Hop on the bandwagon: Sports fans deserve fan freedom
For the most part, watching professional sports and talented athletes is an excellent source of entertainment. However, it’s not always fun if your team doesn’t win. We cheer for teams precisely because we hope they’ll win. Ultimately, though, we set ourselves up to be hurt, as most seasons end in disappointment. Most teams suffer through down years, only to get to the playoffs—or, even worse, the finals—and lose. Just ask Golden State Warriors fans about how it feels to blow a 3-1 NBA Finals lead. As a fan, there’s one easy alternative to heartbreak—bandwagoning. This way, you can cheer for whoever you want, whenever you want.
There’s nothing like watching a game with no emotional involvement. Although you’re likely to pick a side during the game, ups and downs don’t take the same toll they would on an invested supporter. Consider Game 5 of the 2017 MLB World Series, a closely contested back-and-forth championship bout, ending in a 13-12 extra-inning Houston Astros victory. Unaligned baseball fans didn’t want the craziness to stop. Astros and Dodgers fans, however, couldn’t wait for the end—but only if their team came out on top. When it comes to raising the trophy at the end of the season, most teams go home disappointed. It’s far more likely that your team will be in that camp.
One solution is to pick a set of favourite players. It starts when you become a sports fan. There’s a quality you like in certain players, usually the one that reminds you of yourself. Then, you get attached to these players. It’s actually quite OK to follow them, even if they wear different uniforms.
The word bandwagon shouldn’t have such a negative connotation. Cleveland Browns fans will tell you that their day will come—and that they could never respect someone who walked away when the team hit rock bottom. But, as a sports fan, it’s so much easier to enjoy yourself when you’re winning. There’s more fun to be had in joining the winning side. The highs and lows may not be what you get from commitment to a single franchise, but the consistency far outreaches anything fan monogamy gets you. Winning is just much more fun than losing.
Fans should stick with their teams through thick and thin
It feels great to support a successful team, but there’s much more to being a fan than winning. Hopping on the bandwagon is exciting and easy, but it denies the development of a personal connection with a team.
Sticking to one team lets you get to know the players, coaches, and staff more intimately. It is uniquely gratifying to watch the career of an athlete develop, especially if they stay with one team for a long time.
Everyone knows who the superstars are, but some of the less talented professional athletes can be characters, and it can be just as entertaining—if not more—to cheer for them throughout the season. Some teams even have zany traditions, such as the fans of a Nashville Predators who throw catfish on the ice.
Imagine being a fan of a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, and watching them draft the likes of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. If they ever do win it all, the satisfaction will be unparalleled for fans who stuck with the Leafs for the long haul. The years of suffering aren’t always in vain.
Being a loyal fan is a lot like being in a relationship with a person. There are ups and downs, and over time you make memories. At times, it is incredibly frustrating, but when your team finally does succeed, it’s much more rewarding. Take the Chicago Cubs recent World Series victory in 2016 to end a 108-year championship drought. The emotional journey had immeasurable significance for those fans who had stuck with them through thick and thin.
If your team is in a rut, there’s always hope for the future. Every season is a new beginning—and a chance to move beyond the mistakes of the previous one. Being loyal brings more depth and emotion for sports fans to enjoy.
Sports aren’t always about winning—in the end, it’s much more fulfilling to forge a personal connection with a team.