Baltimore Orioles: The issue of bandwagon fans
The Baltimore Orioles have very few bandwagon fans. That’s consistent with a rebuilding team, however it’s always been the case for the most part. The Orioles have always kind of belonged to it’s core group of fans – in essence, Baltimoreans.
Down the pike in DC, Rob Woodfork of radio station WTOP yesterday published this article regarding bandwagon fans. In essence, in his view it’s acceptable to be a bandwagoner in his view. Part of his point is that perhaps the idea that hometown fans don’t necessarily root for the home team would force the home teams to be better.
That’s all well and good if we’re talking about Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, or Bud vs. Miller. Those are product wars in essence. One of the worst things that’s very happened to the sports industry is the fact that the term “on-field/court/ice product” has come about. Sports isn’t a product. It’s a game.
No, it’s not necessarily a given that hometown kids will grow up rooting for the hometown team. But regardless of where you grew up, if you picked one team from childhood and stuck with them, I see no issue with that. You’ve bled with them in bad years, and shined in good – just as Orioles fans are doing right now.
But if you grew up a fan of one team, I suppose what I’m saying is that you should stick with that team. Granted, some teams make it easier to do that than do others. But…are you that in need of gratification that you’d dump all of your memories of rooting for that team as a child and so forth, only to root for another team? Another team who conveniently potentially has a better shot at winning right here and right now?
To me it’s all just a part of the instant gratification culture that seemingly exists more and more. If the Orioles don’t satisfy me, why shouldn’t I drop them and root for the BoSox? End of the day, nothing’s stopping someone from doing that, for the record. It isn’t against the law. But it does say something about what’s important to you. It says that you’re fickle. If you’re okay with that, go for it.
Having said that, I’ll make an exception if perhaps another team moves or a league expands to a location closer to where you live. Many DC-area fans grew up rooting for the Orioles. Now many of them have also stuck with the Orioles, valuing the tradition in which they grew up and the memories of growing up supporting the Birds more than rooting for a new team that’s potentially closer to their home. However many fans also switched allegiances to the Washington Nationals. And in that instance I can understand it.
I suppose my point is that sports are an emotional attachment. Not necessarily a rational one. You can’t just replace your memories of rooting for that one team with memories of rooting for a new one. That’s just not how it works. Yes, I would hope that most kids growing up in Baltimore would root for the team that has BALTIMORE across it’s chest by default. But either way, don’t switch teams in mid-stream. It’s unbecoming of the sports industry.