Kent’s Calls: Bandwagoners miss the point of fandom

What do you do when your team starts losing? Do you remain loyal or do you abandon ship?

Fans across the country have been confronted with this question as football and basketball teams either perform better or worse than they did last year.

In football, the Dallas Cowboys, who finished off last year with a record of 4-12, are currently 13-3, tied for the best record in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers finished off last year with a league best record of 15-1 and are now 6-10 and last in their division.

The Oakland Raiders went 7-9 last year, and are now 11-3, tied for second in the league.

In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors have created what some have called a “super team,” taking the team with best record in NBA history — 73-9 last year — and adding Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the league. They currently have the best record in basketball, 30-5.

In ever-changing leagues full of talent that moves towards the highest bidders, how is a fan supposed to stick with one team? How can someone who loves to watch an entertaining football game stay true if they can’t score more than two touchdowns in a game?

“Bandwagon-ing” is a phenomenon in sports fandom where a fan will start rooting for a team with a winning record solely because it is winning.

I’ve been a lifelong Boston sports fan. Ever since I could remember, I’ve rooted for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox. Some of my earliest memories are watching the Red Sox break the “Curse of the Bambino” and winning the World Series in 2004 for the first time in 86 years.

Being a fan of a specific sports team doesn’t mean loving a player or even enjoying a game. Being a fan means wearing your team’s logo with pride, screaming at the television when they win or lose, and never abandoning them. I root for the New England Patriots. I don’t root for Tom Brady or Bill Belicheck.

I don’t root for their Super Bowl rings. I don’t root for their winning record. I root for the team.

Recently, there has been a rise in fandom for the Cowboys and Raiders in the NFL and the Warriors in the NBA as well as a drop in fandom for the Panthers.

Most people attribute this to fans hopping on or off the bandwagon. This issue hit home for a lot of Shalhevet students a few years ago when the Lakers started losing. They had dominated the league for the previous decade, and when they started losing, the Clippers’ fan base expanded.  A lot of lifelong Lakers fans were outraged when people switched.

Hopping on the bandwagon is the epitome of betrayal for a sports fan. True sports fans stick with their team through thick and thin.

Flipping from team to team, following the superstars and the talent, does not make you a fan of a team. It makes you a fan of watching high-scoring, exciting games where you will end up being happy.

To all the bandwagoners who are rooting on the Cowboys, Raiders or Warriors for the first time: please don’t call yourself a Cowboys, Raiders or Warriors fan. Please call yourself what you are: a fan of sports, of winning and being happy.

And to all those Browns, Jaguars and 76ers fans, thank you for sticking with your team in the face of heartbreak and frustration. You are true fans of your teams and you show all of us what it means to be a sports fan.