Coming to the defense of the bandwagon fan

 Hockey fans in Las Vegas can't be described as diehard, but they are still out there having fun. (photo by Christian Petersen)

Hockey fans in Las Vegas can't be described as diehard, but they are still out there having fun. (photo by Christian Petersen)

By Michael Moniz

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a person who takes part in or becomes enthusiastic about something only when it is popular or fashionable is considered a “bandwagon fan.” Chances are at some point, someone has called you this, either to try and separate you from whatever success you’re following or just try to put their own self on a higher level as a fan. I am here to tell that it is 100% fine to be a bandwagoner and that us “diehards” need people like you to help sustain the success of our team.

You see this with every team that has quick unexpected success, whether it’s during March Madness with its alumni scattered through the country and some guy in your office who went to Loyola (happened to me this year), or people that live in the Bay Area and cheer for the Milwaukee Bucks because they are of Greek heritage and their best player is from Greece. These are the small nuances that help bring a whole new demographic of fan to the sporting world. Without them, the product that is out there would be nowhere near what we see today.

If you know me, you know that I am a diehard Notre Dame fan. I’ve followed them probably closer than any other sports team, without having any real connection to the school other than being Catholic and part Irish (not just on St. Patrick’s Day).  But back when I was about five years old, I started off as a bandwagon fan. My older brother loved Notre Dame and everything he liked, I did too. We both jumped on the Notre Dame train that year and luckily they won the National Championship. 30 years later after heartbreak and constant ridicule from friends and family, I now wish big bro John was yelling “Roll Tide” back then instead.

With the Giants title runs in 2010, 2012, and 2014, along with the recent dynasty run by the Warriors, people LOVE to throw shade at us fans and call us out for jumping on a bandwagon. We immediately get defensive and usually spout off a few facts about having a Will the Thrill poster in our room growing up or saying that we used to emulate Tim Hardaway and his killer crossover to prove that we’ve been following the team long before they were considered a success. These people will then move on from bashing us to then going after the actual bandwagon fan base. The fan that doesn’t know more than three players on the team or you could’ve sworn was a Kings fan in the 2000’s. At this point, don’t try and distance yourself from the bandwagon fans. Embrace them.

Fans from other teams will be quick to shoot them down or feel like they need to quiz them on some obscure facts about the 1954 team or something to make them feel like they’re not a true fan. But who cares about the level of fandom? There is no rulebook or certain level of knowledge one must have to cheer for a team. Not everyone can be a huge fan with season tickets or have an infatuation with certain players. Does this apply to movies too? Do people quiz others while waiting in line for a premier and then ostracize them if they don’t know what the weather is like in Mordor from Lord of the Rings?

Fair weather fans mean just as much if not more to the bottom line for your team. They’re the ones that spend the massive amounts of money at the drop of a hat to get new merchandise during the playoffs to feel part of the excitement throughout the city. These fans help fill seats throughout the season for all those diehards that choose to watch the game at home because they want to listen to the announcers.

Yes, they will be the first ones to leave when you’re having a bad season. Who really cares though? Their excitement won’t come close to match yours when your team that you’ve rooted for your entire life wins a title. The feeling you get and the pure joy that it brings you is unlike anything else and can only be appreciated by people that’ve had it. That’s what being a fan is all about.

Bandwagon and diehards are all fans at the end of the day. Just enjoy the ride.