Don’t Fall off the Playoffs Bandwagon

Kelvin Noronha
Thinking Caps
knoronha@ucsd.edu
Kelvin Noronha Thinking Caps [email protected]

 

Kelvin Noronha Thinking Caps knoronha@ucsd.edu
Kelvin Noronha
Thinking Caps
[email protected]

It’s currently playoffs time in ice hockey’s National Hockey League, the game that no one follows, and I’ve come up with a brilliant strategy to ensure that I’m in good spirits at the season’s end. I have what I’ve dubbed my playoff “hedge fund” of the multiple teams I support — it’s only by sheer, unintended coincidence, of course, that they all happen to have incredibly high chances of winning the Stanley Cup. For me, being a sports fan is not really about supporting any specific team; after all, players come and go, and teams are different year to year. It’s more like an investment in my personal happiness, which is why I ruthlessly and unabashedly bandwagon all season long.

As a resident of Southern California, I have experienced bandwagon-ism firsthand. After the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup, people who had previously only known to say “Gretzky” when discussing hockey suddenly became hardcore fans, dotting the SoCal landscape with all manners of black-and-white Snapbacks. And I also realize the pains that come with diehard loyalty to any particular team — the anguish of Broncos fans was clear after the Super Bowl. Worse yet, though, would be devotion to a team that is a perennial underachiever and misses the playoffs every year.

According to writer Eric Simons, sports fandom involves the “biological and psychological roots of a universal obsession.” It involves people in a vicious cycle that toys with their feelings over the course of a few months and, statistically speaking, results in 29 angry people for every happy one. Although it is responsible for occasional tears of joy, it has also been implicated in wild, postgame rage, several shattered televisions and crushed bags of Doritos. I prefer to avoid the emotional rollercoaster by putting my eggs in different baskets, ensuring that I can confidently sport apparel emblazoned with various triumphant playoff insignias.

Bandwagoning, however, comes with many more benefits. On the rare occasion that I can kick back on the couch with a can of Pringles and watch hockey, I always have something to watch when one game ends, as I’m a fan of Anaheim (won the Cup in 2007), Chicago (won in 2010 and 2013) and Pittsburgh (won in 2009).

The only problem arises when angry sports fans wedded to the success of their team start to get critical of my redistribution of cheering. My bandwagoning, and especially my bandwagoning of multiple playoff-bound teams, is, for unknown reasons, scorned by anyone who thinks that I’m not a “true sports fan” or that I don’t deserve to participate in postgame celebrations.

But just because I have a somewhat deeper concern for my own self-interest doesn’t mean that I’m not a good hockey fan. Whenever Anaheim scores, I exult just as much as anyone else. And when they get scored on, I just watch Chicago. Bandwagoning keeps us emotionally stable in the playoffs’ cruel world of missed glory and makes sure that the team pennants on the wall are always relevant.

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