Picture this scenario: It’s Game 7 of the *insert league acronym here* Finals, and your favorite team is playing. This team has had a tough road to get here, and you know every crucial thing that has altered their course throughout the season.
You have given this team many years of love, money, and bloody fingernails. You own five jerseys that you actually paid top dollar for. Not a day goes by where you don’t read a least one article about the team, or at least have a brief conversation about them. (Yes, I am counting the offseason.)
You count down the days until the Draft, maybe even making a list of prospects that you want your team to grab. You may even have a foot tattoo of this team’s logo. At least 60% of your best memories have come from watching this team.
Basically, you are a die-hard fan of this team, and nobody can ever take that from you.
Back to Game 7. In a physical battle between your team and their ninny opponents, your team ends up winning in overtime.
You are ecstatic, and ready to sprint to the stadium, kissing every pretty girl you see on the way there. Your team is CHAMPION!!!
But are they really “your” team? Sure, you may feel entitled to some sort of exclusive fan club, because the love you have for this team only rivals the love you have for your mother.
Does that not allow other people, who give a lot less effort than you do showing loyalty for the team, to enjoy the big victory?
My answer: to an extent.
It’s no secret that this is how I feel about the Patriots, Celtics, and Sox (the Red ones). I give these teams everything I’ve listed above (without the foot tattoo). The team’s performance affects my whole attitude. Don’t believe me? Try talking to me the week after a Patriot’s loss. Unless you’re in the dumps as much as I am, stay away.
On the other hand, there is nothing quite as sweet as the fruits of a victory from your soul’s investment. (That’s deep. I know.) No matter what happens during a Patriots game, there are a small handful of people I will talk to. These are people I confide in either to lift my spirits after a loss (and try to do the same for them), or claim premature championships after a regular season win.
Now, somewhere in between all this excitement/agony, you might stumble onto a social media website. This is an alternate universe where everybody has an opinion (rightfully so), but with someone’s opinion usually comes with someone else’s counter (or hatred). There’s nothing wrong with that, in certain situations.
Surely, if someone is putting up a “Free Jahar” status, they deserve to have their asses chewed out by all 38 of their Facebook “friends”. But, if someone claims to be upset, or happy with the result of a big game that “YOUR” team played in, does that give you the right to ridicule them for not putting in as many hours as you?
I understand if this person doesn’t know the difference between a basketball and a field goal post, and over exaggeratingly claims to be “suicidal” after a huge loss, but what’s wrong with a little local camaraderie?
I think everyone should get excited for their city’s big game, since they’re the ones who live and work surrounded by the die-hards.
Everybody knows that if the Bruins lost Game 7 last night, especially after a 3-1 series lead, all of New England would be a bit more… hostel. Everyone would keep their noses down waiting in line at any one of the 30,000 Dunkin Donuts located in New England, knowing that if you look at someone the wrong way, they may be in “Attack Mode,” and that’s never good for any innocent bystander.
I am a bandwagon Bruins fan. I will admit that with no problem, or regrets. I’ll occasionally check the NHL standings throughout the season; I’ll watch maybe five or six games per season (usually opening night, any game vs. Montreal, and a few others if they are on at the bar, which they rarely are in Winter Park, Florida); Hell, I’ll even dominate dudes on Xbox Live with the Bruins (which leads me to actually being able to name most of the players).
I have watched almost every Bruins playoff game of the last few years, because they are the professional hockey team closest to my hometown. I don’t claim to be a passionate Bruins fan, because honestly, if they lost last night, I wouldn’t have lost an ounce of sleep. That doesn’t mean I wanted them to lose. I’m happy they won, because I have a few friends who are die-hards, and that is who the Bruins really play for.
If I lived in New York, I’d be rooting for the Rangers, Jets, Knicks, and *gulp* the Yankees. (Shout out to my parents for conceiving me in beautiful New England.) That’s just the way it goes. People in New England aren’t supposed to be Yankee fans; people in Los Angeles aren’t supposed to be Celtics fans; and people in the United States shouldn’t be hockey fans. (Just kidding.)
Not everybody likes the same team to the same degree, so with the help of some colleagues, I’ve cobbled together five real (but, in the end, fictional) examples, which will represent the different stages of bandwagon fans.
I present to you….
The Five Stages Of Bandwagon Fans
“I got my kid watching Star Wars. He/she loves it!” “That’s awesome? Which movie is his/her favorite?” “Oh, he/she is too young to have seen any of the movies yet. He/she really loves The Clone Wars though!”
THE CLONE WARS?!?! First off, this sounds like it could be a real thing, where two medical enterprises duke it out in a race to clone the first human. At least that’d be interesting to read about (or watch, if they ever turned it into a reality series).
How dare this parent expose their poor (and now tainted) child to such an awful spinoff! This poor kid will more than likely watch episodes 4-6 one day although probably not before he/she watches the forgettable episodes 1-3, because his/her parents had terrible youths, and couldn’t be further out of touch with The Force.
When this child watches the REAL Star Wars, and are asked which is their favorite, they will probably say Clone Wars, and we all know who to blame for that. I put this as Stage One because it is the only bandwagon that can be given second-hand.
“Oh, you like Pokémon games?” “Love ‘em! Yellow has always been my favorite.”
Back in 1997, an old friend’s mother too me to a local trading card shop, Rah-Coco’s. (To this day, the name of this shop is one of life’s biggest mysteries. Maybe two friends named Victor Rah and Chuck Coco owned it? Who knows? Not me.) We went to Rah-Coco’s so my friend could buy another pack of these trading cards called Pokémon.
Now, I have no clue what that word meant, and seeing as the only trading card I had ever owned at the time was a Moe Vaughn rookie card given to me by my grandfather, I was more than intrigued. He bought a pack, and his mom offered to buy me one as well. I think I said something along the lines of, “Um… Fuck yes?” Once I saw that holographic Venusaur, I was all in.
The next year, Pokémon came out with not one, but TWO games for Game Boy. (They released a Red version and a Blue version, where the only true difference between the two games was whoever bought the Blue version was a bitch. Don’t ask why.)
Whoever bought me Pokémon Red, I owe you a lot. You brought me to the light. Even these days, I’ll put that sucker back in my old Game Boy.
Not for nostalgia reasons, but because Gary Oak deserves to die at the hands of my Level 99 Machamp every once in a while.
One year later, the wonderful Pokémon people of Japan had released another game in the United States: Pokémon Yellow. I didn’t understand what the big deal was, until I found out that it’s biggest difference was, not only being followed all game long by the electric little rat Pikachu, but you actually had a chance to own all three starter Pokémon (Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander) throughout the game. HOLY SHIT!
I had to get this game, because I was nine years old, and didn’t know loyalty yet. The game was great, no doubt, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original Red (and Blue, I guess) version.
People who say Yellow is their favorite Pokémon game need to grow up, and realize that they don’t know how the world works.
“Dude, honestly, Metallica is one of my favorite bands.” “Yeah man, they rock so hard!! Which album is your favorite?” “Well, see, I don’t actually own any albums, but their Guitar Hero game melts my face.”
Give me a second to go to the bathroom, and smash my head into the mirror…
…Alright, I’m back.
Look, I’m only 22 years old. I wasn’t born until 1990, at which point Metallica was already the biggest band in the world. Before I was born, they already had lost their bassist Cliff, found a new one, released four albums, and were labeled “mainstream” right around my 1st birthday.
Metallica is one of my favorite bands, and if you doubt that, just go into my archives where I pick out eight plays from the first four games of the 2012 Patriots season, and compare each of them to a different Metallica album. Shit, I even came up with the clever title Patriotallica: A Quarter Season Tribute.
Seeing them live at Yankee Stadium was one of the best nights of my life. Hearing them on the radio as a four-year-old made me wanna get out of my car seat, and head bang like Barney the Dinosaur was the lead singer.
Moments like that shaped me into the massive fan of the band I am today.
For someone to actually claim that they love the band because they heard them for the first time on Guitar Hero is a slap in the face to me, and all the rest of Metallica Faithful.
Maybe I should have put this as Stage 5 instead of 3, because this is almost as bad as bandwagon gets. Almost.
“A few cheers now for Rocky Balboa. Suddenly, Moscow is Pro-Rocky!”
This is a quote said by none other than American Commentator #1 (as credited on IMDB). It is from Rocky IV, one of my top-five favorite movies. This quote is said in a later round of an exhibition match between prideful American, Rocky Balboa, and the Russian machine, Ivan Drago.
This match was only called on after Drago killed Rocky’s best friend, Apollo “Carl Weathers” Creed in another exhibition fight on American soil. As Rocky’s best friend/trainer/heterosexual lifemate Apollo is dying in his arms, Rocky looks up at Drago, who shows his carelessness of Creed’s life with the unforgettable quote (and my next face tattoo), “If he dies, he dies.” Rocky is pissed!
Rocky challenges Drago to a fight, which Drago candidly accepted, under the stipulation that the fight be held in Russia. Let it be known that Drago is “unbeatable” and a crowd favorite in Moscow.
We all know how serious the Russians are about their sports, and how much they hate losing (See: 1980 Winter Olympics).
It’s made clear that this crowd is pro-Drago when Rocky comes out to more boos and jeers than Aaron Boone throwing out the first pitch at Fenway. The crowd doesn’t let up, supporting their tall, blonde, indestructible product of the Soviets.
You’re not gonna believe this, but after a few rounds of Rocky getting beat down, he musters a bit of energy and power, even getting a good enough right hook in to cut Drago’s eye.
Once Trainer Duke belts out “YOU CUT HIM! YOU HURT HIM! YOU SEE? YOU SEE? HE’S NOT A MACHINE! HE’S A MAN,” it is on.
Rocky goes for the kill, much to the surprising delight of what was once a pro-Drago crowd. The crowd even starts chanting, “ROCKY! ROCKY!” SPOILER ALERT: Rocky knocks out Drago, while the whole crowd cheers for him in appreciation.
Not only has Rocky defeated Drago, but he brought an entire crowd behind his corner. These people are about as bandwagon as they come!! Can you imagine if the USA crowd started rooting for the Soviet hockey team in 1980??
This is pretty much the same thing!! That night would have been one of the craziest, most flip-flop night’s in Russian social media history. That’s for sure.
“Excuse me, sir, I really like this Patriots hat, but one question: do you have it in pink?” “Oh, boy…”
No matter what part of the country you come from, I can guarantee you know at least one person who is a pink hat fan. Now, you don’t need to literally own a pink hat, jersey, or t-shirt to be considered a pink hat fan. I don’t think there are any guys out there that own one. (Actually, I take that back.)
I’m talking about the people who actually claim to love a team, even going out and maybe buying some sort of apparel, because they are under the impression that loving a sports team is solidified by wearing a $5 gas station hat that has a logo that kinda looks like the real one.
If you claim to LOVE the Patriots, and I ask you to name a defensive player, and the best name you come up with is Tedy Bruschi, expect to be dropkicked. If you claim to “love” a team, but don’t watch a game because a new episode of The Kardashians is on, you’d better not fall asleep in my presence.
When I watch a game on TV, and see the people in the crowds who are on their phone at any point in time, I silently pray that they get into a fender bender on the drive home. Can’t Words With Friends wait??
Your rich dad obviously bought you expensive tickets so he and your mother can finally have a night to themselves, and you go and slap him in the face by doing what should only be reserved for the life’s most boring moments.
Don’t say you “love” something unless you truly do. Don’t claim to be an “expert” on something unless you are prepared to be challenged on the subject.
And if you are one of the masses who falsely claim these things about one of my teams on a daily basis, I have news for you: Fenway Park is small. Those seats should only be filled with asses who can name a player other than Nomar. Facebook can wait.
I guess the point of me writing this was to let y’all know I will be watching the rest Stanley Cup Playoffs, and no matter how much this might pain some of you to read, I will be cheering on the Bruins. And, honestly, I may squeeze in a game of Words With Friends.
Don’t give me that look.
Written by Derek Lombardo