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Old 07-03-08, 05:07 PM   #1
Rex Fenestrarum
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NFL: Bandwagoning + Fandom Questions

I was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1971, and spent the first 33 years of my life living in that city.

As a kid, I divided my "NFL Love" equally between two teams: the Atlanta Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But then, in the early 80s, the Falcons fired head coach Leeman Bennett, thus earning the unending wrath of my father. Me, being an 11 year-old that thought his father knew everything there was to know about sports, went along with him in dissing the Falcons. Thus, my dad became a generic "NFL fan", while I became a full-time Steeler fan.

According to my father, I started liking the Steelers when I was 4 years old. He said that I liked them because of Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert (as opposed to liking them simply because they were winners at the time). I honestly don't remember one way or another.

Like a lot of people, I get lumped in with the "You only like the [Steelers or Cowboys] because they won a lot when you were a kid in the 70s" crowd. Which I guess is true.... I can't deny it. But I've liked them on a continuous basis since the 70s. I stuck with the Steelers through the lean years of the 80s, and even during the Mike Tomczak and Kordell Stewart eras. So am I still a "bandwagon fan"? What's the "statue of limitations" on bandwagoning?

And what exactly is a "bandwagon fan", anyway?

I've read articles in some sports magazines and websites that say that if you ever liked a team because they were winning you're a bandwagon fan for life, even if you still support them through years of ups and downs. That seems kind of silly. I mean, I thought the main problem with "bandwagon fans" wasn't so much people jumping on the bandwagon so much as people jumping off the bandwagon once the team cooled off.

And what are the rules of NFL Fandom?

I once read on somebody's blog at si.com that if you're born and raised in a city with an NFL team, you must become a fan of that team. So if you're born in Green Bay, you *must* pull for the Packers; pulling for the Bears is about the worst possible sin!

And if you move to another city, you have two options: 1) if that team doesn't have an NFL team, you can pull for your "home team" indefinitely, and 2) if that city has an NFL team, you get a five year "grace period" where you can pull for your "home team", but you eventually have to start pulling for the team in your "adopted city". Really? 'Cos I've lived in Charlotte for 5 years now, and I think I like the Panthers even less than I do now*.

There's also some kind of rule where if you're also a fan of a college team and that team produces a "once in a lifetime" kind of player, you're allowed to pull for whatever team that player ends up on in the NFL. For example, I am a lifelong (suffering) fan of Georgia Tech. Although one could argue whether Calvin Johnson is a "once in a lifetime" player, according to this "rule", I could now pull for the Detroit Lions. Has anyone else heard of this rule?

And apparently it's OK to cheer against your team if a) they're doing so badly that it's possible for them to get the first draft pick next year; or b) the GM or coach of your team is close to getting fired, and some "super coach" has expressed interest in your team. Right or wrong?

It's also apparently OK to drop your team if (and only if) team management treats the fan base so poorly that you can "divorce" the team (see "Charlotte, NC and George Shinn" for example). Anyone ever heard of this?

At the end of the day, this all seems a bit silly. After all, you really can pull for whatever team you like. But it's also true that there are unwritten rules for sports fandom in general (and the NFL in particular) that you seem to be subject to in large groups or sports bars.

So - what are those rules, exactly? Which rules are important and which ones are silly?

I feel like a doofus asking these questions at age 37, but in my adult life I've only ever pulled for the Braves in baseball and the Steelers in football, and no one's ever questioned me about it.

* - Amusingly, I like the Panthers less than I did before I moved here... because Panther fans (and maybe the NFL) have decided that the Panthers-Falcons is the huge [announcer voice] "I-85 Rivalry" [/announcer voice]. Which amuses me as a former Falcons fan... since Falcons vs. Saints was always *the* rivalry in my book... and remains so, according to my old friends in Atlanta. I tell them about the big "I-85 Rivalry", and they're like "WTF?!? I-85 doesn't go to New Orleans!"

Last edited by Rex Fenestrarum; 07-05-08 at 02:29 AM.
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Old 07-03-08, 05:23 PM   #2
Goat3001
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I think you have avoided the bandwagon for two reasons. 1) You started liking them as a kid. No one can blame a 4 year old for liking the best team, that's just the way it is. If you suddenly became a fan of the Steelers in the Roethlisberger era then I could lump you in with bandwagoners.

2) You stuck with them throughout your life even the bad years. You didn't quit when it was tough. You stuck around and still followed them. If you had ditched them for awhile and then went back to them later on you would be a bandwagon fan.
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Old 07-03-08, 06:23 PM   #3
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Yeah, what Goat3001 said. You're a bandwagoner if you hop to a team while they're winning and then bail when they start losing and hop to another team. It's different if you're a kid and attach yourself to a team and just keep watching from there.

I don't think there's a requirement to be a fan of the home team.
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Old 07-03-08, 06:57 PM   #4
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I always looked at fandom as whatever city you grew up in, they're your teams. Now if you move, then you can latch onto the new team, or root for the old one.

I grew up in Philly, and I root for all 4 teams: Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers, and no matter how bad they are, or how stupid they do with their roster moves, I am indebted to these teams for the rest of my life. I could never just say, "OK, I am going to like the Redskins." The best thing about being a hometown fan is when your team is on top, you can enjoy it with the rest of the city, as everyone is always talking about that team making a run for the championship.

I had many friends growing up who liked the Bears, Redskins, Cowboys, Giants, and just never understood why you would root for a team other then the city you grew up in? Now ofcourse if have liked that team your whole life, I wouldn't call you a bandwagoner, but I just don't get liking other cities teams????
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Old 07-04-08, 04:45 AM   #5
sergtv
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I live here in san diego, you would think that the raiders were from san diego.. way to many raider fans, not that many now.. i guess they all fell off the bandwagon.
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Old 07-04-08, 03:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sergtv
I live here in san diego, you would think that the raiders were from san diego.. way to many raider fans, not that many now.. i guess they all fell off the bandwagon.

I grew up and currently live in San Diego county. I"m a lifelong Padre, Charger, Aztec fan as well. Not as many Raider fans as there used to be for sure. I'm sure they'll be back.
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Old 07-04-08, 06:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnabb
I always looked at fandom as whatever city you grew up in, they're your teams. Now if you move, then you can latch onto the new team, or root for the old one.

I grew up in Philly, and I root for all 4 teams: Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers, and no matter how bad they are, or how stupid they do with their roster moves, I am indebted to these teams for the rest of my life. I could never just say, "OK, I am going to like the Redskins." The best thing about being a hometown fan is when your team is on top, you can enjoy it with the rest of the city, as everyone is always talking about that team making a run for the championship.
This is my method as well. I'm from Minneapolis, so I'm a Twins, Vikings, Wild and Timberwolves fan. It's tough to be a Wolves fan right now (trust me), but I'm not jumping ship.
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Old 07-04-08, 06:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum
And if you move to another city, you have two options: 1) if that team doesn't have an NFL team, you can pull for your "home team" indefinitely, and 2) if that city has an NFL team, you get a five year "grace period" where you can pull for your "home team", but you eventually have to start pulling for the team in your "adopted city".
that is the dumbest rule I've ever heard. If I grew up liking the Giants and moved to Washington, Philadelphia or Dallas, ain't no way in hell that I'm rooting for the Cowboys, Eagles, or Redskins after five years.
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Old 07-04-08, 06:29 PM   #9
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Life's too short to root for losers. Bandwagon jumping is the way!
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Old 07-04-08, 07:41 PM   #10
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Yeah, I think most of the time you root for "geographic" reason, who the "hot" team was at the time, or family ties. In Florida when I was younger it was always the Dolphins because the Jaguars weren't around and the Bucs were plain terrible (but I rooted for them just to be different and I thought calling them the fuckin'queers was pretty funny). College football was a little different because there were 3 teams, all with pretty much similar success at the time. I just happened to pick FSU because BB b-day is the same as mine. It doesnt take much for a child to be a fan.
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Old 07-04-08, 10:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum
And apparently it's OK to cheer against your team if a) they're doing so badly that it's possible for them to get the first draft pick next year; or b) the GM or coach of your team is close to getting fired, and some "super coach" has expressed interest in your team. Right or wrong?
Wrong. If you can ever imagine rooting against "your team", then they're not your team. Every loss, no matter how insignificant, should be crushing and debilitating and slowly chip away at what's left of your soul.

das
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Old 07-04-08, 10:30 PM   #12
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Trying to tell someone what teams he must root for seems like telling him what features he must find attractive in a mate. There are no rules.
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Old 07-05-08, 12:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by das Monkey
Wrong. If you can ever imagine rooting against "your team", then they're not your team. Every loss, no matter how insignificant, should be crushing and debilitating and slowly chip away at what's left of your soul.

das
I agree.

For better and for the most part worse, I'm a Magic fan. There's no way I could root against them. Even if the Magic won 70 games and was favored to blow out every playoff team, the underdog in me couldn't get me to root for another team.
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Old 07-05-08, 03:29 AM   #14
Rex Fenestrarum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by das Monkey
Wrong. If you can ever imagine rooting against "your team", then they're not your team. Every loss, no matter how insignificant, should be crushing and debilitating and slowly chip away at what's left of your soul.

das
Well, I agree with you. But this guy doesn't:

"It's OK to root against your team, if they're hopelessly out of the playoff race and you want them to keep losing so A) they'll get a better draft pick, or B) you're hoping the coach and/or GM will get fired. Don't feel bad about it."

Then again, this guy also says that:

"If one of your best friends loves a certain team that has a chance to win a championship, and your team is out of the picture, it's OK to jump on the bandwagon and root for his team to win it all. That's acceptable. Like Temporary Fan status."

I can't imagine pulling for any other NFL team under any circumstances. I mean, sure... I'll cheer for whoever is playing against the Patriots, but I'd hardly consider myself a "temporary fan", even if it was my best friend's team playing against them.
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Old 07-05-08, 08:41 AM   #15
mcnabb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum

"It's OK to root against your team, if they're hopelessly out of the playoff race and you want them to keep losing so A) they'll get a better draft pick, or B) you're hoping the coach and/or GM will get fired. Don't feel bad about it."
I've done this many times, as I call short-term hatred of our team. Now I don't go root for any other team, it is usually at the end of the season, like in 1996, when I wanted the 76ers to get more ping pong balls, and they finished with the worst record, and then won the lottery and got Allen Iverson.

I also did this for the Phillies in 2005 when they were close to making the playoffs and I wanted them to miss the playoffs so Ed Wade would get fired. They lost the last game of the season, Wade got fired and has done Nothing in Houston as the GM, and we got Pat Gillick, the man who built the Blue Jays and the Mariners, and we won the Division last year, and are in first place this year.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by das Monkey
Wrong. If you can ever imagine rooting against "your team", then they're not your team. Every loss, no matter how insignificant, should be crushing and debilitating and slowly chip away at what's left of your soul.

das
I do believe the one exception to that is being a Bears fan....you are given a pass to cheer against the Bears when the third quarterback of the year is given the starting job.
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Old 07-07-08, 11:55 PM   #17
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I would like to quote Bill Simmons here:

Loyalties

18. If you live in a city that has fielded a professional team since your formative years, you have to root for that team. None of this, "The Bengals weren't very good when I was growing up in Cincy, so I became a Cowboys fan" crap.

Also, you can't start rooting for a team, back off when they're in a down cycle, then renew the relationship once the team starts winning again. All those Cowboys fans who jumped off the bandwagon in the late-'80s, jumped back on during the Emmitt/Aikman Era, then jumped back off in the late-'90s ... you know who you are. You shouldn't even be allowed out in public.


You are required to root for the home team under almost all circumstances.
(There's nothing worse than a Bandwagon Jumper. If sports were a prison and sports fans made up all the prisoners, the Bandwagon Jumpers would be like the child molesters -- everyone else would pick on them, take turns beating them up and force them to toss more salads than Emeril Lagrasse.)

19. Once you choose a team, you're stuck with that team for the rest of your life ... unless one of the following conditions applies:


Your team moves to another city. All bets are off when that happens. In fact, if you decided to turn off that sport entirely, nobody would blame you.


You grew up in a city that didn't field a team for a specific sport -- so you picked a random team -- and then either a.) your city landed a team, or b.) you moved to a city that fielded a team for that specific sport. For instance, one of my Connecticut buddies rooted for the Sixers during the Doctor J Era, then happened to be living in Orlando when the Magic came to town. Now he's a Magic fan. That's acceptable.


One of your immediate family members either plays professionally or takes a relevant management/coaching/front office position with a pro team.


You follow your favorite college star (and this has to be a once-in-a-generation favorite college star) to the pros and root for his team du jour ... like if you were a UNC fan for the past 20 years, and you rooted for the Bulls (because of MJ) and then the Raptors (because of Vince). Only works if there isn't a pro team in your area.


The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore -- you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge. Just for the record, I reached this point with the Boston Bruins about six years ago. When it happens, you have two options: You can either renounce that team and pick someone else, or you can pretend they're dead, like you're a grieving widow. That's what I do. I'm an NHL widow. I don't even want to date another team.


If you're between the ages of 20-40, you're a fan of the Yankees, Cowboys, Braves, Raiders, Steelers, Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Canadiens and/or Oilers, and you're not actually from those one of those cities ... well, you better have a reason that goes beyond "When I was picking a favorite team as a kid, they were the best team, so I picked them."


If you live in New York, you can't root for both the Yankees and Mets. Pick a side!
At least give me a reason like "Reggie Jackson was my favorite player growing up," or "I always liked the red Bulls uniforms," or even "Everyone in my gang wore Raiders colors." Do you really want to be known as a bonafide Bandwagon Jumper?

20. If you hail from New York, you can't root for the Yankees and the Mets. You have to choose between them. Repeat: You have to choose between them. Don't give me this "As long as one of them is doing well, at least New York is winning" spiels. What is this, the sports fan's version of bisexuality? How about making a choice? Any New Yorker who said the words "It's the Yankees versus the Mets ... I can't lose!" during the 2000 World Series deserves to be tortured with a cattle prod.

Besides, as we mentioned in the beginning of this column, you shouldn't practice "Sports Bigamy" in general. Sports teams are just like wives ... you can only have one wife, you can only have one sports team, and for the love of God, I will NOT argue about this.
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Old 07-08-08, 06:05 AM   #18
coli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kocheese99


If you're between the ages of 20-40, you're a fan of the Yankees, Cowboys, Braves, Raiders, Steelers, Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Canadiens and/or Oilers, and you're not actually from those one of those cities ... well, you better have a reason that goes beyond "When I was picking a favorite team as a kid, they were the best team, so I picked them."
.
Classic! You forgot about Joe Gibbs Redskins and Bill Walsh's 49ers from the 80's, as those bandwagoners were all popping up when I was in highschool.

I am 35 years old and it is funny how I had friends growing up that were fans of all these teams you mentioned. It's kinda weird how I never knew anyone that was a Buccaneers fan? LA Clippers Fans?
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Old 07-11-08, 02:46 AM   #19
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I think it's natural to take an interest in a team you get exposed to. If you move to a different city, you're going to see/hear a lot about that team, so you take an interest. If certain teams get a lot of TV exposure because they're winning or because they have great broadcast deals, you might take an interest (or the reverse might happen).

Years ago, I didn't care one whit about hockey but I became vaguely interested in the Oilers because they were so good. I wouldn't consider myself a bandwagoner; once they traded Gretzky and became not so good, I didn't care about hockey again.

Similar thing with golf and Tiger. I didn't care till he came along, and now I'm not watching.

But like someone already mentioned about mates, sports attachments are emotional, and you can't always assign logical rules to them.
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Old 07-11-08, 05:40 PM   #20
Trevor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by das Monkey
Wrong. If you can ever imagine rooting against "your team", then they're not your team. Every loss, no matter how insignificant, should be crushing and debilitating and slowly chip away at what's left of your soul.

das
Agreed.

When I was 5 or so, I "picked" the Minnesota Vikings. Not entirely sure of the reasons, but I'm sure it involved watching "the scrambler" running all over the backfield.

I was a football only fan for a few years, but have gradually added more and more sports to my repertoire. Each time, I adopted the corresponding Minnesota franchise, despite having never lived there.

Somehow, my love for Minnesota turned into a sort of obsession. I now follow the Minnesota teams in every sport, even things I have no interest in otherwise. When the weather comes on TV, I look to see what is happening in Minnesota. When watching beauty pageants, I root for Miss Minnesota. I follow Minnesota politics and local news to some extent, and my ears perk up whenever I hear the word "Minnesota".

I'm weird.

So back to the subject, I will always root for Minnesota in every sport, even against my home team, even if every player on the team had personally spit in my face and burned down my house. I can not imagine ever rooting against a Minnesota team.
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Old 07-14-08, 08:18 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum[/quote
And if you move to another city, you have two options: 1) if that team doesn't have an NFL team, you can pull for your "home team" indefinitely, and 2) if that city has an NFL team, you get a five year "grace period" where you can pull for your "home team", but you eventually have to start pulling for the team in your "adopted city".
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyalTea
that is the dumbest rule I've ever heard. If I grew up liking the Giants and moved to Washington, Philadelphia or Dallas, ain't no way in hell that I'm rooting for the Cowboys, Eagles, or Redskins after five years.
There's a clown on sports radio down here that demands that after 5 years all displaced northerners here give up their allegiance to their old teams and root for the local team over their historic alliances. He's an ass in my opinion. You can't "force" people to become fans. Either it happens or it doesn't.
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Old 07-14-08, 08:43 AM   #22
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I think the rule should be that you can not change your favorite team. Ever.

The only possible exceptions involve teams moving and being replaced by "new" teams.

I say you get the choice at the time of the move to either stick with them, or abandon them. Once you make that choice, it's forever, unless a new team comes back to the original location.

Example: I was a Minnesota North Stars fan. When they left for Dallas, I had the option to switch to a new team, so I became a Dallas Stars fan. When Minnesota got a new franchise, the Wild, I switched "back" to them.
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