What does it take to be a sports fan? Do you need to start early as a child? Do you need parents who push you towards sports and ingrain its importance in you? Do you need to play a sport yourself? Do you need to be influenced by a team or a player? Well, all of it and none of it.
It takes a lot, and at the same time, nothing to be a sports fan. You can come from any part of the world, from a privileged background or otherwise, learn sports early or well into your 30s. You can be a die-hard fan of a certain team or athlete or be a roving sports lover. All you need really is appreciation. An ability to experience thrill when a human pushes the limits. All you need is the capacity for a good time.
While I cover sports as a profession for TV, I'm what I call myself an un-quintessential sports fan. I barely have any allegiances, can't associate with a lot of things that matter to experts, didn't play much sports as a kid and don't care much for statistics, often the barometer for your fan-ship.
But I do love sports and can see the same love in others too. I like watching anything and everything. Morning or night. Indian or not. I just like the emotion of it all, the stories, the struggles athletes go through and the pinnacles they can touch. Maybe, like Ogden Nash, I'm just a "born spectator".
Here at the Cricket World Cup 2015, covering India's matches in Perth, I shared the same love with Omprakash and Premlata Mundra, a couple that has travelled to 70 different countries in a span of 20 or so years, to watch and appreciate sports. This is their sixth 50-over World Cup, tenth if you include the World T20s too. They have witnessed four FIFA World Cups and seven Olympics in total, amongst a host of other events around the world. Often as volunteers and at other times just as fans, they have experienced uncountable unmatchable highs and lows of the sporting world. They are as much Indian cricket team's fans as they are of the West Indies, who India play next at Perth.
While Omprakash did play sports as a young man, and once was even conditioned by the great Dhyan Chand in physical training, his wife "knew nothing about sports" before marriage but today can talk about Chris Gayle and Olympics, thanks to her "crazy" husband.
But what they recount are not the sporting celebrities they met at these events, which are many, but the people and the love they showered on them. The countless invitations for meals and stays at homes of locals, strangers offering tickets for free, making friends and often landing in trouble too.
I wish I could one day travel like them just to watch sports.
A journey that started with my favourite sport Tennis at its spiritual home Wimbledon, is nothing else if not the people you meet and the experiences you share. And the roving sports fan is a special breed.