It’s difficult to define a sports fan. It might lie in the lengths gone to watch out-of-town games, the amount of tears shed when a favorite team fails to win the championship, yet again.
Diehard fans are an interesting bunch. I, myself, am a hardcore hockey fan and have been through a roller coaster of emotions in the last five or so years, seeing my darling Vancouver Canucks get close to victory, only to come up short. And let me tell you – hockey love hurts.
In any sport, however, there are always those darn bandwagoners.
They’re the ones who swoop in when your team’s doing well, take what’s yours, all while you know that come season’s end, they’ll have long forgotten the team they claimed to love for a brief moment in time.
As the ALCS continues, let’s take a look at the Blue Jays, Canada’s only hope for a World Series title. They’ve ridden a wave of success straight into the post-season. I haven’t been watching closely, but I’ve definitely heard mutterings of success, and I’m not going to lie — it has felt good knowing that the lone Canadian team in a sport known as “America’s pastime” is doing well. And as the Jays have gotten deeper into the postseason, I have become a little more interested. So sue me.
What makes the Blue Jays situation different is that there are no other options for Canadian baseball fans, and so the whole country is really rallying around them in a way you don’t usually see in other sports. In hockey, for example, a Leafs fan is never going to support the Canadiens once the Leafs are inevitably knocked out. Canadian figureheads and celebrities alike are publicizing their support for the Jays, and for Americans whose team is not a part of the final four, the Jays might be the least offensive choice to support.
Being a diehard fan, there’s always that sort of “I was here first” sentiment towards Bandwagoners, those akin to when you introduce a friend to a particular band or TV show and all of the sudden they are a super fan and forget that without you, they would have never known about the artist or show in the first place. Though frustrating, it also means that the band, show or team you love has another supporter, and that can’t be ignored.
Any self-respecting sports team wants a full arena. They all want legions of fans wearing their colors, chanting their name, cheering when they score and cursing to the skies when they don’t. So if people are there to fill seats and get in the spirit of the game, should it matter if it’s their first, second, or 73rd visit to that venue? As the Mets continue their emergence from MLB’s basement, droves of fans have come out of nowhere to don orange and blue. But the Mets have embraced it, thanking their fans countless times and chiefing the 7 Line Army, their most dedicated fans.
Bandwagoners are always going to be there when the going gets good, but what matters most are the diehards who have been there through thick and thin, and who will be there for the face-offs, pitches and kick-offs when the next season starts.
As someone who has been on both sides, I get it. It’ll be amazing if the Blue Jays come back and win the World Series. I might even shed a tear or two; but I know that that victory will mean infinitely more to the diehard fans, just like a Stanley Cup win in Vancouver would mean to me. And that’s perfectly okay.
Bandwagoners come and go, but what’s exciting about them is that every once in awhile, there’s a bandwagoner who sticks around, gets converted and falls in love with the team, the sport and the culture of obsession. Being a diehard fan is no small commitment, so if a bandwagoner is willing to take the plunge, then I say accept them with open arms instead of being offended by their presence.
Because, for the diehards, when your pride and joy finally win that championship it will be even sweeter knowing you were there from the very beginning.
Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected]