Why bandwagoning is acceptable

January 31, 2019 — by Kevin Sze

After caring too much about the 49ers, fan learns that bandwagoning is the best way to watch sports.

As I write this, my favorite NBA team is the Golden State Warriors, my favorite NFL team is the Los Angeles Rams and my favorite MLB team is the Boston Red Sox.

I guess that makes me a “bandwagoner,” somebody who is a fan of the best team in a league for no reason other than they’re good or popular.

Especially in sports, being a bandwagoner draws scorn and mockery, as it is perceived to violate principles of loyalty and character. For many, abandoning a team you supported mere moments before comes across as unfaithful and impulsive.

On the contrary, bandwagoning isn’t the despicable crime many avid sports fans make it out to be.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always the bandwagoner I am today.

In fact as a sixth grader, I was an avid San Francisco 49ers fan. For anybody who remembers the 2011-2013 stretch of 49ers history, you could probably relate when I say that it was three seasons filled with manic highs and depressing lows.

After the NFC Championship Game in 2013 and the NBA Finals in 2015, I realized that being a “loyal” fan just isn’t worth the emotional peaks and valleys of following professional sports. Here’s why.

The 49ers lost the NFC Championship. They had been well in control for three quarters, until former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick lost a fumble and then threw an interception (ironically tipped by now-49er Richard Sherman) that sealed the 49ers losing fate once again (in 2012 the 49ers lost the Superbowl, and in 2011 they lost the NFC Championship).

My dad, who had been a 49ers fan just 30 minutes ago, was now the biggest Seattle Seahawks fan. To my dismay, he cheered how great Russell Wilson was throughout the game, how smart Sherman was and how terrible the 49ers were.  

Being the “loyal” fan that I was, that one loss ruined the rest of my day and most of my week, largely because Sherman ranted about how he was the best cornerback in the league, and the 49ers were headed back home empty handed despite an impressive season.

Fast forward two years, and the Golden State Warriors won an NBA Championship, bringing a basketball title to the Bay for the first time since the Rick Barry-led team in 1975. Throughout the year, I had been rooting for the Warriors to win. Now that they did, I came to a surprising revelation.

I felt empty. The playoff run that I had been so deeply invested in ended as abruptly as an elimination would have, and all the emotions I had felt throughout the season evaporated into thin air. If the Warriors went 0-82 and were declared the worst team in NBA history, it would’ve made no actual difference to my life than having them winning a championship. I didn’t get a share of the players’ earnings, get to hold the Larry O’Brien trophy or get tickets to the next season’s games.

That’s the thing about being a loyal fan. When the 49ers lost, I moped around the house and didn’t want to talk to anybody. When the Warriors won, coach Steve Kerr didn’t come to my door thanking me for being a fan.

For me, following sports is simply entertainment. Blindly investing my emotions into a team that doesn’t even know me just isn’t worth it.  

And that’s why bandwagoning is so great. I might go into a game rooting for the Warriors, then switch to their opponents, then switch back to the Warriors if they end up winning. Either way, I can guarantee the team I’m rooting for always wins, and I leave each game happy because my team won.

I might be rooting for the Rams to put a dent in the Patriots dynasty as I write this article, but don’t be surprised if my allegiances change and I root for Brady to get another ring. Either way, I can’t lose.

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