Being a sports fan is not all ‘fun and games’. Being a fan of a sports team (especially a losing sports team) might be one of the hardest ‘jobs’ out there. Yea it’s a job! We (true fans) dedicate a lot of time and money to supporting our teams. The effort and commitment that goes in to being a fan should not be scoffed at. So, again I say it’s a job. A lot of time it is a unrewarding job. Only one team in any competition can win the championship during a given year. That means all the fans of the other teams will be disappointed at the end of that year. However, when your favorite team finally wins the championship; the heartache and disappointment seems worth it. Some people don’t understand what it really means to be a fan. I came across this post entitled the absurdity of sports fan loyalty. Although the writer makes some interesting points, I can see that he truly doesn’t understand what it means to be a sports fan.
When you become a fan of a sports team, you develop a connection with that team. This connection might be formed because the team originates from your city, state or country. The connection might also be formed because you identify with the team or its players. It might have been the team your father or grandfather supported. Some people even become fans because they like the colors associated with a team. The rationale behind how you became a fan of a sports team is not important. What is important is your loyalty to that team. This is what differentiates a fan and a bandwagonist/average sports watcher. It’s all about the loyalty – Supporting your team through thick and thin, winning streaks and losing steaks, regulation and promotion.
To the average sports watcher, the relationship between a fan and their favorite sports team seems unbalanced at the very least. As a fan, you fork out money to attend matches or to buy team merchandise and memorabilia, while seemingly getting nothing in return. This could be furthest from the truth. There is an entertainment value, being part of an institution and the camaraderie among fans of a sports team. It’s like a family, and just like a regular family; sometimes you have to go in your wallet, sometimes you are disappointed, but you don’t give up on family. You stick it out, that’s something a bandwagonist fan will never understand. The bandwagonist is only there for the good times (championships), as soon as things get rough, they abandon the ship.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with bandwagonists. People are free to support whichever sports teams they choose. The problem true fans have with bandwagonists is that they want to be a part of the conversation. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Don’t approach me at the water cooler at work talking about how my team performed the day before. There are rules to being a fan; I won’t get in to those rules now. Bandwagonists should be treated like children in the presence of adults. They should be seen and not heard and only speak when spoken to. Being a true fan takes so much time and effort, it’s hard to have any respect for bandwagonists.