By Kyle Taylor, sports columnist
We all know the type. They’ve been a fan of a team “since the beginning.” They bleed the team’s colors, and they’ve been dedicated to watching every home game since they figured out how to use a TV. They even built a shrine to the star player in their basement closet that they pray to every full moon.
There is no limit to the lengths a true bandwagon fan would go to prove their loyalty, and disproving them is no easy task.
A bandwagon fan is someone who claims to be a fan of a sports team that is winning without any previous evidence to support this claim. Recently, you could recognize bandwagon fans by their Warriors and (pre-Super Bowl) Panthers paraphernalia.
For anyone who you haven’t known for long, it could just be a coincidence that they are fans of the Panthers, Warriors, Royals and Blackhawks. That Carolina-Oakland-Missouri-Chicago pride is obvious, right?
Admittedly, it is hard to spot bandwagoners. One thing is for sure: Pop quizzes are certainly not the answer. Knowing facts about a team used to mean that you’ve been around long enough to pick up the general knowledge about things. Questions like “what’s the middle name of the coach’s son’s girlfriend that he had in fourth grade” is arbitrary and says more about a strange obsession of yours instead of the lack of knowledge a bandwagoner may have.
Seriously, that’s just weird.
Being a “real” fan isn’t about knowing the allergies of every water boy near the bench. A real fan just feels a draw to an organization, a player or a team. Whether you like the colors or the style of play, you’re a fan if you rep your team. If you want to be a Texan who just feels the spirit of the Knicks, then you’re more than welcome to root for Porzingis and Carmelo before Harden and Dwight.
Everyone has to start somewhere. You don’t become a diehard fan in a day, and that is too often forgotten. Anything other than following a team since birth means that at some point, you were a new fan. I’m sorry, but not everyone in the world is there day one.
Large competitions like the World Cup have seen the positive influence of bandwagon fans. After the 2014 World Cup, the MLS saw considerable increases in viewership, according to ESPN and Fox Sports. New fans can help bring a global sport like soccer to a higher popularity in the United States. An increased viewership would attract high-caliber players to our league, rather than the MLS serving as stepping stone to the Premier League or a soft way to end the careers of aging European players. Could you imagine a player like Messi or a Ronaldo gearing up for a game in New York or L.A.? Me neither, but maybe in ten to fifteen years we’ll be able to get the next legend to play for American soil. All we need is more bandwagon fans.
Now whether or not you root for your hometown team or the team you just enjoy, a fan is a fan. Our sports knowledge may vary, and we may not know all of the rules, but if you refrain from being obnoxious and obvious with your bandwagon-ing, your friends may give you a pass. Sticking to a team is best, however.
The Warriors are enjoying the benefit of the bandwagon for the moment, but empires fall and are replaced with new ones. Just ask the Lakers. Every team gets their share of losing seasons and each team in sports has a rooted fan base somewhere. The fans of the best teams just get the luxury to cheer louder.
You will like the teams you like and other people will like the teams that matter to them. The only real way to know who’s a fan of who is to make mental notes of your friends’ affiliations. If done correctly, you’ll question what happened to the Curry fans just as I wonder where all the day-one Miami Heat fans have gone off to.