Bandwagon fans are the worst, aren’t they? They’re a bunch of front-running, boozed-up jerks who scream “WOOOO” in your face when the team is winning and then disappear during the bad years to leave us die-hards deep in the suck. I hate bandwagon fans so goshdarn much. But I think the reason why they annoy me to the core of my being is that I know that they’re smarter than me.
During this World Series, which heads for a decisive Game 7 on Tuesday, there has been no shortage of bandwagon fans coming out of the woodwork in favor of the Cubs or Indians. But the truth is that bandwagon fans have figured it out. They get to hop from party to party without feeling wounded over your GM mangling another draft pick. They’re your single friend that gets to go out and do whatever he or she wants while we devoted morons drink malt liquor in the tub with our gameday Zubaz still on. I resent these dinks for having the courage to go on endless joy benders.
What does loyalty get you? Martyr points? Those aren’t redeemable. The only people that get off on that are in the same spot and schadenfreude fetishists. I’m a Winnipeg Jets fan and I’ve resigned myself to misery for no sensible reason. I used to live in Winnipeg so I owe it to this local business to succeed. What kind of backwards ass logic is that? The Jets aren’t my family. They’re a thing I give money to in ticket and merch form in exchange for a smug sense of satisfaction on the rare occasion when something goes well.
Die-hard fans are no prize either. Steve Bartman was crucified within five minutes of his soul-crushing mistake. Then it was considered heroic this mortified dude was shamed into exile, followed by amazement by the people that threw garbage at him that he wouldn’t want to come back for to a public appearance for the World Series. Cleveland bros that get in your face to claim Chief Wahoo isn’t racist are in the same category, so neither side is sparkling perfection. “WE’RE BEING RESPECTFUL! HOW COME YOU DON’T TALK SH*T ABOUT THE CELTICS! MY COUSIN’S MECHANIC IS 1/4 IRISH AND HE HAS TO DEAL WITH THAT LOGO!” honks a suburban dude in a war bonnet and redface.
Geez, even the team I love isn’t immune to this.
“White is right! It’s a Winnipeg right!” *backflips into a woodchipper*
Bandwagon fans don’t have to harbor any of that guilt. If some horsesh*t bubbles up, they can split. Did you team sign someone with a history of sexual abuse? Bandwagon fans have the sense not to pretend fandom is mandatory. Instead of spending 20 years of your life projecting your hopes and dreams and childhood failures on the Minnesota Timberwolves, you can piss off and watch Oklahoma City Thunder games because Russell Westbrook is a human miracle and Steven Adams seems pleasant. When the Timberwolves are good, the team will still be there to watch at your convenience. Heck, sometimes it’s noble to bandwagon. I’m a Twins fan and yet I hopped on the Jays bandwagon in hopes Toronto could win another World Series before my grandfather dies or turns full racist.
Tastes change over time. So I Married An Axe Murderer is no longer my idea of flawless cinema, Canadian rebel fiddler/enfant terrible Ashley MacIsaac isn’t the peak of cool. If I can change that, why can’t I make my own decisions for my sports fawning, too? It’s not my job to make Team [X] better. I drink out of mugs with their stupid logo on it, so why shouldn’t I expect them to make me moderately happy?
That’s not to say it’s bad being a loyal fan. The victories are so much sweeter, the delusion is all the grander and the endless self-pity could fuel several Taste of Chaos tours. A lot of us aren’t wired for bandwagon life and that’s fine. Don’t take that weird hang-up out on the casuals. “Fake” Cubs fans aren’t going to absorb all the earned joy that comes from a World Series win and they won’t be consumed with the crushing low of losing, either. Just get high off the smugness of being the supporter that has the B-sides as well as the Greatest Hits. People are excited to like a thing you like. Isn’t this a good thing? It is a good thing. Don’t be weird about it.
(Legal Disclaimer: If you’re one of those ferret turds that somehow simultaneously claims Patriots, Yankees, Cavaliers and Blackhawks fandom in one greedy swoop, this half-hearted defense doesn’t apply to you. You shouldn’t be allowed to have sports feelings, you jackals.)