If you asked me in March how the Blackhawks were doing, I would have replied "Good...right? They're usually good... I think."
Ask me how the Blackhawks are doing now, I could give you Corey Crawford's stats, who scored the winning goal and which player has been injured in the last two series.
Yes, I'm the definition of a bandwagon fan.
But I also have absolutely no shame admitting that fact.
Here is why:
First, bandwagon fans aren't necessarily rooting for a team or sport, so much as a city. And ain't nothing wrong with civic pride! You could probably go around to any Clark Street bar during a Blackhawks game and find that 70 percent of the people watching had not watched hockey regularly until the playoffs. But ask them how long they have loved Chicago, you'll find that nearly everyone has been proud of this city since the second they moved here. For some, it isn't so much about whether a sport is played on the ice, on the court or on the field--it's about the area code they play in. And I, for one, will be a life-long Chicago fan. And I will root for whatever team makes sure the rest of the nation knows how awesome we are.
Second, bandwagon fans are a God-send to bars, restaurants and taverns. As a waitress myself, there is nothing like the beautiful sound of a goal horn, the opening bars to "Chelsea Dagger" and the inevitable cry of "Let's buy a round of shots!" from celebrating patrons. This keeps restaurants open, bartenders and waitstaff well-tipped and customers drunk with victory (and Malort). Plus, if the same five fans who watched every game at each bar for the entire season were the only five fans that ever watched the game, that would make for some really boring game days. And a rather sparse victory parade.
Third, we do not care about "bandwagonners" in many other, arguably far more important, venues. Let's take voting, for example. Think back to last November and the amount of support given to anyone who voted, regardless of whether they had been following along with the candidates or issues for five months or five minutes. Are we really going to heckle someone over an uninformed sports decision yet applaud someone who made an uninformed civic decision? I would even take a bandwagon Miami Heat fan (I hear they are the worst type of bandwagon fans) over a political bandwagonner, any day.
Fourth, bandwagon fans lead to "true fans". Listen up, "true fans": unless you came out of the womb wearing a Blackhawks (or whatever team you support) jersey, there was a time where you could have actually been considered *gasp* a bandwagon fan. Everyone has got to start somewhere! Perhaps someone moved to Chicago from a forlorn professional hockey-less state, such as Hawaii or Oklahoma. Do they really deserve to be scorned simply because they are learning to appreciate the winning record of a new team and new sport? Or perhaps someone never understood the fast-paced, fun and intricate nature of a bunch of dudes ice-skating with wooden sticks until they saw Andrew Shaw's shin goal in Game 1 of this series after three OTs. Maybe they will like it so much that next season they'll start watching earlier. Are they allowed to be a "true fan" then?
So I raise a beer to my fellow bandwagon fans and those who shame us when we cheer, though we just tuned in. Regardless of how this series goes, I'll see ya next season (most likely around playoff time).
Alright, let the debate begin. Are you a bandwagon fan? Why did you decide to support a team late in the season? And "true fans" help us out here: what constitutes a "bandwagon fan" to you? Do you like or dislike bandwagon fans? Let us know! Comment below, tweet us at @Chicago_U or comment on our Facebook page. And by the way, Go Hawks! (We can all agree on that... right?)