Not all bandwagon sports fans are created equal. How so? Page 2 presents a taxonomy of bandwagoning:
Sports-illiterate pop culture fans who can't distinguish Lamar Odom from Lamar Hunt but know exactly which brand of jeans Eva Longoria was wearing at last night's San Antonio Spurs game. If they root for the Los Angeles Lakers, it's because Jack Nicholson and Wall-E were spotted courtside; if they root for the Tampa Bay Bucs, it's because Nick Lachey wore a retro T-shirt in Us Weekly; if they've ever even thought about the Dallas Cowboys, it's because Jessica Simpson is dating that Tory Roma guy. Aren't pink football jerseys just the cutest things?
Similar to fantasy sports junkies, these fans don't root for laundry -- they root for the name on the back of the jersey, making them loyal and true right up to the next trade and/or free agent ship-jumping. This group includes Kevin Durant stalwarts who can't locate Seattle on a map of Washington state, anyone wearing a Kobe Bryant Minneapolis Lakers throwback, anyone not born or currently residing in Cleveland with a LeBron James alternate in their closet and anyone who has ever even considered purchasing a Michael Jordan Bullets jersey.
Here's everything you need to know about bandwagon riding:
• The eight kinds of bandwagon fans and how to spot them
• Ten tips for bandwagoners
• History's biggest bandwagons
• 12 legendary victories a Cubs bandwagoner must know
• Cubs bandwagon dictionary
• Uni Watch: Cubs edition
Fans who shove their way to the cockpit when a local team is flying high, only to pull the EJECT handle at the first sign of turbulence. Think Atlanta Hawks fans filling Philips Arena's otherwise half-empty lower bowl during this year's NBA playoffs, or Florida Marlins supporters any time the team reaches the World Series. By being true to their hometown clubs, Sunshine Patriots have their hearts in the right place. But you wouldn't count on them to shovel your driveway after a quarter-inch of snow, let alone a blizzard.
Fans who instinctively and unfailingly support plucky underdogs, but only after the game starts. These are the folks who screamed loudest for George Mason in the 2006 NCAA tournament -- and also had the little-team-that-could getting whacked in the first round of their office pool bracket. Patriots! Believe!
Fans who pledged their fealty to an acknowledged, national-level bandwagon squad before they were old enough to know right from wrong -- and never bothered to rethink matters. Examples include impressionable '70s children who still root for the Pittsburgh Steelers, '80s youngsters who love Pacman and the San Francisco 49ers, and millennium kids who back the St. Louis Rams. Apparatchiks are dutiful but misguided, good soldiers fighting bad wars.
Former fans of the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Lions and every other mismanaged, hard-luck outfit that has been so lousy for so long that these one-time die-hards stepped out to buy some milk and/or smokes and never came back, preferring to start over somewhere else. Same as a happy, unsuspecting wife who walks in on her spouse and the babysitter -- plus three of the babysitter's high school cheerleading friends -- Fans Scorned will often seek: (a) a quick 'n' dirty, esteem-boosting rebound relationship with something young and pretty (pulling for Memphis in college hoops); (b) the long-term stability of a rich, established, traditional power (say, North Carolina or Duke). Either way, the only thing bringing them back from bandwagoning's dark side is sustained, likable excellence from their original teams, and/or throwing Matt Millen into a reactor trench.
Sneering, condescending people who detest the Lakers, Cowboys and Blue Devils simply because everyone else likes the Lakers, Cowboys and Blue Devils. Convinced of their inherent superiority and in thrall to their own strident individuality, Bizarro Bandwagoners fail to realize that by standing against bandwagons, they've actually created one -- becoming the very thing they despise.
Shamelessly opportunistic fans who switch teams at the drop of a 2006 Miami Heat NBA Champions hat. In one breath, they claim they're pulling for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and "history"; in the next, they're replaying David Tyree's catch for the 50th time and preordering New York Giants commemorative mini-footballs. Grand Wagoneers are less trustworthy than a borderline schizophrenic: outside their rooting life, they date around like Hollywood starlets, have a new best friend every other week and are masters of the board game Risk. They have always been at war with Eurasia.