A fan club is a group of people who share a common interest and form an organized club to network with other enthusiasts. Fan clubs can be for a noted celebrity, a pleasurable activity, a political idea, or almost anything at all. Admirers known as fans will join a club to learn more about the object(s) of their dedication. Sports fans, music fans, and hobbyists are some of the people who might join a fan club.
The origin of the term fan in reference to a dedicated zealot is unclear. The word may have emerged in the 1800s when boxing supporters were said to take a “fancy” to pugilistic sports. Amongst modern sports fans, however, the title is considered a shortened version of the word fanatic, as in “baseball fanatic,” an indication of the dedication of fan club members.
The Internet has expanded opportunities for fan clubs to flourish across the globe. A quick search brings up thousands of choices. There is an online fan club for every football team, rock group and major celebrity. Most fan club websites publish online newsletters called fanzines, and membership is usually open to anyone who shows interest.
Some of the best-known celebrity fan clubs today are for musicians or movie stars. There can be informal groups of followers, as well as official organizations that are personally endorsed by the celebrities themselves. Singer, Michael Jackson, has one of the largest official fan groups, with members in almost every country of the world. In India, dozens of Bollywood film stars are practically worshiped by fans, and the number of organized fan clubs in India is astronomical.
The Japanese also have a number of fan groups, and the members are sometimes called otaku. The term has a somewhat derogatory connotation in Japan, but is in popular use amongst English-speaking computer gamers and comic aficionados. Teens who are obsessed with anime comics and other popular culture are sometimes called fanboys or fangirls.
Not all fans are members of a fan club. Soccer devotees are some of the most dedicated and fanatic sports enthusiasts around, but not all are members of organized clubs. In the music world, there are obsessed fans who follow their favorite performer to every tour stop and attend every concert without fail. Some fanatical admirers can go too far by stalking a celebrity to the point of unease. However, most people are content to join a fan club simply for the joy of sharing a healthy obsession with like-minded people.