What makes a fan a real fan? Is it buying tickets or T-shirts? What about tattoos?
When it comes to college football, I think you can factor in dating habits into how obsessed a fan is about his or her team. I know people who won't even consider dating someone who went to a different school.
You may say it's crazy, I say there's something to it. Dating is a contact sport. A spirited debate rose up in the RedEye newsroom this week about how to date when you're a die-hard supporter of your university.
Some of this is simple. If you're dating someone who went to a rival school, you buy one of those tacky "house divided" license plates and don't have sex the week they play or something.
But what about that gray area? What are the rules of rooting when it comes to dating? Allow me to assist.
>> If you're dating someone who went to a school that doesn't have a significant football team (for the purposes of this column, "significant" means they're a playable team in "NCAA Football 14"): That person should root for your team.
>> If you and your s/o went to big schools in the same conference: Root separately but give a halfhearted effort when they aren't playing your school.
>> If you both went to football powerhouses but you never play each other: Show some love. If you're dating, wear a shirt in their color if you're watching a game with them. If you're married or quickly heading in that direction, take the plunge and buy some official apparel.
>> What if your school is amazing at one sport and terrible at the rest? (Looking at you, Indiana grads) Root for your school, but be aware that you might need to do a little moonlighting during the offseason.
>> Don't blindly assume that just because your sweetheart went to a football powerhouse that they give a crap about the team. If they don't care about football and you do, then they should root for your team.
>> If you don't care what people think and choose to root all the way for the team your BF/GF supports, don't become one of those smug SOBs. You know, the kind who says "we" and acts like you've been supporting since day one. Everyone hates bandwagon fans, but bandwagon-in-law fans are even worse. Don't do it.
Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman. @ernestwilkinsNeed to give your dating life a boost? Sign up for RedEye Dating.