Saturday, November 23, 2013

On Bandwagon Fans

Band•wag•on: noun,    
          -a particular activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular.

The bandwagon fan can be identified by a number of characteristics. They begin to express a seemingly deep interest in a team once playoff season rolls around or after a team’s playoff success (possibly a championship). They usually have very limited knowledge of the team, with the ability to name only the most popular and publicized players.

The term “bandwagon fan” is an insult often directed at someone with the utmost disgust. How dare you pretend to love this team when, before the playoffs, you couldn’t even be bothered to know the scores of their games? Oh, really? You love this team? I bet you can’t even name five players on it.

Sometimes, a bandwagon fan can garner as much hate from a “real fan” as a fan of a rival team. And so I have to beg the question, why?

To begin to explore the reasoning behind this bandwagon hate, let me make a distinction between two kinds of bandwagon fans. There are the bandwagon fans who insist they are die-hard fans. They’ll pretend that they were there from the beginning; that they’ve been fans since back when the team sucked. Not only do they pretend to know everything about the team itself, but insist they know everything about the sport as well. This type of bandwagon fan deserves to be hated on and should be called out upon declaring themselves a die-hard fan.

On the other hand, there are those who tune in only during playoff season, or become fans after a championship, that are more than willing to admit it. They’ll be the first ones to tell you that they didn’t watch the team much during the season and probably couldn’t name more than a couple of star players. You have to respect their honesty.

The problem then becomes, where does one begin their journey to becoming a “real fan?” Can you only become a true fan of a team when they suck? If so, now is the time to become a Celtics fan.

It seems as though being a fan of a sports team has become similar to being a fan of an indie/underground musician. You don’t want them to become too popular for multiple reasons. If everyone becomes familiar with them, the fan club becomes less exclusive; less cool. You may also worry that, with so much popularity, they may become sellouts. The thing is, neither of these concerns translate to a sports franchise.

If you’re a fan of a team that doesn’t have that many other fans, that doesn’t mean you’re part of some exclusive club, it just means your team sucks. If you’re a real fan, you want your team to become more popular, because bigger markets attract big time players.

When it comes down to it, so what if someone isn’t a die-hard fan and isn’t as invested in the team as you are? At the end of the day, you both want the same thing and that’s for the team to win.

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