Nothing makes a diehard sports fan more upset than bandwagoners. Not only is it the biggest sin in sports, but I’m pretty sure it’s against one of the Ten Commandments.
Nevertheless, it’s taken students a matter of a few years – and for some just mere months or weeks – to go from not caring about the Nationals to uploading pictures of themselves at games wearing Bryce Harper jerseys and ending Tweets with the hashtag #natitude. Congratulations, bandwagon fans. That makes you more fickle than Mitt Romney.
But no matter how hard one tries, bandwagon fans will always be a fact of life, just like the cockroaches in my old Ivory Tower room. In anticipation of the Nationals’ big game tonight, a fellow die-hard sports fan and I decided to lay out a set of ground rules for bandwagon jumpers.
The only circumstance in which you can claim the Nationals as “your team,” is if you come from a place that has no team of its own. Cities like Portland and Charlotte have no team, and those residents can choose to root for whomever they like. People near a major sports market have to show allegiance to the team that is closest to them. Residents of New Hampshire are obliged to be Red Sox fans, and those from northern New Jersey have to be either Mets or Yankees fans. But then again, why would you ever want to be a Mets fan?
But some might ask, can you adopt the Nationals as your favorite if your hometown team is really bad? In the words of Harper, “That’s a clown question, bro.” I am sorry that you are from Kansas City and that your team hasn’t been relevant since the Cold War. But you still have to root for them, no matter how bad they are.
Also, if the first time you heard about the “that’s a clown question bro” response was when Harry Reid said it at a press conference a few months ago, you can’t be a Nationals fan at all.
Bandwagon fans are permitted to buy Nats paraphernalia, but you must also have gear from your hometown team. It is fine to represent the District, but if you are from San Francisco and have a poster of Stephen Strasburg in your room, you better have one of Tim Lincecum right next to it.
If you are in the Class of 2013 or 2014, you must have attended games before this season to even consider yourself a bandwagon fan.
You can’t just lose your Nationals-fan virginity right as they enter the playoffs and think that is okay. It’s not. Even bandwagon fans have no excuse for not attending games during the last few seasons, when tickets cost $5 dollars, Teddy Roosevelt lost every president’s race and you could drink with your friends without paying attention to the game.
No matter what happens to the Nats during this playoff run, you have to continue to support the team for the next five years. You cannot just jump on and off the bandwagon in a matter of months. There is a minimum time commitment for your allegiance. If you have been wearing a Nationals hat this season, you better be wearing it for the foreseeable future.
Finally, you cannot be a bandwagon Nationals and Redskins fan. That’s simply too much bandwagoning. If you are going to be a disingenuous sports fan, you can only pretend to like one team.
It is great to see the Nationals franchise make the playoffs for the first time since FDR was president. I’m pretty sure he would be disappointed to have discovered that D.C. baseball teams only make the playoffs during difficult economic times. But I have no doubt that he would have been more upset by the amount of fair-weather fans that would clog his streets.
I can’t prevent anyone from being a bandwagon fan. But I can do my best to shame you and make you feel guilty. If you are going to jump onto the Nats bandwagon, at least follow the rules.
Doug Cohen, a senior majoring in political science, is a senior columnist and the former contributing opinions editor.
This article appeared in the October 11, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.