It happens every single year. Either a handful of sports teams that are typically bad end up playing well or a sports’ season approaches its climax and “fans” come out of the woodwork to be a part of it. We all know these people by a variety of different labels: fair-weather fans, bandwagoners, casual fans … annoying, etc. In the spirit of being somewhat nice let’s stick with “casual fans.”
Casual fans are passionate and interested, purchase merchandise, tickets, and concession food just like the rest of us. They drink lots of beer and enjoy tailgating. They may even be knowledgeable about the sport at-hand. The problem isn’t what they do when they show up it’s when they choose to show up, if they do at all.
“Real” fans always care about the sport or team, or both, and have been around through the good and bad times every team inevitably experiences over the years. They don’t magically appear in October for the NLCS. They don’t spontaneously turnout for the NFC Championship game. They’re always there. They can name the players on the team and in most cases recant important statistics about them.
Ask any of this of a casual fan and more often than not you won’t get a reply. I’ve had this conversation with a lot of people and about a lot of different sub-topics of this overarching concept of fandom and most ask, “what does it hurt?” The answer to that is really simple: absolutely nothing, but for fans of teams that often struggle a little loyalty and stick-to-it-ness would be greatly appreciated. And I know what will be said, “but the casual fan is just as important as the diehard.” My only response to that is: To whom? Fortunately for me, I don’t care about your money so whether you come once a year or not at all isn’t important.
With all of that in mind, we wanted to put together the Top 10 things the faux-fan would do. If any of these apply to you it may be time to reassess your approach because chances are you’re making yourself look like a fool to a great number of people.
1. If you live in a state but pin your fandom to out-of-state franchises, yet have no reasonable reason for why that is.
2. If you wear team gear that is sewn together to pair the jerseys/logos of two different teams.
3. If all your team gear looks brand new or is from some commemorative event (World Series, All-Star Game, Playoffs).
4. If the way you talk about sports changes come playoff time. “The [team name]s are ok. I kind of follow them” to “The [team name] are awesome, I love them, never miss a game!”
5. If you can’t name more than two players on “your” team.
6. If you take time off from work to go to the playoffs but never attend regular season games.
7. If you root for two teams from the same sport that are from the same general area or play in the same division (e.g. You can’t be both a Yankees and Mets fan or a Red Sox and Orioles fan).
8. If you’re “Fantasy Sport Guy.” Playing fantasy sports does not make you a “fan.”
9. If your team isn’t very good, you haven’t been following but still insist on reliving the glory days of your franchise.
10. If you only repeat things you’ve heard or read about your team while participating in conversations about sports.