Every year two teams fight it out for the championship in every sport, and every year, each of those teams gain about 10,000 fans in the process.
Many of these fans are bandwagon fans who will pledge their undying allegiance to said team while they are holding the Stanley Cup, Lombardi Trophy, etc. and will forget about their existence during the next big losing streak.
As a brand new (this term will be explained later) Blackhawks fan, I am being mixed in with bandwagon fans, as I am sure that many other brand new fans are every year.
But make no mistake, I will be (spoiler alert) attending no victory parade and there will be no excessive status updates on Facebook/Twitter.
There are two ways to avoid becoming a bandwagon fan. You can either go through the probationary period of being a brand new fan, or you can be under 10 years old, as they are still allowed to choose whichever team they want to root for.
I am here to once and all clear the air on what makes a bandwagon fan and what makes you a brand new fan.
The Definition of a "Brand New" Fan
A brand new fan is a person who, for whatever reason outside of the fact that the team was winning, decided to begin watching that team at any point throughout their championship season.
When you become a brand new fan, you are on what can be considered a probationary period for the next three seasons. If you fail to continue watching said team, you are then considered a bandwagon fan and can no longer earn any other name as a fan of said team.
You may root for said team if and when they become a championship team again; however, you must recognize that you are a bandwagon fan, and therefore, shall be treated like one (you get last dibs when the pizza gets there).
There are other rules that you must follow. You cannot set up the trip to the victory parade, and you may only attend said parade if a group of dedicated fans has asked you to come with them. You may not ask them if you can join them, remember, you are not a real fan yet.
You also cannot accept the championship as one of your own. This means no championship gear, no exclaiming "WE WON!" and no team gear of any kind over $25. You are allowed to go to Walmart or Target and buy a team shirt or cap to show your new allegiance, but you are not allowed to go overboard yet.
You are also allowed to have just one favorite player from said team. You may not excessively cheer for any specific player other than your adopted favorite player.
Now that you understand what a brand new fan is, here are some of the signs that you may be becoming a bandwagon fan. Also, as a rule, you must be in violation of two of these rules to be considered a bandwagon fan, although others are allowed to point out and ridicule when you are in violation of just one.
You connect yourself with said team
You are allowed to connect yourself with a team for two reasons: 1) You have completed the brand new fan period and are ready to become a full on fan of the team, or 2) You began following the team in a season when they were not in the playoffs, in which case, you skip the brand new member stage.
If you do not fill either of these requirements, you cannot use the word "we" in connection to the team that you have just begun rooting for.
The excessive Facebook/Twitter updates
Now I was in slight violation of this rule, but I like to think that I am an excessive Facebook status updater anyway and this was just a casualty of that issue.
The excessive status updater, when linked to a bandwagon fan, will reach out to multiple players, connect himself with said team (multiple violations in one action) and put up over three statuses about said team.
To avoid this, you are still allowed to let others know that you enjoy said team, but your status may be nothing more than "Go (insert team here)" or variations thereof. Here are some examples of statuses that are not okay and will earn you the bandwagon title.
"Thinks the Flyers can suck it. ONE MORE, GO HAWKS!!!" Here, the bashing of the other team, excessive capitalization and excessive exclamation points cause a violation.
"Needs to find himself a broom. THE HAWKS ARE HEADED TO THE STANLEY CUP!!!" By saying he needs a broom, he is implying that he had something to do with the Blackhawks sweep. Also, he is again in violation of excessive capitalization and exclamation points.
Multiple brand new jerseys/championship shirts
You are not allowed to buy a jersey of a team until you have made it past the three year probationary period, this goes for championship shirts as well.
If you go out of your way to purchase anything other than the most basic team clothing then you are in violation of this rule.
If you purchase one article of this clothing after a year and a half of cheering for said championship team, you are allowed ridicule, but you are not in full violation of this rule until multiple expensive articles of clothing are purchased.
If you purchase one article of expensive clothing before the year and a half point, you are in violation of this rule and have one strike.
You make a point to attend the victory parade
As we have already established, you are not allowed to attend said team's victory parade unless you are invited by hardcore fans. If you attend said victory parade, you are allowed your piece of cheap clothing that shows you new affiliation and you are not allowed excessive cheering for any player other than your adopted favorite player.
If you wear a jersey, championship shirt, or excessively cheer for others who are not your adopted favorite player, you will be considered in violation of this rule. Also, no signs—those are for hardcore fans.
Acting like you know everything about said team and sport
If you are a bandwagon or a brand new fan, generally, you are also new to the sport as well as the team. Chances are that you aren't an expert on either subject at this point in time.
If you are going to act like you are a master at knowledge of your new team, you will immediately become in violation of this rule. If you are humble as a brand new fan and only use information you know is correct, then you are allowed to use it.
Also, you may never get into an argument about a player with a hardcore fan, as they will most likely beat you in said argument and you will become immediately labelled as a bandwagon fan.
This is the only violation where you can immediately become a bandwagon fan, as acting as though you are a hardcore fan when you are not is really what being a bandwagon fan is all about.
Remember, there are two ways to avoid becoming a bandwagon fan when you begin rooting for a team during a championship season. You can either go through the three year probationary period to prove your loyalty, or you can be under 10 years old.
I'm Joe W.