If you’re a fan of any sport, one question you will hear often is, “What team do you root for?” About 99% of sports fans have a team they root for unless you’re one of the crazy people that are emotionless when you engage in a sporting event.
The typical follow-up question is, “Why do you root for them?” For some, this is an answer as simple as “I grew up there” or “my family lives there,” but others have to tell their whole life story to pinpoint why they’re a fan of a particular team. Both of those answers are acceptable in the sports world.
One answer that is never accepted and often frowned upon is the bandwagon answer. A bandwagoner is someone who starts to root for a team whenever they start doing well; they “jump on the bandwagon.” Not only is this type of fandom rude to the fanbase that has gone through the hard times, but it also takes away from your experience as a real fan of a team.
When you are a bandwagon fan, you miss out on the opportunity to have a real connection with a team. While some may view this as a benefit and say, “I didn’t have to go through the hard times, and I get to enjoy the good parts,” you don’t enjoy them as much as a real fan. When a 10-year Golden State fan watched their team win the NBA championship in 2015, they were immensely happier than a bandwagon fan who just started rooting for the team that year. Real fans can savor the victory and relish the good times more than a bandwagon fan.
Being a real fan can also be a big source of pride. One prime example of this is the people of Boston. As one of the top sports cities in the country, you can’t think of Boston without thinking of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. The city of Boston and sports are so intertwined that it’s impossible to imagine the city without sports.
When you watch any home game of professional team from Boston, you see how passionate the fans are. They arguably cheer louder than any other team’s fans (with the exception of Kansas City Chiefs fans) but also boo their own players whenever their play isn’t up to par. Boston fans are so passionate about their team that they will boo their own players because they are so invested in the team’s success. If you’re a bandwagon fan, you miss out on the passion of rooting for a team.
This connection to a team also gives you the feeling of being a part of something and can connect you to someone or something you love. Some fans have such deep roots to a team that it carries on in a family for generations. If you’re a bandwagon fan, you miss out on the connections with a team. You have trained yourself to jump to the “next best thing” and no longer get to experience the pain or the joys of rooting for a team.
If you’re a bandwagon fan, let me give you the opportunity to walk away from your history of shame. It’s OK, you’re forgiven. You can pick any team, just stick with them. It doesn’t have to be a team where you previously lived, but you should pick a team and start building a connection.