Come on Board, the Weather’s Great!

Bandwagon fans. Fair weather fans. Dedicated sports fans hate both of them. Is one worse than the other? I’m not sure, I think they fall into the same category where they’re just disliked by other more committed sports fans. In fact, as I was thinking about this post, I realized there’s a blurry line separating these two kinds of fans.

A fair weather fan is a fan who only shows support for a team when that team is performing well.

A bandwagon fan is someone that suddenly starts liking a sports team that those around him/her likes. Typically this is done when a team starts playing well.

So you see, there’s that gray area. People don’t usually bandwagon a bad or mediocre team. It’s always a team that’s winning, thus – fair weather?…  So I’ll ask again, are these two type of fans different? Is one worse than the other?

I think many people have started merging the definitions of fair weather fan and band wagon fan. Separating the two has become difficult because people will often say a fair weather fan ‘jumped on the bandwagon.’ It’s more like they woke up rather than jumped on though. To answer how they’re different and which is worse, I think you have to look at the two as mutually exclusive, like this:

If someone is a fair weather fan, they have a team, they just aren’t always following them closely. If someone is a bandwagon fan, they’re likely to change the team they’re rooting for. For instance, let’s say someone is a Seattle Seahawks fair weather fan. They’re not going to suddenly start liking the Dallas Cowboys if the Seahawks aren’t winning. Seattle is still their team, they just aren’t following them as closely because they’re losing. They’re not going to switch teams. Now let’s say that someone else started liking the Seahawks one year because they were winning, finished 11-5, went to the playoffs and lost the NFC championship game. The next year the Seahawks face a lot of injuries, have a tougher schedule and finish 6-10. That bandwagonner stopped ‘liking’ Seattle in that down year. But not only did he stop following them, he started ‘liking’ the St. Louis Rams because they had a good year.

There are a number of ways the two types of fans are similar though. One of the most obvious is their team gear. Do all the shirts, caps and jackets they own with the team logo on them look new? Then they’re either a fair weather fan or bandwaggoner. In 2010 in San Francisco there was a huge influx of San Francisco Giants fair weather fans. Many knew next to nothing about ‘their team,’ but since the Giants were pulling off a surprising run in the playoffs, ‘fans’ were coming out of the woodwork. And new Giants gear was appearing on these ‘fans’ all over town.

This fair weather fan experience was something new to me and it was what really gave me the idea for this post. I hadn’t seen anything like it. I’m from the midwest. People either like sports or they don’t. Yes, there are fair weather fans (they exist everywhere, every team has some), but not to the degree I was witnessing in San Francisco.

I have a good story about fair weather experiences in 2011, the year following the Giants World Series win.

–The next day I went to another Giants-Indians game (told you I don’t get to see them much…and yes, they lost…again). Justin Masterson was pitching for the Indians. In the first inning I hear the guy behind me say, “Oh, look at their pitcher’s batting average! .000, must be his first game. Welcome to the big leagues, bud!” Now, right next to Masterson’s batting average on the scoreboard was his record. 5-5. Five wins, five losses. He’s obviously pitched in at least ten games this season. It’s called interleague, bro. Our pitchers don’t bat in the American League, bro. Learn the game.

I like telling that story. And to all my Giants fan friends. I’m sorry. You’re not all fairweatherers. Many of you really do know baseball. You just have quite a few fairweatherers out there, more than I’m used to from the midwest. I guess there’s more to do around the Bay area, so people don’t dedicate as much time to sports. And a lot of people moved to this area from other parts of the country or even from outside the country. I have no problem with the fairweatherers, I just wish they didn’t try to act like they’re some kind of sports expert.

Back to my original question of which is worse – fairweatherer or bandwaggoners, I think I’ve answered that now, at least for myself. It’s the fair weather fan.