In Defense of Fair Weather Fans

    Around 75 percent of these Giants-obsessed Facebook friends are what we call “bandwagoners” — eager, vocal fans who start paying attention to their team of choice only when that team advances into post-season play. These are the folks who scoop up the last of the jerseys from the official team store, buy tickets to games from scalpers in stadium parking lots and think that RBI stands for “Really Big Improvement”.

    The other 25 percent are veteran fans grumbling about the bandwagoners. Although I understand the resentment from people who have stood by their team through thick and thin, I don’t think bandwagoning is as big an issue as die-hard devotees would want you to believe. In fact, I’m a bandwagoner myself. And I think that those enthusiastic fans jumping into the Giants parade are helpful to both the team and other fans alike.

    For one, there’s all the money that the bandwagoners are pulling in.

    “The Giants’ first World Series title in San Francisco led to record revenue ($230 million) as more than 3 million fans turned out at AT&T Park and the team sold more than $600,000 worth of merchandise at its store in just the first 36 hours after winning the National League pennant,” according to Forbes.com.

    In other words, people who hadn’t previously attended Giants games or owned Giants merchandise — bandwagoners — turned out in huge numbers, flooding the Giants’ bank account with dinero. Despite the moans of those old-timers who’ve been holding onto the same baseball cap since the team first came to San Francisco, it’s the dollars and interest of the newbies that are helping the team break revenue records.

    It’s also hard to ignore the sense of solidarity that comes with the team popularity that bandwagoning brings about. A few days ago, I was outside Warren Lecture Hall waiting for class, persistently early due to my crippling paranoia about being even a minute late to anything. Too lazy to tackle the tangle of curls my hair had spitefully twisted into the night before, I pulled my Giants cap down over my ears in a vain attempt to hide the frizzy mass on top of my head. I struck up a conversation about memories of AT&T Park with a couple of girls from the Bay — Marin, to be exact.

    For those not in the know about the mosaic of Bay Area stereotypes, people from different areas of the Bay don’t often associate with each other. While living in Fremont, I never expected to befriend people from supposedly snobby Marin; I’m sure that they never expected to chat comfortably with someone from chronically nerdy Fremont. But with the Giants’ recent success, we all have something in common to bond over. Bandwagoning has turned the Bay Area into a cohesive body, even including fans of the Oakland A’s, whose run down the stretch was a pleasant surprise to many. The tangible unity among Bay Area residents has vastly improved my enjoyment of Giants baseball.

    The Chicago Cubs will always have my heart. Next year will be their year (the motto of every war-worn Cubs fan since 1908). But in the meantime, I don’t see the problem with donning a Giants cap and cheering them on to victory. I guess I’m a bandwagoner, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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