The Bandwagon. Kings! Awesome! Jonathan Quick! Anze Kopitar! Who’s their coach, Darryl Sutter? From a famous family? Do they make wine? Whatevs, he’s a genius! They’re going to crush the Devils tonight and go up 3-0…bring your brooms out on Wednesday, yo!
To call Angelenos “fair weather fans” doesn’t quite fit…the weather is so great out here, all the time, to simply like a team when the weather is only “fair,” well, what is that, like mid-sixties and partly sunny? Meh. The denizens of La La Land are much more at home with the term Bandwagon Hopper…indeed, that’s what the entertainment industry is all about. And politics, where the phrase was coined by a clown(appropriate on so many levels). The Lakers and Clippers crashed and burned, and as much as the Dodgers rode a hot start with a boost from Magic and Kemp, they’re being inevitably pulled back to the pack.
Meanwhile, the Kings barely got into the playoffs, but then beat the top three seeds–convincingly–going undefeated in ten road games. Improbable, but not unthinkable in the sense that gelling at the right time with a hot goalie can propel anyone to the Cup, but for the longtime fans–and there are more than you think–the unthinkable is that they’ve looked like such winners, like they were the top seed and are just acting accordingly. That’s something longtime Kings fans just aren’t used to, and what’s more, now they’re suddenly sharing their team with the whole city. Suddenly, there are Kings jerseys everywhere, on school kids, hot women. Local rock stations are playing a four year old pop-punk song called This is LA, which has become adopted as the new Kings anthem, because Randy Newman’s I Love LA is so Lakers (if I can rant, This is LA may be kind of catchy, but it’s a terrible song with some truly inane lyrics that seem manufactured for this very purpose…but hey, the NHL seems to have an affection for crappy bands, as I’m watching NHL Network while writing this and just endured my eighteenth Nickleback commercial). It’s the Groupthink, a false Zeitgeist. You can be outside and hear the neighborhood spontaneously cheering another overtime goal.
The appeal of jumping on a bandwagon is of course feeling included, but better yet, hating the bandwagon fan puts you in an exclusive group. For the die hard fans, who’ve suffered and endured ignominiously failed seasons on end, these johnny-come-latelys dare think they can share in the spoils? Genuine fandom involves memories made with friends, sometimes it’s 80,000 friends in the same building, sometimes it’s the buddies on your couch who decide to drive for hours to a distant stadium and hope for decent scalper tix. It’s throwing out a reference to a player with a good mustache in the 1980s, and getting a laugh by the one other person who gets it.
But don’t all fans start off as bandwagon fans? Aren’t all kid fans bandwagon fans by definition? At what point does the Bandwagon Fan graduate to true fandom? In Los Angeles, many of today’s longtime fans started off a generation ago with the Gretzky arrival and the 1993 Finals…bandwagon hoppers for sure. However, they were baptized in the best/worst possible way, through “McSorely’s Stick.” When you live through a disaster that has it’s own name (like “Buckner” or “The Drive” or “Steve Bartman”), and come back for more, you’ve earned your stripes.
So accept the Bandwagon Fan, think of them as supporting you, the real fan, as much as your team when they wear their brand new replica jersey. They may not know more than three names on the team, or what icing is, but you’d always rather them happily celebrate a championship and then forget it than prove themselves through a grievously painful gaffe. Besides, everyone can jump on the bandwagon of this:
Become a die-hard fan of Grote2DMax tomorrow.