In 2014, I spent a lot of time around soccer fans. I regularly hung out at the sports bars frequented by Los Angeles’s official Real Madrid supporters club. My friends constantly shared with me, via email and social media, soccer-related websites, articles, and videos highlighting soccer fans and their love of the sport — and I clicked on them. I posted on soccer blogs, and rang up a bunch of credit card purchases in Brazil in July, during the World Cup. If my phone, the sites I visited, and the merchants I patronized had been collecting all the data associated with the places I went, the people I spoke to, and even the purchases I made, an analyst could easily have concluded that I was an ardent soccer fan (or, as people outside the U.S. would say, a football fan). But I’m not; at least, I wasn’t. At the time, I was studying sports fans as part of a research project with Havas Sports and Entertainment, to understand their passions and how they engage with brands — especially the brands that sponsor players, teams, and events in hopes of giving sports fans the experiences that they want. In doing so, I wound up becoming a case study in my own project.

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