Bandwagon Fans and their Favorite Players

  • LeBron James
    LeBron James

    Before reading this article you could have guessed the athlete that would have the most bandwagon fans. LeBron James has been a worldwide phenomenon ever since Sports Illustrated gave him a cover in high school and declared him “The King.”

    Here is a little run down of LBJ’s career path to date:

    The Cleveland Cavaliers elect to draft the hometown native with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. LeBron excels in Cleveland but does not win them a championship. Then in the summer of 2010, LeBron becomes a free agent and decides to host an ESPN special called “The Decision” to announce where he will be taking his talents, which I happened to attend in Greenwich, CT. To the surprise of fans around the world, ‘Bron ‘Bron betrays his home state to join his friends in South Beach. Four years and two rings later, Sports Illustrated brings it full circle and broadcasts that LeBron will be leaving the Miami Heat to join his first team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The only problem? All the Cavs fans that burned their LeBron jerseys now have to buy new ones.

    The Cavaliers campaigned heavy for James to come back and join forces with young Kyrie Irving, yet four long years earlier they wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers owner, wrote a letter after The Decision, calling LeBron James a traitor and guaranteeing he wouldn’t win a championship before his Cavs did.

    It only makes sense that LeBron has a lot of fair weather fans, even among the Miami Heat fan base. (*cough cough* Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.) When LBJ announced he was going back to Cleveland, the Heat fan base shrunk exponentially. Even DJ Khaled didn’t want to talk about the Heat anymore.

    How do you go from this to this (Cleveland fan reactions) or this to this (Dan Gilbert)? Easy enough, just hop on that LeBron James express bangwagon straight to Cleveland. I’m getting heated right now writing this article realizing how it’s all gone down with the prodigal son returning home, especially after the way the city felt when he left.

    As LeBron continues to shine in his career, now with Cleveland, I will make sure to get a bigger wagon in order to fit all these “LeBron fans” on.

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  • Kobe Bryant
    Kobe Bryant

    Maybe it is this younger, impatient generation that is creating this bandwagon effect in sports. No matter how bad, old, and out of shape my favorite ballers get, I still love them to this day. Case and point, my email address is still Vince15JMF@yahoo.com and Vince Carter hasn’t been a monster since he left New Jersey. Is he still up there as one of my favorite players of all time? Yes. Is he still an All-Star? No.

    I read an article today that was talking about how Kobe Bryant doesn’t want the “Derek Jeter affect” when he finally slows down, plays 20 minutes a game, and comes off the bench. In the new Sports Illustrated article, Kobe says, “If you booed me for 18, 19 years, boo me for the 20th. That’s the game, man.” AKA if you hated me continue to hate me. This is just one of the many reasons I have to continue to be such a Kobe Bryant fan.

    Ironically enough, I became more of a fan of Kobe after witnessing the path that LeBron James took. You could argue that that makes me part of the Kobe Bryant bandwagon fan club and you know what, I am fine with that.

    I just hope that the new Kobe Bryant fans, the ones that have only watched him after the 3-peat era, do not hop off the bandwagon and forget how great and dominate Kobe Bryant was as a Los Angeles Laker. Unfortunately, my gut is telling me otherwise.

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  • Peyton Manning
    Peyton Manning

    Peyton Manning seems like one of the nicest, endearing, and genuine players in the National Football League so it makes sense that he would have a lot of bangwagon fans. Peyton has played for two teams in his 16-year career, the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. Two very respected football franchises that have seen their share of star quarterbacks. Peyton’s career path in switching teams was an interesting one.

    After Hall of Fame numbers for 14 years in Indianapolis, the team decided to pay for his neck surgery and then cut him. Shortly after, they drafted an almost equally talented quarterback in Andrew Luck. After two strong seasons as the starting quarterback in Indy, it seems like Peyton Manning is a forgotten soul. Almost like his 14 strong years and one Super Bowl ring are neglected. Colts fans hopped off one bandwagon straight onto another.

    Within two seasons in Denver, Peyton Manning has broken the single season touchdown record, won an MVP, and brought his team to a Super Bowl. All of which almost seams gone in the wind as the Broncos got crushed in last year’s big game by Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.

    Winning Super Bowls is the only thing that matters in football, which is why Peyton’s brother has such a loyal fan base in New York. Football fans should take a step back, realize the greatness that Peyton Manning brings to the game and appreciate what he has done for the sport. Remember Colts fans, he did at least win you one Super Bowl.

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  • Tom Brady
    Tom Brady

    I had to include a Patriots player on this list. Going to school at UMass Amherst I was exposed to quite crazy New England Patriots fans. The best thing to ever happen to the Pats is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, no doubt.

    The Patriots can have their three Super Bowl rings and five Super bowl appearances since 2001. They should be happy and feel accomplished. Yet, year after year and playoff loss after playoff loss I hear the same jabber from all these fanatics: “The Patriots defense isn’t very good” or “Tom Brady isn’t clutch anymore.” I haven’t witnessed a fan base in sports sway so much back and forth from loving to being frustrated with their team in one minute.

    I can guarantee you one thing: If Tom Brady has a sub-par 2014-2015 season, these Pats fans will start nagging Mr. Kraft about planning for the future and looking into drafting a quarterback. Patriots fans do not realize how good they have it with their Hall of Fame quarterback behind center.

    Striving for perfection is fine (hello, 18-1), but stop saying how Brady hasn’t won you a Super Bowl in 10 years. Life could be worse. You could be a Jacksonville Jaguars fan.

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  • Floyd Mayweather
    Floyd Mayweather

    Are you part of The Money Team? Of course you are.

    Floyd Mayweather might have the most amount of bangwagon fans of any athlete on the planet and it’s not necessarily because of his athletics, but more so from his boisterous personality.

    Because of his antics as well as his fighting style Floyd also has a lot of haters. You always hear critics saying he fights easy opponents, runs in his fights, and will never be considered one of the all-time greats. Bottom line is the dude always wins. With winning comes success and lots and lots of money.

    Floyd is an interesting choice for this article because his bangwagon consists more of haters rather than fans. I really don’t understand how you can hate on the guy as an athlete. He is 46-0. Zero losses. Zilch. Nada. None. No matter how you want to write it, there is still a zero in his loss column. Personally, I think it’s stupid to join the majority and talk this guy down. He is the greatest fighter on the planet, no questions asked.

    I’m more of a fan of the Floyd Money Mayweather persona than the actual Floyd Mayweather fighter. You could place me on the bandwagon that encompasses Floyd’s personality rather than his ability to fight. I love his style, swag, and arrogance, whatever you want to call it. If you have it, flaunt it. Keep doing you, Floyd, and if you want a red carpet introduction by Drake then you can have it.

    Boxing fans: Start appreciating the guy that has a perfect 46-0 record.

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  • LeBron James
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Peyton Manning
  • Tom Brady
  • Floyd Mayweather

A “bangwagon fan” is a term we hear very often in sports, yet it is something that is pretty difficult to define. It is easy to say that a bandwagon fan is one that only starts to like a team or player when they start winning. Simple enough. I disagree — I think there are many elements to a bangwagon fan. My definition of a bangwagon fan is a person that follows the majority of people and makes decisions based on other reactions and feelings. Take Derek Jeter for example. It feels like the entire 2014 MLB season is dedicated to him, which bothers me even as a Yankees fan. If you didn’t like DJ last year or years prior, don’t pretend to like him this year. Adam Wainwright even admitted to giving Jeter easy pitches to hit during this year’s All-Star Game, which he took back a short time after. Instances similar to this, liking or hating a player because everyone else does, is part of what defines a bangwagon sports fan.

As a UMass Amherst graduate with a degree in sports management, along with being a huge sports fan my entire life, it is funny to see how people watch sports and the reasons they do so. One of the largest sporting events in the world is the Super Bowl. Next February when you are at your annual Super Bowl party take a step back, observe the room, and ask yourself why everyone is watching. Everyone in the room will have their own reason for watching and rooting for a team that they have had zero association with until that day. Whether it’s the jersey colors, mascot or the starting running back went to the same school as you, we as fans will always cheer on someone or something.

Grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride as we’re breaking down Bandwagon Fans and their Favorite Players.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @ImFitterThanYou