What with today being the parade for the Blackhawks, I am hearing lots about “bandwagon fans” on Twitter and Facebook. Some people hate them, so people don’t mind them. But to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what a bandwagon fan is, and no matter how that is defined, I’m not convinced bandwagon fans are all bad.
I have always considered myself a bandwagon fan. My husband has been a Blackhawks fan for his whole life. Goodness how he loves to tell stories about listening to games on the radio when he was a kid! Hockey was something given to him by his father, much like Jim passed it on to his (our) daughter. I was brought up on football, though, and hardly knew Chicago had a hockey team until I met Jim. He tried valiantly to get me to like hockey, but I was having none of it. Anybody who has heard my story of my first hockey game with Jim at Chicago Stadium knows it was one and done in my eyes. But when he talked to me about season tickets so he could take Becky, I hesitated only at the cost. But how could I say no — this was a great way for Jim and Becky to spend time together (I’d say QUALITY time but I’ve heard the St.Louis story enough to know my baby girl has been corrupted :-)) and bond like he and his father did, and it would get him off MY back about going to hockey games! So off they went to games and I started to hear the name Patrick Kane tossed around my house. Yes, Becky started talking about him because she had a crush (Evian bottle as proof of that — some of you know what I mean by that!), but she also started talking about other players, and talking about great passes or good saves and using terms like power play and penalty kill. I couldn’t be happier! Jim and becky had their bonding time and I didn’t have to do anything but nod and smile when Becky talked.
Then came 2010. Clearly, there was considerable buzz about this team, and every now and then when Jim and Becky would head off to the game, I’d flop on the couch and turn it on and watch a little. I had little clue what I was looking at, but I tried. I remember asking Eric Rabbers on Twitter once what TOI stood for (and I was scared as hell to ask because I didn’t want anyone to make fun of me), and I also remember once looking up trapezoid on Google once because I was too embarrassed to ask Jim what that was all about. But as playoffs started in 2010, I developed a little more interest in the game. I actually went to a playoff game or two and even attended one of the finals games. I watched the Hawks win the cup with Jim at a bar in Disney World. I got a Stanley Cup champions t-shirt AND tank top. And then I started going to a few more games and watching more on television when Jim and Becky were at the games and watching away games with Jim at home or at a bar. And then Becky went away to college and here I am now. Fully accepted as a Hawks fan. But I always pegged myself a bandwagon fan since I really did hop on in 2010. So is that a bandwagon fan — someone who hopped on somewhere in 2009 — 2010?
Or is the bandwagon fan someone who hops on and off year to year, depending on how the team is doing? This person only comes to the games for the beer and nachos or because of the free tickets they got from their boss. This person only watches at bars because it’s at a bar. This person is there for the highs and absent for the lows. This fan says the team is awesome one game and they suck another.
So — is a bandwagon fan someone who didn’t pay attention to the Hawks prior to 2010 or someone who jumps on for the success and then jumps off? Once you’re labeled as a bandwagon fan, can you become a real fan or is that moniker a life-long brand? Is the league of bandwagon fans absolutely worthy of disdain or are there some who might be good game watchers (WHISTLE!!!!!) and know how to spell Toews and cheer the anthem instead of record it on their phone?
Regardless of your opinion, I’ve got to believe the bandwagon has some benefits. First, some of them might actually become legit fans, like I did. It took some time and learning (and trust me, I am STILL learning and will ALWAYS be learning), but I am at the point where I was willing to pull rank on my own kid for the seat next to Jim during playoffs and the final (my mantra to her this year became, “Hey, YOU had 2010! This is MY year!”). There have GOT to be others who hopped on in 2010 that have stuck around and become true fans. I can’t be the only one. The bandwagon helps make up the future fan base in some way, I’m sure.
I’m betting that when many of us season ticket holders sell our tickets on the Exchange, those tickets are bought by bandwagon fans. They are the reason why we can sell a game against Detroit for so much profit and why we hear from the people who sit around us the next time we are back that whoever was in our seats kept standing up or didn’t know to wait for the whistle.
The bandwagon fans spend money. Lots of it. They buy tickets for more than face value. They buy beer and nachos and pretzels and ice cream. They buy hats and t-shirts and Tommy Hawk stuffed animals for their kids and those ridiculous goal patrol hats sometimes for their kids, sometimes for themselves (SMH).
The female bandwagon fans are the slutty looking chicks at the game. The high heels, the skin tight jeans or micro mini skirt, the tight, low cut Blackhawks t-shirt with the sparkles on it. Those chicks HAVE to be bandwagon fans — none of my female friends who are STH dress like that. At least at the games. What they do for their men at home might be a different story 🙂 So guys, you gotta admit that’s at least ONE perk of there being bandwagon fans.
So today as I head to the parade, I know that I will be there with oodles of bandwagon fans, and I’m not sure I’m not one of them. We’ve all jumped on a bandwagon at one point in our lives — did you have feathered hair? wear parachute pants? have a Members Only jacket? don a “Frankie say RELAX” shirt? go see Rocky Horror Picture Show only once? buy a song by a one-hit wonder? do the Macarena at a wedding? go see a movie because everyone else told you it was good? watch the video for “Gangnam Style”? Well, welcome to those bandwagons. Hell, many of us have bandwagoning in our future. How many people will be watching when (if?) the Chicago Cubs make it to the World Series? I despise baseball but I will surely be watching THAT World Series so I can say I saw it when (if?) the Cubs finally won. Bandwagon fans are everywhere and involved in everything. Including the Chicago Blackhawks.
Me and Jim in Disney World the day after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. I am wearing the only piece of Blackhawks gear I owned at the time, which is a shirt I asked Jim to get me for Mother’s Day.