The University of Iowa University of Iowa

The Bandwagon Fan


I spoke with a friend recently who, in a wildly off-topic rant, went on to berate Blackhawks fans for their “newfound enthusiasm” for the hockey team. Or, as he put it, “a bunch of disloyal, fake, bandwagon fans.”

What is it about a new fan coming about during the good times that drives people so crazy? Because they weren’t there for the tough times when the “loyal” fans sat through shutouts and blowouts and losing season after losing season. Those fans have the notion that you must earn the right to be a fan, it’s not something that can be decided on a whim.

But why not? When is it socially acceptable for others to join? Unless you were raised a fan of the team, it seems you are doomed to be ridiculed for your fandom, or not become a fan at all.

I disagree. Becoming a fan when a team is playing well is perfectly acceptable. The term ‘bandwagon’ is overused in the sense that it is used for every new fan of a winning team, when instead, it should be used for the sports fan who bounces around year to year, deciding they like the Ravens last year, but the Broncos this year. That’s what a true bandwagon fan does. A person from the outskirts of Chicago should be able to cheer for their city no matter the sport. Conditionally, once you choose your team, you have to stay with them. When the times get tough, that’s when you have an obligation to stick it out with the other die-hards and hope for a better tomorrow. Bottom line—winning championships brings fans, but it doesn’t mean they’ll go away once the winning stops.

So don’t be so quick to judge the guy wearing a Patrick Kane jersey this season. Maybe he did just buy it after the 2013 championship, but my bet is, he’ll be wearing it long after Kane stops bringing home Stanley Cups.