Hadfield: Be sure to be kind to the bandwagon fan

Bruins fans hang on the Bobby Orr statue outside TD Garden after the B's beat the Leafs in Game 7 earlier this month. (Getty Images)
Bruins fans hang on the Bobby Orr statue outside TD Garden after the B’s beat the Leafs in Game 7 earlier this month. (Getty Images)

From what I can tell, as the Bruins prepare to take on the Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals this Saturday, there are three types of fans emerging in our wonderful city:

1. The optimist enters the sports bar, sees Sidney Crosby on the menu, grimaces, and sips from a mug that’s half full, while half-heartedly saying, “We’ve already won a cup this decade and how about Game 7 against the Maple Leafs?! We’ll always have that!”

And hey, they would be right.

2. The pessimist is a wiser, perhaps older, fan. This person knows you only get so many chances with a young nucleus; like Tom Brady once famously said, their favorite championship is the next one. The glass isn’t necessarily half empty, but it certainly could be topped off.

This fan, too, would be right.

3. Finally, there is the third personthe bandwagon fan. They don’t have a cup to drink from; hell, they just discovered the damned bar. To top things off, they bring all their friends, crowd up the joint, and cause the previous two subgroups to have to wait for their drinks.

The final person would, umm, be … present?

Traditionally speaking, the first two contingents can’t stand Bandwagon Fans. They don’t bleed black and gold; red, white and blue; nor do they realize there is a difference between the color green and Celtic Green. They yell the loudest at the happenings of critical games, despite having the smallest to gain or lose from the outcome. Worse, they make the viewing process more excruciating. Bandwagon fans don’t know the rules or minutia of the sport they are watching. They adulate or demean the star player without any cogent understanding of what is actually happening. And forget about comprehending the minor quirks and details of the team’s role players.

There is actual purpose, an ulterior motive, beyond ranting and raving like lunatics as some of us are apt to do, to how Bandwagon Fans operate. They watch sports like they watch the news – to stay informed and carry a conversation at the upcoming cocktail party, or business meeting. Real Fans perceive this as sleazy and superfluous. They argue that fandom and loyalty should be interconnected. But loyalty takes commitment, which is antithetical to the nature of a Bandwagon Fan. Instead, they are like your non-committal college hookup; they come and go as they please. If you’re looking good after a few beers, then, magically, they appear; but if there is something better to do, then, well, you get the picture.

This particular situation goes deeper, of course. There is a general feeling in sports fandom that to appreciate glory, you must first suffer. And remember, before the turn of the century, Boston fans did a great deal of suffering. It wasn’t just the 15 year championship drought; it was the way the respite transpired. To review: Bill Buckner’s error; Len Bias’s tragic cocaine overdose before ever donning Celtic Green, and Reggie Lewis suddenly dying shortly after; The Tuna, Bill Parcells, saving the Patriots, then, almost overnight, fleeing to coach the Jets.

Hopelessness isn’t the word, because there was hope, and, in the long run, that probably made matters worse. Every positive moment was concurrently met with an offsetting loss. I mean, we threw Ray Bourque a parade because he won a Stanley Cup for a different team. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about that 15 year stretch, I don’t know what will.

That changed, rather quickly, after the Tuck Rule, Cowboy Up!, The New Big Three, and Tim Thomas. But still, there is resentment in what has become a divided city in terms of its fanbase. The first two camps feel Bandwagon Fans weren’t there for the low points; yet, whether deserved or not, don’t mind enjoying the convivial atmosphere while the home teams are winning.

But you know what? I’m all for the Bandwagon Fans. To me, the bitterness has never particularly made sense. It’s all so silly though, isn’t it? Like claiming you were a fan of a popular indie rock band before they blindsided mainstream audiences with a hit radio single.

Everything that occurs in between the lines of professional sports is exclusionary. You win, you play on. You lose, you go home. Heck, just to participate, you have to be in the top 99.999 percent of your craft. So none of the people we meet in everyday life will hit the game-winning shot in the NBA Finals, raise the Lombardi Trophy, or kiss Lord Stanley’s cup. That’s a given.

But fandom should be inclusionary, inherently rampant, and encouraged to grow. And whether or not the payoff is temporarily shared among the masses, it will always have greater impact and lasting effect on real fans. In the meantime, forget the petty stuff, high five the Donald Trump sycophant at the bar, and appreciate what’s happening in front of you. Take solace in that because fandom offers such little returns other than those few glimpses at triumph; besides, a 15-year drought could be right around the corner.

Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.