Written by Justin Wenig
There are real sports fans and then there are “bandwagoners”. Real fans despise these seemingly fake fans. Bandwagoners claim to be justified in their sports disloyalty by pointing out that real fans are senseless for hating them and that they are good for sports in general. The problem is, bandwagoners don’t know enough about sports to even make that claim, which is false.
Bandwagoners say that real fans have no reason to hate them but they lack perspective. Real sports fans are social creatures who want to share the euphoria they experience when their favorite team wins with each other. But bandwagoners are like party crashers who ruin the good vibes. They obnoxiously claim to have the same experience despite feeling completely different from real fans.
The feeling of winning is different because real fans and bandwagons have different reasons for being happy. Part of the fun in sports lies in watching the other team lose and rubbing it into the faces of haters. If you are a real San Francisco Giants fan, part of the fun of winning the World Series was in rubbing it into the faces of friends who have taunted you in the past. Real fans are the people that have been put down and have taken the blow as fans for the other team celebrates. Winning the World Series is like bragging rights in a never-ending cycle of sports fun and suffering—one that every real fan participates in. Bandwagoners are cheaters; they skip the suffering that real fans have to experience in order for the competitive nature of sports to occur and skip right to the fun while ruining the cycle itself in the process.
Bandwagoners often ask, “Why struggle when you can just have fun?” Well, why didn’t both the Giants and the Royals just hang up their cleats and go get drunk instead of playing seven games? What is the point of even having a competition? The fun is not in winning by itself; it is in winning after a struggle. For this reason, and that real fans actually have to struggle, bandwagoners are clueless about why watching sports is actually fun.
Bandwagoners also claim that they are beneficial to sports in general because they increase overall fan participation. Note that the most bandwagoned teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat and the New York Yankees. These teams are also in three of the biggest markets in America. So what is the problem with having huge fan bases of pseudo fans in big markets?
The issue is that having fans focused on the surface level of sports in major markets creates team inequality. These bandwagon fan can often be seen wearing LeBron James jerseys or wearing the gear of the team they support. This floods money into companies like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. When these companies see big revenues in the major markets, they also become willing to pay superstar level players that are in these big markets huge sums of money. This attracts superstars like Carmelo Anthony to New York and pushes superstars like Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City. So every time a bandwagoner hops on to the big-city bandwagon, they really are contributing to team inequality.