Last night, the Mrs. and I were quickly changing channels between the American Idol finale and our new favorite hockey team (well “new favorite” is inexact because we didn’t have a favorite before then, we just didn’t watch hockey). Both things – Hockey and American Idol – are new to me making me the quintessential bandwagon fan. Right?
I generally make fun of bandwagon fans — particularly the pink hatted legions that showed up around Fenway starting win that first World Series title (or maybe starting after seeing a Jimmy Fallon-Drew Barrymore movie, whichever). But maybe I am giving them a raw deal. At some point, we all had to be bandwagon fans before we became more dedicated.
Professional sports in this area are still new. My generation is the first that has lived their entire life with the Bucs, and I am only 30. Everyone before us had to stop rooting for someone else to care about the Bucs. That makes them bandwagon. Right?
Same goes for the Lightning. The generation that grew up only knowing the Lightning just turned — wait for it — 18. That means almost every ticket buying fan during this run either used to root for someone else or, just didn’t care about hockey.
The Rays are still on the beginning of that journey and, given the extensive baseball history in this city, might have higher hurdles to overcome to lure fans onto the bandwagon and then convert them. But, take the long view. In 10 or 15 years there will be a generation of dedicated Rays fans that started following the Rays as kids, just like I started following the Bucs (I was Lars Tate for Halloween…seriously).
In the meantime, make room on the bandwagon. I’d rather have Johnny-Come-Lately-s in the ballpark than Yankee fans.