Recently, I was out of town on an NFL Sunday. Before my beloved Seattle Seahawks kicked off, I went to the store for some gameday snacks.
While I was at the store, someone noticed my Seahawks cap and Russell Wilson jersey and then smirked, “What do we have here, a bandwagon fan? How long have you rooted for Seattle? Since 2013?”
“Nope,” I shot back. “Try 1977 and I’ve got a signed letter from Jim Zorn to prove it.”
That is true. When I was a little kid, I wrote to quarterback Jim Zorn, my favorite player. He wrote me back.
Yes, it was a form letter, but when you’re seven you don’t know that nor do you care.
The gentlemen sighed and went on his way. I returned to my hotel room and watched the Hawks throttle the San Francisco 49ers.
The incident got me thinking about the concept of bandwagoning. You know, when a team starts winning, they suddenly have a bunch of fans.
Cynic sports fans, which is just about every sports fan, assumes that most of the fans rooting for a winner are bandwagoners.
For some reason, people have determined that being a bandwagoner is bad. Fans want other fans to be loyal. You’re supposed to pick a team and stay with it.
I wonder though if fans who champion such loyalty are loyal in other avenues of their life or are they just loyal when it comes to sports?
Also, it’s easy to be loyal when you’re a New England Patriots or Denver Broncos fan. It’s a lot harder to be loyal when you’re a Cleveland Browns or Detroit Lions fan.
Personally, I think being a bandwagon fan is fine… if you’re eight or ten years old. But when you’re old enough to drive, you’re also old enough to pick a team and stay with them for the rest of your life.
A grown adult jumping on a team’s bandwagon (unless they’ve never been a fan before) is gauche. If you show up to an NFL watching party decked out in Minnesota Vikings garb, and you’ve never been further north than San Jose, you’re an idiot.
Yet, there is an escape clause.
One of my favorite players was Peyton Manning. I rooted for him when he was on both the Indianapolis Colts and the Broncos.
Even though I rooted for Manning (but not in the Super Bowl he played against the Seahawks), I never bought any of his teams’ merchandise and I never rooted for his teams to defeat my team.
Also, I call myself a lifelong Seahawks fan, but I’m not a diehard Seahawks fan. My affinity towards the team can die very quickly.
Currently, they are very easy to support, but if they start losing they will lose my support. Well, they’ll lose my financial support.
I don’t think this makes me a fair-weather fan or a bandwagoner. As for lacking loyalty, my first loyalty is to myself. I don’t want to support a franchise that’s losing all the time.
I wouldn’t buy a product that doesn’t works well. Why would I wear a jersey for a team that isn’t playing well?
So, where does that leave us?
Unless you’re a kid, you can’t abandon your team for whatever team is currently favored to win the Super Bowl.
Once you’ve pick a team, you have to stay with that team for the rest of your life (unless you burn all of the team’s paraphernalia in a dark arts inspired ceremony).
You can root for any team you want, but you can only wear merchandize that belongs to your lifelong team.
You don’t stop rooting for your team when they’re not doing well, but you should avoid supporting them financially until they turn things around.
When your team is winning, enjoy the run!