Valentin, oh Valentin. You’re killing me with all of these awesome quotes. Anything I try googling is inferior by a mile. But here’s one that never fails me (and I suppose it is somewhat sports related):
It’s not always fun to do this, but I’m going to have to pull the ‘I agree’ card. Life is meaningless, apart from the meaning we choose to give it. And sports has a special place in the human psyche that replenishes us with enthusiasm, spirit, and as real of a sense of meaning as we can get in this world. As you said, it feeds the sense of community our socially hungry brains thrive for, while substituting our thirst for winning from bloody violence, to root root rooting for the Blueeee Jays! So now that we’re in agreement, I’m going to narrow the discussion in on some practical aspects of sports fandomship.
What differentiates a ‘bandwagoner’ from a ‘true sports fan’? How do you join the latter club? Can you? Now, in asking this question, there are some underlying truisms that we can have away with that aren’t relevant to the conversation. Everyone agrees that the appeal of the best physical human specimens doing something fairly difficult really, really well is pretty awesome. Everyone can agree that the sights and sounds of a packed stadium with tens of thousands of ravaging fans is awesome. Everyone can agree that drinking and jovially cheering with your buddies is awesome. I’m not talking about why we like sports in general, or why live sporting events are fun. I’m talking about the uneven, almost one-sided marriage of being a sports fan.
In this world, I believe it is best to not to describe or compare fandomship to a hard scale, but rather describe it as weakly categorical. One Joe isn’t X times more of a fan than another Joe, but they could belong to the same group of “bandwagoners” or “true fans”.
So if we are to try and extract the variables of gaining membership to this club, what are they?
Let’s take a look at the two primary ones:
Locality – Did you grow up in the region of your local sports team? Here’s an example of a fan map for MLB. An interesting reaction, which I very much was a part of, was when people found out that LeBron was a Yankees, Cowboys, Canadiens and Bulls fan growing up, even though he’s a Cleveland native. The distaste, other than the general distaste for LeBron James, is indicative of being true to your local sports teams, even if they suck major balls.
Loyalty – At least LeBron is loyal to the teams he bandwagoned early on. That’s crime number 2 that’ll take you out of the ‘true fan’ club.
In the words of one of my favourite sports writers, Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy:
“There’s nothing worse than a Bandwagon Jumper. If sports were a prison and sports fans made up all the prisoners, the Bandwagon Jumpers would be like the child molesters — everyone else would pick on them, take turns beating them up and force them to toss more salads than Emeril Lagasse”.
— Taken from his column in 2002: “Rules of being a true fan”.
What else would you add to the list?