He was resting in his bed and smiling when I entered his room. When he saw that I brought a hammer with me he started laughing, surprised. “I have come to finish what you have started” I said. The reason why he was resting at home with a huge bandage wrapped around his head was that he almost cracked open his skull the day before by hitting it against something much harder. Now he owned a dozen stitches.

I decided to visit him with a hammer after I learned that this wound was voluntarily self-inflicted. I am sure he did not plan to permanently reshape his head; nevertheless he could not stop himself from banging his head against a concrete wall. In fact he was angry, disappointed, sad and temporarily insane. His favorite team had lost the day before to their archrivals. He was devastated. The final whistle took away all the hope, and in that blindness he knocked himself out.

My friend had a good education, loving parents, a lot of friends and a good job. To the best of my knowledge he did not have a psychological disorder or violent inclinations. But he was a fanatic fan. Without any apparent reason, he was part of a team, a group of individuals who supported adamantly a member of a sports community. His metabolism had decided to correlate its functions with the performance of a bunch of athletes wearing certain colors competing with other athletes wearing other colors.

There are news reports everyday about fanatic activities based on religion or nationalism. Wars are fought for those causes. But sports? Given that I do not support his team, I genuinely believe that he would hit me with his head if we were watching the game together. Maybe regardless of its basis, this kind of reaction and extreme behavior is a symptom of a generic socio/psychological need. Here is the excerpt of a report on the issue written by two Turkish researchers for Athens 2004 Pre-Olympics Conference.

For some reason, my friend needed his team to win that day and he needed that like there is no tomorrow. Almost, there was no tomorrow.