First, this was an excellent article, and the author shows an incredible grasp of both wrestling culture and the nascent discipline of fan studies. He is a gifted researcher, and presumably a kind grader.
That said, this mysterious Ford breaks suggests five non-exclusive modes in which wrestling audiences engage with the text: spectators, critics, performers, community members, and theorists. (Out of curiosity, what's with the mention of "fans as patients" on page 18? Did I read this wrong?) I think, between the various members of this class who happen to be fans, someone in the room knows about each of these behaviors firsthand at any given time, and listening to my classmates has demonstrated quite well the ease with which some fans can shift between them.
My question is, assuming these modes of engagement are learned--I'd be very impressed if anyone comments on this and suggests that people interact with wrestling in a certain way due to inborn tendencies, but it strikes me as unlikely--are they learned in a specific order, and is that order consistent? Presumably most fans begin as spectators. Beyond that, it seems difficult to predict what the next logical development would be. Becoming a critic tends to occur spontaneously in any fan culture in which the fans are sufficiently familiar with the texts to discern repeating patterns. Learning to function as a performer seems to imply a similar process, but applied to the audience; conversely, it could spring spontaneously from the more imaginative fans who are skillful in their suspension of disbelief. The theorist mode also seems to draw on familiarity with audience conventions, with a greater focus on introspection, an awareness that the audience includes oneself. Finally, community would encourage the growth of all of these modes, and may (in some cases) precede the status of spectator itself.
Since I lack the time, resources or inclination to do legitimate ethnographic research, do any of the fans in this class perceive a progression in their roles over time, or does it all happen at once?