Jumping on the Bandwagon: Acceptable for Fans, but Is It OK for Players?

Torey ZiskaCorrespondent IIFebruary 27, 2009

Being an Arizona native, I understand the definition of a bandwagon fan perhaps better than most.

Though Arizona fans are some of the best, it’s a state filled with bandwagoners. In the 2003-2004 NBA season, the Phoenix Suns finished with a record of 29-53, good for fifth-worst record in the league.

In the following season, they ended the season with a record of 62-20, a turnaround of 33 games, good enough for best record in the entire NBA.

That year, their attendance increased by 56,000 fans from the previous year. That was the Suns second largest increase in attendance since the 1991-1992 season.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Cardinals capped off an impressive season by reaching Superbowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a team that had won a total of one playoff game since 1947 when they were in Chicago.

In other words, Arizona Cardinal fans have had almost nothing to cheer about for a very long time. However, loyal fans would stick by their team through thick and thin and there is no doubt that during the Cardinals improbable run to the Super Bowl, thousands of Cardinals ‘fans’ jumped on-board the bandwagon.

The increase in people wearing Cardinals gear and cars sporting Cardinals flags was astronomical.

Now, is there anything truly wrong with being a bandwagon fan? Other than having to listen to the true fans calling you out, one would have to say there isn’t anything wrong with being a bandwagon fan.

Personally, I can’t stand bandwagon fans.

However, there are a couple of scenarios in which I will let it slide. The first, if you’re not a huge sports fan, but a team from your home state is in the championship, and you’d like to see your home teams get some recognition, then go ahead and root for them (but please, don't act like you suddenly know everything about that team and sport).

The second way in which I don’t mind one joining a bandwagon is if you are a big fan of one team, but a team you absolutely hate is in the championship.

Be my guest, root for the team playing the Vikings. Er, I mean, root for whoever is playing the team you despise.

The bandwagon fans that annoy me are the ones that consider themselves a fan of a team, but you rarely ever hear them talk about anything related to that team, until they become great (Ex. Suns in 2004-2005 and the Cardinals this past season).

Anyway, before I begin on a personal vendetta against bandwagon fans nationwide, let me get to the point.

It is accepted that many fans will jump on and off different bandwagons through the years. There seems to be nothing wrong with it, and it can even renew friendships and/or rivalries.

However, there is a type of bandwagoning that many fans, including myself, refuse to accept: player bandwagoning.

I am referring to the recent Boston Celtics signing of Stephon Marbury.

Now, we all know the problems Marbury had with the Knicks and vice-versa. However, it seems wrong that the only team that Marbury seemed to have any intention of playing for was the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics.

I realize the thing all players want, other than money of course, is to win. And Boston arguably gives him the best chance at that. I just hate watching a player act so immature, until he gets exactly what he wants.

Now sure, many will argue that players want to have a chance at winning a title before their career is over. I understand that completely.

That’s why I have no problem with the likes of Karl Malone and Gary Payton joining LA to try to win a title at the end of their careers.

First off, they were joining a team that was a very solid contender, but that hadn’t won a title the previous season. Secondly, they both had Hall-of-Fame careers and the only thing missing was a ring.

In the case of Marbury, he is joining a team everyone knows is dominant, which won a title the previous season.

He also has not had the type of career of a Malone or Payton, and shouldn’t be able to join a team like Boston, which can (and did) win a championship without him, over halfway through a season to compete for a championship.

If he joined a team like the Hornets, Nuggets, or Magic, teams that are on the cusp but just can't quite get over the hump, then great. I wish him all the best in trying to get that ring.

So I leave it up to you to decide. We deal with fans being bandwagoners, but should we do the same for players (of any sport)?