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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sports and Society: Ban bandwagons

I have had it up to here with bandwagon fans. So I’m getting rid of them.

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We need some standardization for sports fans, and I’m declaring bandwagoning illegal. You heard me.

There are all sorts of rules governing player and team movement across professional sports in America. Players sign contracts and can be traded without their consent. Teams can’t just move to Barbados without running things through the proper channels. The NFL even has a borderline-authoritarian policy called the franchise tag, which can just force a superstar player to stay put regardless of their wishes.

So enough of this laissez-faire approach to being a fan. We should be subjected to similar rules and regulations, and I plan to fix this thing once and for all. No more switching allegiances, no more spontaneous fan bases that never existed before. Bandwagoning shall henceforth be subjected to an official process, and I’m here to spell it out.

A “bandwagon” fan is a person who — for some reason or other — decides to root for a team merely because they are playing well at the current moment. It’s by far the lamest thing you can do, and I’m outlawing it once and for all.

There are two types of bandwagon fans: ones who never cared about any team and thus latched onto the best one when they started watching the sport, and ones that actually gave up on their hometown team for greener pastures. Both are lame, but the second one is definitely lamer.

You should have to fill out an application if you want to switch/declare fandom for a team that you are not automatically eligible for. In short, unless you are somehow grandfathered into a team, we’re going to have to talk about this a bit. I’m not saying switching teams should be impossible, but it sure won’t be free.

Here are the rules I came up with for fan eligibility: If you CURRENTLY LIVE in a team’s domain (which includes their city and all reasonably associated places, like parts of Connecticut for New York teams or New Hampshire for Boston), you are always eligible to be a fan of that team. If you were BORN and grew up in a team’s domain (preferably to an age where it was possible to know what a sport even is), you are also eligible. If one or both of your parents is a COMMITTED fan of a team but they/you do not currently live there, you may be a fan of that team.

A possible exception is foreign fans, who do not live in any team’s domain. In this situation, it is impossible to regulate allegiance, though I would recommend fans try to find a connection other than the team just being good. As someone who has tried and failed to adopt a European soccer team, I know the struggle.

I’ll have to take some time to devise the official list of acceptable reasons for a change in allegiance. But under no circumstances can the only reason you are a fan of a team be any version of “they are good,” because that is just not the point of sports. Without struggling together through tough times, what is even the point of being a fan?

As an aside: No, “I like the way they play,” is not a valid reason. That’s just “they are good” with better PR.