In the 2010 and 2012 Major League Baseball post-seasons, I was all but disgusted at the increasing amount of Buster Posey jerseys I saw after every Giants play-off win. A Giants fan all my life, I joined the rallying call against bandwagoners (complete with passive aggressive Facebook statuses).
Fast forward to these past few months. Football has never been my cup of tea – or ball to throw, as I should say – but I’ve learned to like the game and the 49ers over the years. I dabble in Fantasy Football just because the competition amongst friends is fun, and last year’s Super Bowl was a great (albeit disappointing) game that got the entire Bay Area pumped for what the Niners had in store for this season.
Given my lukewarm appreciation for football, it suddenly struck me on Sunday night that my borrowed jersey, enthusiastic cheers and disappointed groans would have put my loyal Giants fan self to shame.
But after a little more thinking, I realized: who cares about how long you’ve been a fan? Neither the Niners nor the Giants (nor the Warriors or Sharks, for that matter) are giving out any awards for the oldest, most diehard fan. I highly doubt they’re turning anyone – with ticket or merchandise money in hand – away.
Knowing a team’s history and how many wins and turnovers and home runs and three-pointers and tattoos it has might be what diehards consider being a fan. But for me, sports are about the games. Sports are about cheering with your friends, paying attention to the plays and guessing each team’s strategies on what to do next.
Let me be clear – I am definitely not a sports fanatic, and I understand that fan bases grow dramatically during postseason. More importantly, I am not pardoning people who love their team when they get the win but boo and insult them when they’re behind. Those fans are true bandwagoners.
But as for those casual fans who root for the home team, and who are never overly pretentious about their fandom, they deserve to stand up and shout with everyone else when Colin Kaepernick throws two interceptions or when the refs make very, very questionable calls. Heck, they’re even allowed to post a happy Facebook status every now and again.
I would never tell anyone I bleed red and gold, because I don’t (black and orange is more my style). But I think loyal fans of all sports need to calm down a little and relish in the increasing fan base. Just because someone is only getting into a sport now doesn’t mean they can’t ever join the club. Hopefully, many of those fans will return next season and stand, jump and scream by your side.
The Bay Area is constantly commended for having the best fans. We have great energy. Don’t spoil it for the sake of pride by reprimanding someone who just wants to root for your team.