ourselves to blame.

Why? Because the words at the start of this story only describe the action of support. A kind of cause and effect scenario. What they don’t do is attest to the essence of support, to the deep-seated commitment and emotional connection that support engenders in us. And the fact that the way we behave as supporters has a direct influence on the way our team performs. And it is in this regard that to a large extent Sharks fans can become their own worst enemies… By pre-empting their team’s demise.

What the Stormers did to the Sharks on the field at Newlands yesterday is nothing compared to what some Sharks fans are doing to their team today. Twenty-two bruised and battered bodies and minds are winging their way home to Durban today, dreading the fall-out from those who should be tending to their wounds, not rubbing salt into them. Don’t tell yourselves that they don’t care. Of course they do. Rather ask yourselves if YOU really care. Enough to stomach the bile of defeat and re-pledge your efforts to carrying your team to greater things? To holding the Sharks Tower up ever higher and prouder rather than going Osama on your team and reducing it to a pile of smoking rubble?

Support is about taking the losses on the chin. Support is about getting tougher when the going gets tough. Support is about putting your team first and ignoring the slings and arrows that outrageous fortune regularly rains down upon them. Support is about sticking together come what may. Not walking away when the plot takes a turn you don’t agree with and life “happens”. Today I feel pretty crappy about our performance yesterday. But not half as crappy as my team must be feeling. So I must take one for my team, take a deep breath and bear the heavy weight with a happy face and a winning smile. And if all of my fellow supporters do the same, the load I bear becomes lighter. And my team is lifted higher. Above those darned slings and arrows. United we stand. Divided, we are all doomed together.

It was not lost on me that the sell-out crowd at Newlands yesterday helped to lift their team to an extraordinary and well-deserved victory. I wonder if the hallowed ground of King’s Park will be party to a capacity crowd this coming Saturday when the Sharks take on the Brumbies. And I ask myself if not, then why not? Do we only fill stadiums on Currie Cup final days? Are we fair-weather fans? Or REAL supporters? Be there. Ask not what your team can do for you, but what you SHOULD be doing for your team. 😎


  • Thank you Sharon. You are an inspiration and an asset in anyhting you turn your hand to.I am delighted you write and comment on this forum and support the sharks. Because there for the grace of ?? you could be a free state supporter and what a loss to us!! I have supported the Natal squad come sharks for nigh on 40 years now. It’s a hard job and thats no lie!!!

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.05.11 12:20:00 by Caratacus Reply
  • @Caratacus (Comment 1) : Thank you. You humble me. Have a wonderful Sunday. 😉

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.05.11 12:22:34 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • Sharron ,you missed the point .Why should peeved supporters deserve a slap on the wrist for being disgruntled when the team we support looses?
    Rugby players are entertainers, would you think any worse of yourself for slamming a movie with your favourite actor in it . I don’t think the movie Invictus was a good movie ,it had all the ingredients to be a classic yet for me missed the mark ,and yet I find myself defending it because of the context of the movie.
    The Sharks were poor last night , and ;“What the Stormers did to the Sharks on the field at Newlands yesterday is nothing compared to what some Sharks fans are doing to their team today.” I disagree completely .
    Sharks have actually been poor since they lost to the chiefs and over the weeks have failed to rectify re occurring problems or poor form of players.
    Bob Skinstad would say (watch him say it this Thursday boots and all –mark my words) the definition of insanity is repeating something the same way and expecting the same results .
    Now here we stand ,once again with the tag under-achievers; Insanity.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.05.11 12:37:35 by Talent Reply
  • Lovely work shaz

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.05.11 12:45:16 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Talent (Comment 3) : Talent, I respect your opinion, even though I don’t agree with it.
    For example, I don’t think that professional sportsmen can be termed “entertainers” and bracketed with movie stars. But even if they could, I stick by what I have said. I am a fan of Russell Crowe. Have been since he appeared in Neighbours more moons ago than I care to mention. Russell followed his Oscar winning performance in “Gladiator” with a pup called “Proof of Life”. I hated the movie and hated his performance in it. I was not entertained (to quote his line as Maximus berating the crowd at a provincial circus). But it didn’t stop me being a fan or rooting for his next effort – the outstanding “A Beautiful Mind”.
    What we need to define is whether we, as Sharks fans, are here to serve our team, whether our team is here to serve us, or whether we are part of the same, awesome entity. I know which one I think it is. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.05.11 12:58:00 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 4) : Thanks boss!

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.05.11 12:58:52 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • Sharon, you sound like an ANC party leader with your “blind support” write up 😛

    if blind faith is what you require seek a religious denomination because in sport criticism – constructive – is par for the cause.

    people don’t buy sharks paraphenelia(sp), season tickets, fly to cape town only for them to be told to shut up 🙂

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.05.11 13:05:05 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 7) : Perhaps I should go into politics, then? 😛

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.05.11 13:09:09 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • Hey. I just noticed I got my third star! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.05.11 13:11:10 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • The loss yesterday hurt. The team didn’t play well. I am miffed that they lost but even more so because they were never in it. I still support the Sharks and always will but I would rather have the heartbreak of a narrow loss than to watch them play badly.

    Tomorrow is the start of another week and the next game to look forward to.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.05.11 13:29:47 by lostfish Reply
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  • this is the only blog i know that when the team loses bloggers get bombarded with why they should support the team 🙂

    you’d think after sooooo many years of sharks under-performance the fact that people are still here taking interest in the team is evidence enough that they indeed ARE supporters…

    woeful performance deserves derision and no amount of loquacious prose should deter supporters…

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.05.11 13:43:46 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 11) : Ahh, Monsieur Tron… You make me laugh. Thanks for brightening my Sunday! 😆

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.05.11 13:50:18 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • @Megatron (Comment 11) : agreed
    By the way jean deysel looked potent when he came on .
    There was a time and place when he was without doubt the best blindside flank in south africa …
    Then alberts came along and had a string of good games .I remember when we won game just becuase of Deysel

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.05.11 14:11:29 by Talent Reply
  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 12) : pleasure Shazzie 😛 i also enjoy your romantic prose, it is a source of great mirth.

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.05.11 14:18:33 by Megatron Reply

  • @Talent (Comment 13) : playing deysel with alberts is unimaginative, i know some here think deysel can fetch but he is too top heavy to be an effective deck player & with kanko acting as a ruck inspector, Flo had a free lunch last night

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.05.11 14:22:56 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 15) : ruck inspector. 😆 😆

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.05.11 14:24:46 by McLovin Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 14) : As long as I’m putting a smile on your face and injecting a little romance into your life, I’m a happy bunny! It’s all part of the service! 😆

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.05.11 14:28:01 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • That’s me for today, chaps and chapesses. Too cold to sit here and pontificate on the merits of being positive all day! Enjoy the cookies on the Dark Side and save some for me please! 😆

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.05.11 14:35:05 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • “Losing doesn’t make me want to quit.It makes me want to fight that much harder.”-american football coach.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.05.11 14:41:55 by bergshark Reply

  • @Caratacus (Comment 1) : I 2nd that.

    We are DAMN fortunate that Sharon has brains and chose the right team. 😉

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.05.11 15:21:49 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 20) : ja based on nothing else but looks as she has confessed before…have a look at her comments about lambie on the other thread, straight up cougar stuff 😉

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.05.11 15:29:33 by Megatron Reply

  • Okay this is my “I’m in mourning” look. 😉

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.05.11 15:32:07 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @Megatron (Comment 21) : You’re just jealous that she hasn’t seen you on a Rugby field yet. 😉

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.05.11 15:33:55 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 23) : i’m spoken for 😉

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.05.11 15:36:53 by Megatron Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 15) : true ,he is to top heavy -what word starting with a c are you talking 😉
    Becuase in youre minds eye you have a perception about a player and is ability dont draw conclusions from that -deysel use to destroy the breakdown,pull two or three men from the floor .
    gosh to top heavy …

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.05.11 15:44:36 by Talent Reply
  • Deysel and alberts is a great combo..
    Sharks might have been better served in getting wilhelm steenkamp rather than ross skeate,or investing more gametime(and showing more confidence) in anton bresler.

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.05.11 15:56:21 by bergshark Reply

  • Also quite a shame that mike rhodes left the tank.

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.05.11 15:56:54 by bergshark Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 7) :

    @Megatron (Comment 11) :
    The reason I can’t quite discount your contributions here is because ever so often a bit of gold shines amongst the pyrite.

    I completely agree with you – but you must acknowledge the irony in you talking about “constructive criticism” when most of your comments here are meant to bait the newbies and those easily convinced in the Shark’s *destiny* as champions.

    If I can cast aside my live and let live philosophy for a bit, I must say that I don’t see any less merit in the manic-depressive heroes-to-villains support of the likes of some here as opposed to the view that everything is always shiny and happy in the land of the Sharks.

    Supporting a team is an issue of identity – whatever the reason you choose to identify with that team.

    I identify with and support the Sharks because of my loyalty to them, and my memories growing up supporting the legends of the early-90’s. I supported them through the abomination that was the Hugh Reeece-Edwards and Kevin Putt era because of this.

    Because of this conscious loyalty, I don’t have to convince myself that they are better than they are, that they are infallible or that they do not make stupid mistakes. My love of rugby means that I can support good rugby irrespective of who is playing it.

    In my ungenerous moments, I sometimes wonder if the sunshine-happy fans have this need for blind cheerfulness and support because their loyalty is conditional on their team being a winning one – the stark choice being to either shift support to a team that is actually winning, or to delude themselves into believing that their team is doing better than they actually are.

    To counter that cynicism, I once more don my live-and-let-live mask.

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.05.11 17:33:40 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 28) : You hippie. 😉

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.05.11 17:38:57 by McLovin Reply

  • Yes. Support them. Always.

    NEVER accept mediocrity. NEVER accept the same mistake twice. If they kill the season because of an unwillingness to evolve and I just accept it with a nod and a smile, then I am not a supporter but one of the mindless, ambitionless masses that currently run this world.

  • Comment 30, posted at 01.05.11 18:34:35 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @McLovin (Comment 29) :
    You got the wrong man there.

    If I were stupid enough to voluntarily subject myself to any substance that significantly impaired my perception of reality, the weapon of choice would be opium – just so I could indulge in that shabby-chic ennui. 😆

  • Comment 31, posted at 01.05.11 19:11:59 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • I love supporting rugby and I love riding rollercoasters. Both have there ups and downs and even though I do my fair share of screaming on the way down it doesn’t mean I don’t love the ride.

    As long as we share our views in a respectful manner I don’t see any problem here.

  • Comment 32, posted at 01.05.11 23:03:36 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Big Fish (Comment 28) : well said! as for the perceived irony, it is but a figment of your imagination that i critique without being constructive 😉

  • Comment 33, posted at 02.05.11 00:25:32 by Megatron Reply

  • cus·tom·er noun \?k?s-t?-m?r\
    Definition of CUSTOMER

    : one that purchases a commodity or service

    I look for entertainment. My favorite team is paid to provide it. If they do not entertain me, I look elsewhere.

    No disrespect for all you supporters. I just cannot be emotionally invested in sport like that.

  • Comment 34, posted at 02.05.11 02:29:07 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @fyndraai (Comment 34) : What you SAY makes 100% sense, but using “customer” as an analogy is not something I agree with. When last did you spend money on your team.

    Personally I bought 2 Jerseys in December and I don’t think that entitles me to demand any service.

  • Comment 35, posted at 02.05.11 07:10:51 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Good morning guys, monday and not working, works for me…

  • Comment 36, posted at 02.05.11 08:41:10 by franshark Reply
  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 9) : congrats, I’m working on getting that 3rd star. And thanks for the great post.

  • Comment 37, posted at 02.05.11 09:02:13 by franshark Reply
  • Nice piece Sharon well said ! 😎

  • Comment 38, posted at 02.05.11 10:21:26 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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    Hertford Highlander
  • @Big Fish (Comment 28) : well said, I’m a shark suporter tru thick and thin, win or loose. I know a sertain lions suporter that last year said if the lions don’t win a single game of super rugga he will stop suporting them. His now wearing the full blue outfit. The shame…

  • Comment 39, posted at 02.05.11 10:48:03 by franshark Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 35) :

    Ha. Ha. You got me there. I don’t buy the shirts. Vodacom will have to pay me to be a mobile billboard for them.

    As a customer one do not necessarily have to make demands. You are looking a service from the Sharks. To be entertained. They do not always have to win to entertain but they must play well and win enough to keep you happy.
    If they become like the Lions, even the most avid supporters will act like customers and drift away.

  • Comment 40, posted at 02.05.11 13:04:37 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Great read Sharon 😎

  • Comment 41, posted at 02.05.11 13:34:21 by Jarson (AddicteD) Reply
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  • Have to admit that I feel much better today than I did yesterday. I tantric fit as I always do after a Sharks loss. 😳 Everybody has their moments of weakness and deals with it differently. I scream I ‘hate’ you and other profanities for a day or two. And I wont have it any other way. 😳 😳 Today I feel better and once again I’ll be 100% behind the boys in black and white. Sharks forever.

  • Comment 42, posted at 02.05.11 13:40:37 by Jarson (AddicteD) Reply
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  • @Jarson (AddicteD) (Comment 42) : Damn!!! I was hoping you would trade a bunch of them out of your FL team. 😛

  • Comment 43, posted at 02.05.11 14:01:24 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 43) : I almost did :mrgreen:

  • Comment 44, posted at 02.05.11 15:17:16 by Jarson (AddicteD) Reply
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  • Afternoon, everyone. How’s things in happy, sunny Sharks land? 😆
    Boy do I take flack for being positive. How’s that for human nature? 😛 I seem to have created the perception that I am blindly optimistic – a bit of a “Sharks hugger”. Which is ironic given the epithets I throw at the television with gay abandon each weekend! Yes. Believe it or not, I get ANGRY when the Sharks play like complete imbeciles. I am all too aware of their shortcomings, but what can I do to fix them? I am not their coach. I am their supporter. So I do what I must do, which is support. Happy or not. And suffer my own slings and arrows as a result! (Fitting, really!) 😆
    Like Big Fish says… live and let live! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 45, posted at 02.05.11 15:43:23 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • @Megatron (Comment 21) : You are an absolute rotter, Meneer Tron. 🙄 I confess I chose to support Natal, before seeing them play, based on the number of pretty faces in their team. Having then seen them play, I decided I had made the right decision. How else was I to choose which team to support in South Africa, literally fresh off the plane, at my first live rugby match with no idea which was the better team? 😆
    Now then… as for the matter of young Master Lambie… 😎
    If I am a “cougar” for being able to identify incredible rugby talent, call it what it is, and appreciate the young man for possessing it, then may I be a “cougar” till hell freezes over. 😈
    SuperPat is good-looking and has a fine physique. What’s wrong with that? There are quite a lot of good-looking chaps with fine physical attributes in top-class rugby. So what? There’s a fair number of them in the movie business too… Gerard Butler, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Sam Worthington, Hugh Jackman… Most of them are younger than me. So if my appreciation of them makes me a “cougar”, then so be it. 🙂
    Hell, I think Angelina Jolie is beautiful, does that mean I bat for the other side? 😛
    Dude… I have no problem with labels. My ex husband was 10 years younger than me, and I have not dated an older man since Phil. If calling me a “cougar” helps everyone to feel better for categorising me, then so be it.
    But I think that for someone who so rightly berated me for bringing my personal life into “rugby banter” on another thread not 24 hours ago, you are now guilty of hoisting yourself with your own petard. :mrgreen: 😆

  • Comment 46, posted at 02.05.11 16:21:52 by SharonvanWyk Reply
  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 45) : You just keep doing what you’re doing – 99% of us are right with you!

    Have been out of reach of Sky, BBC, CNN etc for a while, but believe news of Osama going down only came out on Mon 02 May – are you psychic too?

  • Comment 47, posted at 06.05.11 21:00:22 by perran_dw Reply


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