Hockey Needs the Bandwagon Fan

Ryan PickardCorrespondent IMay 5, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 01:  Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammate Aaron Ward #44 after a goal in the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 1, 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Hurricanes 4-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

As a fan of the Boston Bruins, I know what it's like to be surrounded by bandwagon fans. Living in Boston, I am always around fans that only begin to root for a team if they are winning. While it may sound like I'm being harsh on Boston fans, I'm not trying to be. Bandwagon fans exist all over the country.

But as much as it pains me to say this, hockey needs the bandwagon fan. Before the lockout in 2004-2005, hockey was a major player in the top four sports (hockey, baseball, basketball, football). Ever since the lockout, it has fallen off to the back of the pack.

A major part of this of course is the fact that hockey isn't on TV even as close to as much as it used to be. Now, fans only get to watch hockey on national broadcast once a week on NBC and twice a week on Versus. Most people don't get Versus though, so this is not a good replacement for ESPN.

In the past four years since the lockout, attendance has slowly started rising back up. Yet the numbers aren't as good as they used to be. As most of you know, while most teams can fill out their buildings, especially during playoff time, there are still teams that are struggling to get to 100 percent capacity. Most of these teams are located in the south, where most people care more about football and college sports more than hockey. This is where the bandwagon fan comes in.

The term "bandwagon fan" is mostly defined as being someone who will only root for and start watching a team after they have begun to play well and have a shot at winning. Usually when you're at a game, it's quite easy to point out a bandwagon fan. One of the most recognizable symbols of the bandwagoner is the pink hat. Whenever I see one of these, I feel like taking it and puking right into it.

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The good part with bandwagoners is if the team they start suddenly rooting for continues to play well, then they will learn more about said team and hopefully will become an actual fan and root for the team for years to come. If a person starts watching hockey, then they will most likely get hooked eventually, which leads to TV ratings and revenue getting a boost.

While my allegiances will always be with the Bruins, I will also root for other teams once my team is out of the playoffs. While I might not like the bandwagon fan, I feel hockey needs them until it can get back up with the other major sports.