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The Other Type Of Fan

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They are out in full force, crawling around your city sporting yellow and purple jerseys, mostly number #8. A while back, they were seen in Michael Jordan's red and black, although, chances are that jersey is retired. Don't be fooled; they appear to be passionate fans, always there for the ticker-tape parade, before fading into the background and awaiting the next opportunity to bask in the next man's glory. We call them “front-runners” or “bandwagon fans.” They are relatively harmless, though their disease, which stems from some innate fear of losing, inhibits their ability to, among other things, truly enjoy sports.

It's true. Front-runners have been around forever, masquerading as Cowboy faithful in the '70's and again in the '90's, when they doubled as the long lost Chicago Bulls fans that nobody knew existed before Mike came around. Still, they are becoming more prevalent than ever in this new, demented society where everybody wins in little league.                                                                                                                                      
The fear of losing now spreads to not knowing how to lose, which may be worse. Without knowing defeat, how can one enjoy winning? Go to Boston, and ask a Red Sox fan that question.

Of America's big three, the NFL has done the best job of combating the situation. Their salary cap keeps a nice competitive balance on the field, so aside from fashion, it is difficult to hand pick your team for the wrong reasons.

Unlike football though, Major League Baseball is in shambles. With no salary cap, the same five or six teams predictably enter the postseason every year, while the rest have no chance and play in front of empty seats night after night. America's Pastime is so lopsided that you can almost forgive the bandwagon jumpers.

Then there's basketball, which has a softer version of the salary cap and a decent balance of power, for the most part, but also aids and abets the problem in a different way. This has always been star-driven league, reaching a crescendo with the Air-Jordan enterprise and since maintaining a steady supply of big names.

The NBA loves selling jerseys and sneakers, so they promote the individual player in order to do so. What this creates is a neighborhood court that looks like an the all-star game. The problem is that rooting for an individual also circumvents the concept of team sports and negates the true thrill of victory.

Dating back to ancient Greece, sports have been an intrical part of our culture. It is human nature to compete, and in varying degrees throughout history, it has been a trait necessary for survival, not only in sports, but in life.

When empires were conquering land, there were no consolation prizes, and there was certainly no “switching sides.” In those days, you staked your claim and defended it to the grave.

In modern times,only the best person for the job is hired, and only the shrewdest of businessmen survive in the market. The loser goes home with no chance to change jerseys. Even those attempting to live a humble, spiritual life strive to accomplish a goal, and be a champion for themselves.

Seeing that this idea is fairly important and supersedes sports, realize that the Yankee/Laker fan, born and raised in Texas, is not just an annoying co-worker who will never know how it really feels to be triumphant. He suffers from a social disorder, which is being nurtured more and more as generations pass.

The only way to stop it is at home. Take charge. Put that jersey on your son (or daughter) early, and catch a ballgame together to watch the team play. Hopefully, they lose.

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About ProfPlume

  • profplume

    To kathy: Yes, however, what are your thoughts on Janie’s advancement of the “problem”?

    Janie (wink): It is so obvious that you are a pro, lol I usually handle comments very easily, however, I’ve been considering your analogy for a day now, looking to tie it all together.
    What began as a sports piece has gotten very interesting. lol It’s not unusual for sports to represent a microcosm of society, but I feel like we are onto something more. As you suggested, I will treat this as a “thesis” (although I only hold a meager Associates degree in the field of psychology. lol

    Give me a little time to have fun with this.

    I always maintain that I answer EVERY comment on my articles. They are usually argued, sometimes substantiated, but I love when they are advanced! Please check in from time to time, and see if anything grabs you. You know, I’m not sure, but I think there are even some other writers on this site. haha


  • Kathy

    definitely agree with you re the other kind of fan. you can’t truly relish in the thrill of victory if you have never experienced the pain of loss. that goes for little league players as well.

  • Janie

    This sounds like the sports equivalent of the “party crasher”. That is, you sort of know the person who is giving the party, but being there sounds like fun, even if you don’t really belong. Maybe it’s the food, or the alcohol or just the false sense of belonging. Sounds like a great thesis topic for a graduate student in psychology or human behavioral sciences! Hmmm.

  • profplume


    That’s a great story, Dr.D. They span the globe. lol

    I have the same type of thing, but insert baseball, Mets and Yankees.

    Thanks for sharing that. I love it

  • I’ve been aware of the ‘fair-weather fan’ phenomenon since a young age.

    When I was a boy, the professional soccer team in the part of London I grew up in – Crystal Palace – was struggling in the Third Division of the Football League. Most of the kids at my school professed to support Liverpool, a team from the other end of the country who at the time were the dominant force in the English game.

    Then something curious happened: Crystal Palace got good, and even won promotion to the elite First Division. Suddenly, everyone was a Palace fan, and their red and blue team colours were everywhere.

    Still wondering what happened to all the Liverpool supporters…

  • profplume

    Hey Joe,

    Fellow Yankee fan here, born and raised in NY. I don’t see where I said they bought their title, at all, do you?

    As a die-hard Yankee/Knick/Jet fan, however, there is no denying that the Yankees are a major target for “front-runners”

    If you’re not one of those, then this article really doesn’t pertain to you.

    Go Yankees!

  • Joe Pantalano

    As a diehard Yankee fan, I get tired of hearing how my team “buys” their well earned place in the playoffs each year.
    I wish there was a cap on salaries so they would be recognized as the great players that they are instead of the highest paid.