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Raider Nation is a term applied to the very obsessive fans of the Oakland Raiders, a US football team belonging to the National Football League (NFL). Raider Nation does not apply to the occasional and well-behaved fan that might attend a game from time to time. Instead it is used for the purpose of describing the legions of fans who are known for dressing in black and silver, partying excessively before, during and after games, and for taking trips across the country to see their team play when they travel.
It seems to be almost always the case that when the Raiders travel, hosts of Raider Nation members can be found ready to party and cheer their team on. The Raiders have the highest selling numbers for products with team logos like shirts, hats and jackets, of any NFL team. This may, in part, be due to the fact that some Raiders logos are now used specifically to express gang affiliation. In fact, many public schools ban any clothing with Raiders logos.
Initially, however, the Raider Nation appears to have gotten its start when the Oakland Raiders moved the team to Los Angeles in 1982. Diehard fans made extra effort to get to home games in Los Angeles. The team moved back to Oakland in 1995, much to the delight of its many Raider Nation fans in the Bay Area.
Some sports experts and sociologists claim that Raider Nation was particularly associated with urban make-up of racial and economic populations. Oakland has an especially high number of African American citizens, and also a high number of impoverished people. Raider Nation may have in part resulted with an affinity for representatives of an oppressed and marginalized population.
In truth, however, most people who are poor cannot afford to attend football games, and certainly can’t afford to travel. Most Raider Nation fans have to have the affluence to get seats in the “black hole” section of the Coliseum, where the most feverish fans gather. As well, the poorer residents of Oakland generally can’t usually afford to travel to games in other parts of the country.
Some people strongly dislike Raider Nation fans because they tend to be quite rowdy, and may act rudely, or become significantly intoxicated at games. Such intoxication generally does not translate to great behavior at games. Some also point to the Raiders as playing a very aggressive style of football that seems unsporting.
A football fan in the Bay Area, who is not a Raider Nation member, is quite likely to be a fan of the San Francisco 49ers. If the Raiders represent the marginalized in an urban society, some believe that the 49ers tend to represent the best of the urban environment and are associated with “class.”
Both views, of course, don’t take into account that most Raiders and 49ers fans are just nice people who enjoy sporting events. However, there seems to be particular antipathy between many of the Raider Nation and diehard 49ers fans.