Friday, November 1, 2013

Guest blog: The Argument for the 'Bandwagon Fan'

This week we have a special guest blog. My good friend Susan wants to weigh in on her opinion about the so-called "Bandwagon fan." She makes some good, really solid points. Let's not throw around the phrase "Bandwagon fan" so freely in the future, mmmm kay?

The Argument for the 'Bandwagon Fan'

Last night was the first time I witnessed the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. In 2004, I was backpacking around France and in 2007, I watched the entire series only to get really sick on the last night and fall asleep due to an overdose of cold meds.

Finally 2013 was the year I got to witness the magic firsthand. When that last out was made, I was excited and proud, not just for the players, but for the entire city of Boston. After posting a photo of a me and a few of my friends in our Red Sox hats, the “bandwagon fan” comments started. Not just on my page, but in general; the Facebook newsfeed was littered with comments from both Boston fans and non-Boston fans alike, hating on the so-called  “bandwagon fans.”

A bandwagon fan by definition is anyone who claims they are a "fan" of a particular sports team, even though they had no prior support for/interest in the team until that team started winning.  By this definition, I don’t qualify.  I grew up 20 miles outside Boston and was raised as a Red Sox fan; my dad did field maintenance at Fenway Park when I was a kid; I went to my first game when I was in sixth grade; I’ve celebrated birthday’s in those stands, and some of my favorite college memories involve the Red Sox.

I will admit, like many of you, I don’t watch every game, in fact I rarely tune in for a regular season game. I love going to the ball park, but don’t find regular season play to be all that exciting on TV. Playoff baseball is different. There’s passion behind it that doesn’t shine through in quite the same way on warm day in July that it does on a cool night in October. The players are different and the fans are different – because it’s finally so close we can taste it, and we want to be part of the magic. 

I often wonder how full Fenway Park would be if you were only allowed to come in if you had watched every game that season? For most of us, a trip to Fenway is a once-, maybe twice-a-year treat. On any given night, the park is made up of people that the hardcore fans would consider “bandwagon fans,” but really we’re just regular folks who feel connected to a team and want to support them when we can, and however we can – even if that only means catching a handful of games a year.

We need to remember so-called "bandwagon fans" contribute to revenue - they buy hats, tickets, and beers at the stadium. That revenue helps the team continue to scout top players and invest in and develop young talent. The bandwagon or fair-weather fans play a role in the success of the Red Sox, or any team for that matter, whether the hardcore fans like it or not.

On April 15, 2013, the Red Sox played their annual Boston Marathon day game. No one could have predicted the horror that would happen that day, but what could be predicted was how the Red Sox reacted.  They carried the Boston Strong message and spirit with them throughout the season, honoring those who lost their lives or were injured at the marathon finish line, and giving strength to a city that already was one of the strongest in the world.

Last night when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, they weren’t "Red Sox Strong;" they were Boston Strong, and whether you watched every game all season, or if you only tuned in for the last 10 minutes of the game, if you’re from Boston, you’re a fan - and no one should be able to take that away from you.

Susan, right, and two other Red Sox supporters living in Washington D.C.,
the night the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.

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