INTRO: Bandwagon fans are commonalities at all college and professional sporting events. They are here to stay too. But, should they? While many argue that they should be left alone and sports can be enjoyed for the sake of entertainment rather than emotional investment, others feel disgusted at the notion that casual fans jump onto bandwagons only when they feel the odds for winning are in their favor, and they cheat the system and are fake fans. Our Online Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Martinez (TM), argues the former argument and our Sports Editor, Benjamin Spiegelman (BS), argues the latter in this latest sports faceoff. Enjoy!
Beyond the undying passion, loyalty and sentimentality in fanbases across America, one word defines a spectator’s reason for attending a sporting event: entertainment. Bandwagon fans have been around since the first victors were crowned in athletics, and the rapidity of the technological age has heavily increased the stigma toward this form of fandom. In today’s sports landscape, casual fans often prefer watching Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers rather than the hometown Hawks. They prefer Kershaw and the Dodgers over Yelich and the Marlins. And, that is fine.
The consistent crucifixion of bandwagon fans amongst diehard fanbases stems from one notion: how is it fair that someone who struggles to describe the rules of football, for example, gets to celebrate the crowning of the Super Bowl champions while I have to wait until next year, my 50th year, supporting my pathetic Bills? The idea that many Americans’ sports affiliations are a significant part of their identity contributes to the manic craze that is college and professional sports. Yes, people with Cleveland Indians tattoos are allowed to feel disgusted when they find out their sports-oblivious neighbors were singing along to “Go Cubs Go” in celebration of Chicago edging them in the World Series. Yes, the national media was justified in criticizing Miami Heat fans who left early and subsequently missed the miraculous turnaround to the 2012-2013 NBA Finals Game 6. But, it does not need to get excessive.
Keep your thoughts of seething hatred toward the man in the Stephen Curry jersey with the tag on beneath your skin, because the sports affiliation of a stranger is not your business but theirs, and they are allowed to take sports for what it is: entertainment. They most likely do not seek entrance into your cult of fandom. Many people substitute sports for religion and oftentimes they substitute religious forums for Lebron vs. Jordan debates. They fail to realize that all of this is trivial, in reality. Diehards need to look at themselves in the mirror and question whether their loyalty to their team is healthy or if it is excessive before they take a stab at someone for sinning and wearing a Yankees hat in Boston.
The idea of a bandwagon fan is frustrating to dedicated sports fans. For example, when a fan of different NBA teams just decides to cheer for the team that LeBron James is playing against because they do not like James, it is unethical. As a Miami Heat fan, I do not want to cheer with people that have not been supporting my team through thick and thin.
I do not support people that only cheer for the sports teams in their city when they are doing well. A few of years ago, an empty Hard Rock Stadium was not a shock to anyone. One could find all of the Miami sports fans at American Airlines Arena cheering for the championship caliber team rather than going to Dolphin games. Now, when the Dolphins are finally starting to win under new head coach Adam Gase, Dolphins fan base has grown while if the arena fills now, it is a rarity.
However, bandwagon fans are much more prevalent in the playoffs. In the NFL once can see all NFL fans cheering for whatever team is playing the New England Patriots. In the NBA one can see all fans hating on the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. But the most frustrating bandwagon fan is the one that follows players around rather than an actual team. When you see those just following Steph Curry and Kevin Durant because you like them and don’t actually support the Warriors and would have no problem hating the Warriors if Curry and Durant left, I can speak for many different dedicated fans when I say that these teams do not need you.
Bandwagon fans are disgraces to any dedicated sports fan and can overall just be considered a fake fan. These “fans” need to pick a team already and stop floating around from organization to organization.