Bandwagon hopping just part of being a fan

It happens every year, and in all honesty, this really shouldn’t surprise me anymore or get me all riled up.
But every spring, the seemingly annual renewal of bandwagon hopping as a result of what takes place in the Stanley Cup playoffs is something I’ve never been able to quite wrap my head around.
Those who automatically lend their support to a winner is nothing new in sports.
There’s a reason why the New York Yankees and Manchester United are the two of the biggest brand names, not just in sports, but in the entire world.
Though that doesn’t really explain why the Toronto Maple Leafs are still so beloved, since they haven’t drank from Lord Stanley’s Mug since our nation’s centennial, but I digress.
During the course of the playoffs, one of the things I liked to keep my eye on once the conference finals rolled around was how much of a spike in merchandise or Facebook mentions I noticed for the teams still left in the running (Boston, San Jose, Tampa Bay, and Vancouver).
Not surprisingly, Vancouver easily was the frontrunner, with Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo jerseys, Canuck ball caps, and stickers on the backs of trucks clearly visible around town, and numerous “friends” on my Facebook news feed cheering on “Canada’s Team.”
Also not surprising was the extreme lack of anything San Jose Sharks or Boston Bruins that was visible on both Facebook or here in Fort Frances.
There was, however, one lone Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning shirt that was floating around town during the conference finals, which led me to yell out my patented saying whenever I see someone wearing front-running team gear.
Shockingly, I have yet to be punched in the face for saying that.
Once the final came around, it was safe to say that Vancouver was the mass choice on Facebook, with many people who have yet to make a comment on the playoffs all of a sudden cheering on the Canucks. Then once the seven-game series wrapped up last Wednesday night, all those new Canuck supporters vanished just as rapidly.
The jerseys and hats were nowhere to be found for the most part over the last week while a giant sticker I saw on the back of a truck had been ripped off of the window by the time I made it to my car Thursday morning to go to work.
But just as quickly as the Canucks fans left, as if on cue came the Bruins’ fans.
Barely 12 hours after Zdeno Chara lifted the Stanley Cup, I drove by a man on a bike who was in full on Bruins’ garb, including a Milan Lucic jersey.
Now I’m not going to automatically assume this man is a bandwagoner, as I honked my horn and gave him the thumbs up as I drove by, but I’m already getting ready for a whole slew of Bruins’ fans to show up during the next few months—just like what has happened with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins the past few years.
Maybe I tend to be old-fashioned when it comes to sports support, but I would tend to think that when you pick a team, you stick with them through thick and thin, no matter how bad their luck may seem to be at some point (which is something I admire about those Leafs’ fans I mentioned earlier).
However, I also can admit to being a bandwagon hopper as I supported the Boston Red Sox right around the time I became a baseball fan in the mid-2000s.
But right after their World Series triumph in 2007, I basically decided to renounce my fandom of the Red Sox as many of the players I liked (Coco Crisp, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Timlin, and Manny Ramirez) had left or were on the verge of leaving the team, and the side itself quickly was becoming a northeastern version of the Yankees.
So during the off-season, I became a reverse bandwagon jumper, if you will, as I decided to become a fan of a team that no one in their right mind would support: the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Of course, the Rays decided to drop the Devil from their name soon afterwards, and made an improbable run to the World Series after years of sucking, so I guess I could have been accused of hopping onto another bandwagon.
But if I had thought that the Rays were going to be that good, I would be living on a small island in the South Pacific having made a fortune in sports betting.
So with that in mind, and possibly going against everything I stand for, I’m throwing my support towards the world of reverse bandwagon jumping and being in on the ground floor before a team turns good.
Besides, how else are the Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Panthers going to get new fans?

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