Top 10 famous sports fans

RealClearSports staff
Yahoo! SportsMay 23, 2009

For many of us, the life of a celebrity is a completely foreign concept. Stars lead an extravagant existence full of spectacular splurges on hobbies like injecting Botox, flying private planes, taking weekend vacations to Aruba, and even tickling the ivories while dressed like Donald Duck (we're looking at you, Elton John).

But believe it or not, we all have something in common: a love of sports. No matter how much fame one attains, pure sports fandom seemingly never diminishes, whether it's Stephen King's fascination with the Red Sox, Regis Philbin's love of Notre Dame, or perhaps most prominently, Jack Nicholson's obsession with the Lakers. Indeed, the Top 10 famous fans prove you can wear your favorite team's jersey and be chased by the paparazzi, all at the same time.

There is something oddly appropriate in the fact that Stephen King is a fan of the Boston Red Sox, a team with a history of curses and heartbreaking, gut-wrenching losses. It's as though the horror novelist himself penned their entire history.

King has long been a fan of the Sox, and can often be spotted in the stands, at both home and away games. During the playoffs, he's a near fixture in his second-row field-box seat. His fandom even makes its way into his writing, notably in his 1999 release, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. While lost in the woods, the novel's heroine clings to thoughts of her hero, Red Sox closer Tom Gordon.

During the wild and tumultuous 2004 Sox season, King was often seen in the stands, working on a book (of course), along with friend Stewart O'Nan. Faithful, which the pair co-authored, tells the story of the historic 2004 season, through the eyes of one of the biggest Sox diehards there is.

You don't need a book, or even a box score, to know how Notre Dame is playing in the fall – just tune to “Live with Regis and Kelly” Monday morning and you will learn exactly how the Irish fared, based solely on Regis Philbin's mood as he greets his audience.

An Irish alum (Class of '53), Philbin makes no secret of his fandom and desire to wake the echoes. When it came time for Joe Garner's book, Echoes of Notre Dame Football: Great and Memorable Moments of the Fighting Irish, to be recorded onto accompanying CDs, it was Philbin that was tapped as the voice for the project.

Philbin, now 77, still makes annual trips to South Bend, and often speaks at pre-game pep rallies. His passion for his alma mater goes so deep that, in an interview with Esquire in 2004, Philbin said, “I love Notre Dame. I want my ashes scattered there.”

The ultimate celebrity fan, of course, resides in the ultimate town for celebrities: Los Angeles. But despite the host of films under his belt, this actor is seemingly more comfortable courtside than he is on the big screen, and has become an NBA fan fixture. The beginning of each Lakers game is the same: Randy Newman's “I Love LA” plays in the background. The cameras get their close-up shots on the celebrities. First there's Leonardo DiCaprio, then Kyra Sedgwick (only there because she's promoting her TNT show), followed by director Penny Marshall. But inevitably, no matter how many stars are in attendance at a Lakers game, a tour of the celebs present always ends with the same person: Jack Nicholson.

Los Angeles fans have been criticized for their lack of enthusiasm. The fans at Dodger Stadium don't show up until the third inning, and celebrities who go to Lakers games are staring at their Blackberries instead of the ballers. But Nicholson is a true fan. He's been a season ticket holder since 1970, and recently, he was seen imploring the crowd to get on their feet and cheer. How far has Nicholson taken his fandom? He has actually worked it into his contract that any filming will be scheduled around the Lakers' home games.

If only our bosses would let us out of the office to catch a few day games. Clearly, we need better agents.

The top five:

1. Jack Nicholson: Slideshow
2. Spike Lee: Slideshow
3. Billy Crystal: Slideshow
4. Elton John: Slideshow
5. Regis Philbin: Slideshow
See more famous fans

In Pictures: Top 10 most die-hard celebrity sports fans