If you’re a sports fan, you’re all too familiar with the roller coaster of emotions one can experience when watching your favorite team play. You’re likely also familiar with the high stakes that come with watching your team on prime time.
Well, if you watched the Chargers vs Cowboys game on Monday Night Football last week, you probably witnessed this unique, emotional roller coaster from the now-viral Chargers fan, Merrianne Do.
Merrianne is one of the million football fans who’s familiar with Jumbotron appearances and season tickets, especially as a 20 year-long season ticket holder for the Los Angeles Chargers. One thing she wasn’t familiar with, however, is the sudden fame that would bombard her.
Merrianne moved to California almost 20 years ago with her family of 4 boys. She’s always held a deep passion for the Chargers, especially former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers because his “wearing his heart on my sleeve” mentality deeply resonated with her own passionate nature. Her love for football, however, began during her time in her home state, Minnesota. She was a diehard Vikings fan then, thus explaining the viral photo of her in an Adam Thielen jersey and the excitement we’re all too familiar with.
Though most football fans admire Merrianne’s unwillingness to contain her excitement for the game, there are others who are more speculative of her. She’s been accused of being a “fan plant,” an actress, and when the resurfaced photo of her in a Vikings jersey, it was all too easy for the media to twist Merrianne’s story. What intrigues me the most, however, are the headlines: “Controversial Chargers superfan Merrianne Do…” (New York Post), “Viral Chargers fan assures the Pat McAfee crew that she is the real deal” (ESPN), “Viral Chargers fan breaks silence on Vikings jersey picture” (Sportskeeda).
They almost hint at Merrianne’s needing to justify not just her fandom, but herself as well. The speculation wasn't aimed towards her identity (a normal question to ask), but instead on whether or not she was a real Chargers fan. One could argue that the Chargers did indeed have AI fans at their matchup against the Dolphins, but we learned later that it was just a promotion for the then- upcoming sci-fi film: “The Creator.”
It’s a testimony to the challenges that sports fans, specifically women, face when cheering for their teams. We’re compelled to prove our fandom, whether it’s being told to name 5 players, being neglected in sports-centered conversations, or in Merrianne’s case, going on NFL Network and ESPN talk shows just to clarify that she’s “the real deal.”
"I wish I was getting paid, I wish I could make myself AI and make myself as beautiful as I want, but at the end of the day, this is me, guys," she said on the show. "This is me. Crazy mom of four, crazy Chargers fan, crazy freaking football fan, and it is what it is." - Merrianne Do on “The Pat McAfee Show”
The Chargers faced off against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium this past weekend, and one of the biggest stories surrounding it wasn’t the matchup between the two teams, but rather the matchup between Chargers darling Merrianne and the latest Chiefs fan, Taylor Swift. The media loves nothing more than pitting women against each other, especially in the world of sports. But in true Merrianne nature, she was too focused on her Chargers to get sucked into it.
"I could never say I could be the answer to Taylor Swift," Do said laughing, "But if you talk about passion for football, I think I have a little bit more." - Merianne Do for ABC7 News
Merrianne isn’t just an embodiment of a true sports fan, but also a testimony to letting go of the fear of loving what you love. We so often get discredited for our fandoms, even outside the realm of sports, so it’s important to stay true to ourselves and what we love most. We need to release the internalized need to question a woman’s love for something and accept it at face value. Maybe we all need to release our inner Merianne.
“I love the passion, I love all of it. I just feel like everything in our life, as long as we’re passionate about the things we love, who cares about everything else? This world is hard enough, like let’s enjoy the ride up and down, whatever.” - Merrianne Do on “The Pat McAfee Show”