Friday, March 11, 2011

Bandwagon fans...maybe they're on to something? Cough Cough Boston Red Sox fans...

Up until about a year ago I was the first person to hate on bandwagon fans. My general thinking was that you should support your team no matter what happens, if they stink it shouldn't matter, don't be a fan just because your team is winning...But I was listening to the radio a while back and heard something interesting that I decided I couldn't really disagree with...

The guy on the radio explained that bandwagon fans are actually the smartest type of fan there is...yes you read that right, they are GOOD fans...But how could that be? Isn't loyalty something important in sports? You love your team through thick and thin because they are yours. This guys argument took the loyalty idea and showed why you shouldn't support losing the Seattle Mainers for example. The idea is that organizations have no need to try to win if their fan base is going to stay loyal, go to games and buy merchandise. The owners and GMs are trying to make money, and if winning games helps then they will do that, but why worry about winning when you can make the same money, or more by being mediocre?

The other reason being over-faithful is a poor decision is that it allows the team to remain at the status quo. Why would they make changes when they are still loved? Think of it like this...You're married or dating someone and she loves you even though all you do is sit on the couch and watch TV. You don't have to put any work in, everything is great. Why would you ever want to change things?

Thats how it works with over-loyal fans. Bandwagon fans are more like this...You're in the relationship, everything is great and both people are working together and love is all around. But one day you think you can stop doing any work, you want to just sit on the couch and relax all day. But she is not going to let that happen, she gives you the choice, either improve or she's out. You need her so you will obviously make the changes needed for her. 

In both cases you are the GM and she is the what would you want? The GM who has no reason to improve or the one who has to either make changes or they're done?...I want the GM to change if he's a loser.

To be clear I am not saying that championship chasers are smart fans...those people are just losers at life. I used to be one of those though..When I was young I was a Chicago Bulls fan while they won all of their titles, then when Jordan left I became a Houston Rockets fan as they won a championship. Same thing happened with the Atlanta Braves in baseball and the Tennessee Titans in the NFL...But I was young and didn't know any better and eventually learned. 

There isn't much of a feedback area for fans who want to show their displeasure with a team, the only thing I can think of is with signs at the game, but then you've bought a ticket which gives more money to the money hungry GM. So why not ignore the team? Don't go to games, don't buy their products, just flat out don't support them. Eventually they will have to make a change in what they are doing or they will fall apart. Loyal fans fund their teams, but why would you pay for a failing product? Would you go to a movie you knew was going to be bad? NOPE, but you go to games and complain afterwards right?

I doubt many bandwagon fans are thinking about this when they jump on the bandwagon of a winning team...But it doesn't mean it is such a bad thing. My belief is that everyone has their favorite teams, mine are the M's, Hawks and Huskies...all teams who have had their ups and their downs...Especially the M's which has led me to not caring much about them. Are they still my favorite baseball team? Yes of course, and I will follow them, but I will not be buying any M's hats or shirts any time soon, and I won't be going to many games until they improve their organization. Same goes for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Huskies...I am going to root for them in every single game, when they win I'll be the first to say something good about the win, but it doesn't mean I have to show my support for them every day. 

When those teams are the talk of the town, I will be leading the charge there too, call me a bandwagon fan if you want to, but I will respond by calling you a ignorant fan of mediocrity.

The only fans I won't give this credit to are Boston Red Sox fans. Half of them never cared about baseball until the Sox won thw world series. The other half have legit reason's though to jump aboard the bandwagon, those who have lived in Boston forever and had their dreams crushed year in and year out.

Champion chacers are pansies, but bandwagon fans are geniuses...End of story.


Jared said...

I feel like there's a very interesting debate here. And it's an extremely fine line. I actually couldn't agree more that teams can get complacent if they're supported the same while losing that they are while winning. Although people that only pay attention when their teams are successful drive me crazy. I find that to be the difference. As a loyal fan and supporter of all my teams, I will be attentive and faithfully follow every move they make. However, what I WON'T do is be content with mediocrity and blindly throw money at an awful organization and attend sporting events to see an awful product on the field/floor/etc.

Now for one of my main points however. As you're an obviously knowledgable sports writer/blogger with an apparently open mind, I feel like it's a sort of challenge to get you more interested in professional soccer. I only started truly following it about 4 or so years ago. But this conversation is a perfect topic to bring it up in. A somewhat popular thing in European soccer(football) is a supporter-ran organization that has variable levels of control depending on where you go. The Sounders were the first pro sports franshice in America to do this. It's called The Alliance. And fans themselves actually have a voice in the direction of the club. This obviously isn't to say there's a fan vote every week for the starting lineup but big picture issues about the state of the organization (GM control/firing, coaches, etc) can be changed. There hasn't been any decisions made by them that drastic yet in the short life of the MLS Sounders. But I love the fact that the avenue is there. It keeps the club accountable and devoted to always putting forward their best product.

Also, here's a little info on The Alliance

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