Like many other sports enthusiast, I cannot stand bandwagon fans. The word "fan" is obviously derived from the word "fanatic" which suggests the seemingly impulsive and yet insatiable desire to pursue unwaveringly an insistent associative ideal. You hear the term "fanatic(al)" when people refer to the militant or combative aspects of religion from time to time. It's usually when some sort of hostile intent is especially evident like when a human bomb kills a lot of people. Arguably, fanaticism can be a dangerous thing. Even in the glorious world of sports you see things go too far. Pranks are one thing even in horrible taste but when a man is damn near beaten to death at a Dodgers/Giants game we need to seriously re-evaluate whether what we're cheering for is really worth this price or not. I've had to endure the association of bad sportsmanship at Texas Tech. By the way, EVERY school has their demons including Texas A&M, UT, and Baylor. I'll not abide anyone saying differently. Over the top "classless" fans are everywhere so we need to be able to own up and tell the damn difference. Be proud but not gullible or stupid. To be a part of something greater than ourselves is incredible but it's also supposed to be somewhat humbling. Guess we dropped the ball on that one. I offer this preface simply to get a grip on fan hood before we discuss the woodwork wiggling antithesis of the actual, legitimate fan.
I acknowledge that "bandwagoning" is a difficult thing to avoid at times. It's our nature to desire being accepted and supported and going against the current with rows of the outspoken doesn't exactly bathe us in the warm, glowing embrace of the winning whatever. However, it's pretty cowardly to jump on the tail end of something having not been through the disheartening trenches of the dark days or even the beginning of any turning point. I've been a Texas Rangers fan since I was a young boy. Along with many of my friends, I've grown up with a number of Yankee and Red Sox fans despite living in Central Texas. (I once shouted at a guy wearing a ton of Red Sox stuff at Rangers/As game: "You forget what game you were at jackass?!" My friend Ryan got mad at me. I still think it was somewhat funny but he was probably right) It was curious two seasons ago how suddenly there were Rangers fan everywhere. I can't help but wonder where they all were before we started making trips not only to the playoffs but to the World Series. I also wonder now where have all the Cowboy (fans) gone? I really hate that stupid song by the way. Our 'Boys have had a rough go of it the past several years and I notice a lot of negative talk, fewer banners, fewer shirts, and just general malaise at the topic.I'll admit, I've faltered like anyone at frustrations and losses yet I wash the beer, blood, and tears out of my apparel and return ready to cheer even louder. I've had fun little exchanges with students too about college teams. There was one occasion when Tech lost to Texas and one of my students decided it was a good idea to give me shit about it. He sat there with a smug grin on his face so I smiled back and asked him where he went to school. He answered "MCC." I then provoked him with "So you don't go to UT. Have you applied there?" "No." "Has anyone from your family ever gone there?" "Uhh.." "Have you ever set foot on the campus?" "Well..I've been to Austin.." (His smug smile has disappeared by now.) "So let me get this straight: I've received two degrees from my university, never missed a home game while also attending away games, I continue to support my Alma mater as I actually have one, I have Tech apparel and memorabilia all over my home and office...and you bought a hat. Yeah, you can't say a damn thing to me." It's easy to root for a team that generally wins all of the time.
It's interesting how these associations can bring out the worst in us. Bandwagoning doesn't even have to be the "fear-of-being-left-behind" congregating of support...in fact it can be quite the opposite. Whether you like him or not, Tim Tebow is an interesting person. An underdog story with Christian undertones coming nearly to fruition is going to draw attention to be sure. However, it's not the support you hear about when conversing about the unconventional NFL quarterback. There are plenty of people (whom I've encountered anyway) who simply say that they dislike (or even hate in some cases...funny to hate someone whom you've never met) without rational means as to why. You can't dislike someone without reason. If you don't like the way they play or perform, that's one thing, but to espouse vicious venom of a personal stranger in the public eye is suspicious and certainly irresponsible. It sounds more like there's the fear of being outspoken and damn it we all want so badly to be accepted so by all means hate, hate, hate. In this case it's the disdain that brings us closer together. There has to be a better way. Whether it's sports, politics, or whatever "hating" someone or a team simply because you want to be in a supportive environment isn't going to cut it and honestly makes you look pretty insecure.
One of the most recent bandwagon trends I've seen is Baylor Football. For years and years the turnout at Floyd Casey Stadium was minimal at best which saw fewer spectators at the half when it became apparent that the Bears would not win the game. Now however crowds are coming in droves, I consider myself a supporter of Baylor due to the fact that I live in Waco and enjoy the opportunity to cheer for a home team. I feel like my "fan-hood" is justified in that I've lived in Waco most of my life and have always supported Baylor, even as a Red Raider, which includes time during their "suck" years. That being said, you won't see me posting "hate" on Facebook or rending my garments or wailing, etc. if Baylor happens to lose a game...even a big one. On the other side of things you won't see me adding "III" to the end of my Facebook name nor will I be buying any Superman socks. I do believe there is a difference between supportive association and "everyone else is doing this so I need to as well." While originality is being hurled out the window bandwagoners are all too happy to lick the balls of willing assimilation. I will state firmly that Robert Griffin, the Baylor quarterback, did in fact deserve the Heisman trophy. It brings (finally) more positive notoriety to Waco and establishes credibility for Baylor Football. There...that's done. What's next? Believe it or not I have more important things to than follow trends.
Granted, there are plenty of people who cheer temporarily for a person or team because of their immediate surroundings and it's fun. I think that's benign and not at all what I'm referring to. It's those who are vocal and zealous about their associations that I'm focusing on.
A true fan never expects to win, they only hope for victory. The "fan" who leaves at the half, hangs the one shirt in the closet, and bitches on Facebook when a team loses a game, even a big one, should do us a favor and "cheer" for someone else. A true fan will sit drenched in raining misery and stand up .Victories are sweeter and loses are bearable because we endured it ALL together. Now get off that f-ing wagon and walk. It'll be difficult and take a lot longer but it's worth it. We're a little farther back but we're still behind you.
(An update on my Face`book from June 13, 2011: "Saw the biggest "bandwagon van" ever this morning on the way to work. The rear glass contained Miami Heat, LA Lakers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees (what??) UT Longhorns, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Manchester United, and New England Patriots stickers. Toolbag. If that was your van then I'm sorry...that you're a toolbag.")