We all know them. Some of their missions are to get automatic satisfaction. Others are for a good cause. You may even be one yourself.
Yes, we are talking about bandwagon fans.
Bandwagon fans are headaches, fair weather fans, sometimes even calling themselves one for a good reason. These next 15 teams of 2011 have seen their share of bandwagon fans, but before we start, let's lay down some parameters to give ourselves a definition of what a bandwagon fan really is.
A bandwagon fan is someone who...
-Starts following a team, claiming them as "their team" in the beginning of or amidst a playoff run.
-One day decides to be a fan of theirs because of a monster deal they made, guaranteeing them success.
-Pulls for a team because they feel sorry for them or wants them to win for a good story.
-Picks a team to root for randomly while having no geographical background or reason to root for the team (ex. living in Chicago and rooting for the Diamondbacks, even though you have never lived there nor know anyone in the organization and/or state).
I hope we see eye to eye on our definitions of bandwagon fans, because you are about to see the list of the biggest bandwagon teams of 2011. Enjoy.
This may not seem like a lot of sense in late August—and a whopping 18 games behind first place—but rewind to the all star break and you will understand.
For the last 20 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have been the little league right fielder of the MLB. Everyone wants them to do great, but deep down you know they will just be an embarrassment.
Until this year, so everyone thought. Baseball fans everywhere started to find out that maybe the Pirates really did have a shot at this one. When fans looked at the newspaper and saw that Pittsburgh was only one game back heading into All-Star weekend, you could just feel the hope spread to PNC Park. Who knows, maybe they could do it.
Well, "maybe" unfortunately turned in to "what on earth happened," as the Pirates are once again not only irrelevant to the playoff chase, but also staring at another losing season.
Hey, at least they captured the heart of American baseball fans for half the year, right?
After the 2010 World Cup, fans in America were experiencing a major case of soccer fever. Once the World Cup was over, some people weren't ready to say goodbye to soccer for the next four years, like usual. Fans searched far and near for a team they could start rooting for and very shortly realized that the MLS doesn't have the greatest pool of talent in the world. It's across the pond, over in Europe.
Enter Manchester United, the team with stars like Wayne Rooney, Chicharito and Nani. The team that is worth the most money in the entire world. The team that has had perennial success. The team that soccer fans around the globe can easily attach themselves to.
Nearly promising success year in and year out in the EPL, being a top threat to win in the Champions League and having a star studded roster is why Manchester United has one of the biggest bandwagon fellowships of 2011.
In America, hockey isn't the biggest sport, but when it comes down to preventing another country from grabbing superiority, the sport gets its recognition.
The Stanley Cup became a mini-Olympic event when it came down to the last two teams, the American Boston Bruins and the Canadian the Vancouver Canucks. What made this storyline more exciting was the fact that Vancouver was trying to bring the cup back to Canada for the first time since Brian Mulroney was prime minister. Yep, that long.
Lord Stanley's Cup started to pack his bags for a trip back to the gold medal nation after a 3-2 Vancouver series lead, but Tim Thomas and American hockey fans had other ideas. Thomas stoned Vancouver by only letting in two goals in the last two games. That was enough to keep the Cup in the states.
American hockey fans everywhere rejoiced in the fact that the Stanley Cup is nearly a permanent resident of the USA, making them America's bandwagon hockey team of 2011.
Early in 2011, the three coolest things for people to do was watch Jersey Shore, hate on Justin Beiber and forgive Michael Vick for killing dogs.
Last season the Eagles were a great team, partly because of fantasy football MVP Michael Vick. Everyone and their brother made sure to let people know on Facebook, Twitter and blogs that Vick is a changed man and people should stop hating.
Not only did the Eagles fan base grow solely because of Vick, but they were arguably the most exciting team to watch last year. Vick was as electrifying as ever. The duel threat of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin was thrilling to watch, and LeSean McCoy was explosive. It was an offensive machine that drew so many football fanatics to the television every Sunday.
According to analysts and experts, you weren't suppose to know this team ever existed. Going 12-6 and finishing fourth place in the Colonial Athletic Association is far less than it takes to get in to the NCAA Tournament, but against all odds VCU found themselves playing in the First Four round.
Then the round of 64.
Then the Sweet 16.
Then the Elite Eight.
And what the @$%#, VCU is in the Final Four?!?
The odd thing was, VCU played like anything but a Cinderella team, winning four of their first five tourney games by more than 10 points. And these guys finished where in the CAA?
Everyone loves an underdog story and the physical team from Virginia Commenwealth, led by young gun Shaka Smart (bonus points added for the awesome name), gave themselves a huge number of fans...who didn't even know who they were prior to the 2010-11 season.
Again, when World Cup fever is still in your blood, you have to go looking for more soccer to watch. On this journey to find a new team to cling on to, you have to make sure you're not going to support the Buffalo Bills of Europe. You need to make sure you follow one of the best teams in the world, like FC Barcelona.
Having a good number of people on their roster from Spain's World Cup team plus Lionel Messi, the best player in the world (yes, I went there), guarantees not only a fun team to watch, but a team that will give you results. Many fans all over the world caught on to this and watched them dominate La Liga, and win the Champions League in a 3-1 game over Man U.
Americans and fair weather fans across the globe have found Barca as their team to support. That is thanks to jaw-dropping play, incredible success and one heck of an international identity.
So Oregon bandwagon fans, what is it that you like? The sick jerseys, the prolific offense or big name players? Whatever the answer is, all three of those options are reasons why Oregon is one of the biggest bandwagon teams in college sports.
In the weeks building up to the BCS National Championship, Oregon's fan base multiplied, because: 1) fans were tired of seeing an SEC squad raise the glass ball, and 2) some people were skeptical of Auburn, once the whole "pay for play" question was in the air.
Even without the title game they were still a team everyone wanted to tune in and see. Averaging a ridiculously high 47 points per game, the average football fan was seen watching and pulling for Oregon every Saturday so they could see them in Glendale later that season.
Despite the fact they've only had one game in 2011, they are considered one of the biggest bandwagon teams in the nation with a sick offense and incentive to beat their opponent. All of that and they look great doing it in their Nike unis.
The Cinderella of 2010 was back for more as they sneaked by Pitt, Wisconsin and then Florida to make it to the Final Four.
Now lets rewind back to 2010. Gordon Hayward and the Bulldogs nearly beat the big bad Duke Blue Devils when they made their first historic run at the title. Bandwagon fans hopped off, thinking that another magical run wouldn't be possible in 201. But boy were they in for a surprise.
Butler, as we all know, made it to the National Championship again. This time, fair weather fans really wanted to see the Bulldogs do what they couldn't last year. For some it would be sad, to see an underdog team come so close yet fall both times.
A nation-wide fan base rooted hard for Butler to pull through, but a title game that lacked offense left many people jumping off the bandwagon in hopes to get on next year.
Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux was pretty cool back in the 90s, right?
Not that cool compared to the red hot pitching rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
The Phils are flirting with grabbing the best record in the history of baseball, and boy are they ever opening up the bandwagon. Last year the Phillies had three of the top five jersey sellers on their team—Halladay (No. 3), Chase Utley (No. 4) and Cliff Lee (No. 5).
There is no doubt that the Phillies have a great shot of bringing the pennant back to the City of Brotherly Love, but its not just Philadelphia that will be rejoicing in a win. Any fan that jumped aboard the Phillies fan base after their four-headed monster of pitching was built will be relishing a World Series victory...while wearing their brand new t-shirt or jersey.
On July 8th LeBron James and his huge fan base took his talents to South Beach in the most ridiculous hour of television in sports history. Miami got ready for a lot of unnecessary coverage and phony Heat fans with hopes of saying that their team won an NBA title.
Throughout the whole season it seemed to be Heat fans vs. the world, but at least they had a huge army of band wagoners with them. Even though the "Heattles" didn't take the whole enchilada home their first year, they showed a lot of promise for the future to their new fans.
LeBron left a lot of haters in Cleveland, but he took a good number of fans and people that wanted an easy championship t-shirt with him.
And Heat fans, feel free to blame the guy who made this sign for jinxing your chances.
Like we said earlier, this years Stanley Cup Finals came down to bloodshed between two countries. What made Canadians want the Cup more was their love for hockey and the fact that they last saw Stanley in 1993. So Vancouver wasn't just playing for their city or their province, they were playing while carrying the weight of the nation on their back.
Canada had fun winning a gold medal in 2010, but the country wanted to see the Cup again and they were rooting hard for Vancouver to bring it home. Losing their 3-2 lead and watching the cup slip out of their hands was nothing short of a disappointment, but no one took it as hard as the home city.
If you weren't American, the odds are you wanted Japan to take home the Women's World Cup.
Going up against the world's best, Japan needed to play great and get lucky to beat the USA. Japan also had the support of everyone around the world, as they were playing in the midst of a period caked in earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear disasters. With 20,000 people either dead or missing at kickoff, Japan could use anything just to get their minds off of the turmoil.
Penalty kicks were the deciding factor in a game that Japan played in hard till the end, giving them the opportunity to raise the trophy and spirits of the millions of citizens back home.
After every game the champions held up a banner that read "To our friends and fans around the world, thank you for your support." They were thanking many fans who were rooting for them for the right reason, and we thank them for a wonderful storybook ending.
This is best described as the story that swept the nation and broke all of our hearts. It was a storybook ending that quickly turned in to a nightmare in Fennville, Michigan, and it is a story that will be remembered for a very long time.
After star player Wes Leonard buried the game winning shot against Bridgman, the junior suddenly collapsed on the court in front of fans and friends. After efforts of trying to revive him on the court he was pronounced dead, due to a cardiac arrest caused by his enlarged heart. The nation immediately learned about the tragedy and outlets around the country followed the team in to playoffs.
Leonard was the star of Fennvilles undefeated team that was approaching playoffs, and everyone that read the story wanted nothing more than to see the Blackhawks go all the way in the state playoffs.
Crowds were so big for the playoff games that they had to move the games to Hope College to accommodate the large crowd that wanted to support Fennville. The playoff run ended in a 86-62 defeat against Schoolcraft, but the fact that the team geared up for the playoffs just days after losing a teammate and a friend is remarkable on its own.
These weren't your typical bandwagon fans that wanted to call themselves fans of a winning team, these were fans that wanted to see the best happen to a community that has seen its worst.
As teams dropped out the the NFL playoffs, the population of Packer Nation grew rapidly with people that wanted to see the Lombardi Trophy back in Titletown.
The huge bandwagon fan turnout is due to a couple of reasons:
1) This country used to love Brett Favre. He was gritty, tough and great, but that's not how he left his legacy. In the last couple of years people started turning against Favre because of the way he left Green Bay, how he retired more times than Jordan and his picture scandal. What's the best way to irritate him indirectly? Root for the Packers to win just years after he left.
2) Who can't like Green Bay's history (Chicago fans, don't answer)? The Lambeau leap. The Frozen Tundra. The Lombardi Trophy named after the Packer coaching great. That team defines professional football.
3) Who wasn't sick of the Steelers winning? Exactly.
The bandwagon, conducted by rapper Lil' Wayne, was pleased with a 31-25 victory over the Steelers and is now probably back to getting ready to root for their original team.
If you weren't a Miami Heat fan, you hated their guts. It's no secret.
That's where Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks came in, to stop the South Beach party. Everyone that hated "The Decision" loved the results of the 2011 NBA Finals. In just a matter of weeks, Dirk became an all-time great, Jason Terry became an elite point guard and Rick Carlisle became the next Phil Jackson. Or so we thought to ourselves.
There wasn't a team that everyone wanted to go down more than the Heat, and every round the team to root for changed. Philly failed us, Boston was too old and Chicago was unprepared. And people latched on to their final shot of stopping the Heat from their glory.
So Mavericks, congrats on your NBA title. All of the bandwagon fans thank you.