For every true sports fan who lives and dies with each thrilling and gut-wrenching game his team endures throughout the season, there is a bandwagon fan who basks in the glory of a team’s victory, but only after that team has hoisted the trophy over their head. For those unfamiliar with the idea of bandwagon fans, they are simply individuals who lend their support to a team, only after that team has had proven success.

The most common cases of this occur when someone decides to follow a new sport, and therefore, must choose a team to support. Well, why should they show any loyalty to a local team or a struggling team, when they can throw themselves onto the bandwagon of a proven winner? People like to be associated with winners or success stories; it makes them feel better about themselves. But, that doesn’t make the process of jumping on the bandwagon any more acceptable.

Everyone who is a true sports fan knows that being a fan is a way of life. For example, if I know that my buddy’s favorite team is playing an important game Monday afternoon, and I’m planning on seeing him later that night, I should be able to tell whether his team won or lost within the first minute of talking to him. His attitude and the way he carries himself should tip me off as to what the final score probably was. When you’re a true fan, the emotional swings that go along with your team’s highs and lows carry over into your daily activities. The opposite is true with bandwagon fans: they don’t experience the lows because they realize that they could just jump ship at any time if their current team isn’t on top anymore. Since bandwagon fans can be hazardous to your sports viewing experience, it is my duty to inform you of how to spot and avoid these individuals at all costs.

Bandwagon fans can most easily be spotted by the jerseys they wear. Anytime someone is sporting the jersey of the current champion, and said jersey is that of the recent MVP of the championship series, it’s blatantly obvious that a perpetrator is at large. If the jersey, or in some cases matching hat, looks brand new, this is only further supporting evidence of their status as a fair-weather fan.

True sports fans don’t need to buy an overpriced program because they already know, virtually up to the minute, everything that’s going on with their team. The bandwagon fan uses the program as a tool to mask his or her inferior knowledge of their team’s happenings. The exception to this is if a father or mother buys a program for their child. This is not only an anti-bandwagoning movement; it is simply part of the preparation process for their child to one day, in the near future, become a tried and true sports fan.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to flush out of my memory the image of the sea of Red Sox hats and jerseys that popped up after their World Series victory. Then, there’s also the fact that my family and I would regularly attend Angels games on vacation because we enjoyed being able to watch a game in a nice park without the noisy crowds, since the ballpark was nearly always empty. Well, all it took was one World Series win, and suddenly, knowing a scalper was your only chance of getting into the park on game day, as the bandwagon fans took over the stadium in droves.

No one is saying that you have to memorize the starting lineup of your squad from the 1950 season, but there’s a certain baseline of minimum knowledge that must be exceeded by all true fans. The bandwagon fan doesn’t know of, or care about, meeting this minimum requirement. In fact, a bandwagoner’s knowledge about his newly acquired favorite team usually dates back to the day before the last championship parade.

For all of the criticisms that bandwagoners receive, I feel that it is only fair to recognize the tremendous amount of courage they possess. After all, these courageous individuals risk life, limb and any semblance of team loyalty when they leap from one bandwagon to the next.