Any good sports fan can spot one, even if they were a mile away, wearing an eye mask, five sheets to the wind, and having just finished a game of dizzy bat (though none of that sounds like a good idea in any sort of way). Bandwagon fans stand out like a black eye. But why all of the hate?
In just the last 24 hours I’ve seen such harsh things written on the Twitters and Facebook about fair-weather fans—namely those in Boston (after the Red Sox clinched their 3rd World Series in the last decade) and the Philly (the upstart 76ers knocked off the Miami Heat last night). True, die-hard, loyal fans went above and beyond their “call of duty” to put down anyone who showed any amount of excitement about either team winning, and who they were absolutely positive was not a “real fan” of either team.
For anyone who partook in those shenanigans, I hope you’re reading, and listen closely: Stop it. Ripping on bandwagon fans makes you look like a jackass. Just let those “fake fans” enjoy whatever moment it is they want to revel in, and look the other way. They’re not hurting you. They’re not hurting your team. They should have little to no impact on your daily life as a fan, and how invested you are in your team. If anything, you should be proud and excited that other people—especially those born and raised in the same town as you—want to support and throw some passion behind the same thing you do (that sounded dirty, but I’m alright with it, and you catch my drift).
A few things to consider about bandwagon fans, that maybe could change how maliciously you act towards them.
1. Just because they don’t post social media updates after every inning, or bucket, or goal, or huge hit, doesn’t mean they’re not as big of a fan as you.
Lots and lots and lots of people use social media in lots and lots and lots of different ways. Some go way overboard with the things they post or how frequently the share things (I’m usually guilty of this), and others will make an update once in a blue moon. The Red Sox winning the World Series might’ve given people in the latter group cause to come out of the wood works and share in the moment of celebration. A huge win over the defending NBA champs might’ve given people in Philly a reason to get excited for a hot minute about the Sixers. I haven’t said much about the Flyers on Facebook, Twitter, or this blog during the first few weeks of the season—frankly because there hasn’t been much of anything nice to say—but that doesn’t make me a fair-weather Flyers fan. Every time I get a text from ESPN about a blown lead and eventually a loss, it still hurts. It hurts because I’m a fan. Bottom line: Don’t judge someone’s level of fandom by their social media engagement.
2. Yes, there absolutely are different levels of fandom, and as long as a bandwagoner isn’t a “bad fan” then I have no problem with them.
Every team in every city throughout the globe has a wide range of fans. You’ve got your die-hards who literally live and slowly die with their teams and show up to 90-100% of the games (home and away), and can recite the team’s entire roster down to the 7th bench player’s height, weight, wing span, where he went to school, what he majored in, and what his shooting percentage is in the 4th quarter with his team down by 1 with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. (These are mostly your beat reporters, retired old men, and the unemployed.) Then there’s your passionate fans who stay in tune with a team and follow them throughout the season, occasionally go to games and can hold a conversation. Casual fans (where most “bandwagoners” probably legitimately fall) know who the all stars are, they understand the game for the most part, and know how to have a good time if and when you take them to a game—but they don’t pretend to know everything about everyone like you, you die-hard Yankees-addict. Then we all know what a true bandwagoner is—the guy (or gal) who goes out and buys the championship t-shirt, their first piece of team apparel, and wears it for the next week. But hey, that’s more money to the organization, and as long as they aren’t showing up to games and causing a scene (like intentionally vomiting on people, or kicking girls in the face) who cares what they do? Embrace those folks, catch them up to speed, and convert them to die-hards.
We all had to become fans at some point. Sure they’re late to the party, but why are you going to try and shun them away and prevent them from having a good time? I’m a fan of that cliche, ‘The more the merrier.’ A packed Citizens Bank Park filled with 45,000 bandwagoners is a much better atmosphere than barely 10,000 unhappy, pissed off, grumpy ass die-hards. Invite those people into the “in” crowd and celebrate the fact that your team has a whole host of new fans.
3. Can bandwagoners be annoying? Sure. You know, deep down, that you were there through thick and thin, but crying about it only makes you seem like a douche.
Not much more I can say beyond that. Just know that whenever you complain about fair-weather fans, you’re just making yourself look like a fool. If you know in your heart that you are a real fan, that’s great for you. There’s no need to act all tough behind a keyboard (no, the irony is not lost on me here). You just sound all whiny and childish. “This was my team first! I love them more than you, and there’s no way you’ll ever be as big a fan as me! I have a different jersey I can put on for each day of the month. And they’re all authentic replicas that I spent my last seven paychecks on. How many jerseys do you have, (and t-shirt jerseys count for negative one)? Huh? HUH!?!? How many losses did you agonize through? How many dates with real girls did you pass up on so you could make it to each game of that big weekend series against the Mets? How many times have you sat in the 700 Level with the real fans? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Go back to being a fake fan, you fake fan, you.”
You with me?
I get that people are going to get passionate and want to act all macho about big of a fan they are, and they want to prove to themselves and others that they are, by far, the biggest fan in the world, but who are you really benefiting? Your ego? Maybe, but that’s all. People are going to be their own kind of fan at their own pace that they’re comfortable with, and everyone else should learn to respect that.
At the very least, learn to ignore those who you think are fair-weather in nature, and refrain from making yourself look ridiculous.
[Steps down from soapbox.]