Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010
By Joe Collins
Let me fix your wagon.
Picture this. You and your dream girl (or guy) are on your first date. You know you have a hot one. A fancy dinner is planned. Your buddy hooked you up with box seats for later on that night.
Your date has a nice smile. You get ahead of yourself and start thinking about where the second date will be, how your wedding will be...and what your first child will be named. Things start off smoothly - the dinner is great, the conversation is amazing...etc.
But then when you get up to leave...she calls you by the wrong name.
Cue the 'losing horn' of failure.
Talk about a bummer, you know? Everything was going so well. You thought you established a connection with a person and then figured out they didn't read the foreward of, "Dating For Dummies." You try to overlook the faux pas but keep coming back to it again and again the rest of the night: "How can a person not remember that?
"Was it something I did? Do I detect a fraud? Is that the ultimate red flag? Do they get a second chance?"
The same is true in sports.
Maybe you have gone to a game recently and had the following happen: you're part of a large group of people wearing similar team colors. It's like date night with 60,000 of your closest friends. Everyone's having fun, high-fiving after big plays...etc. Then, the following exchange takes place with another member of your group:
You: "Wow...that kickoff return was crazy! Did you see that block? Nobody can touch 2-3 when he gets into the open field."
Other Dude: "I know man! David Hester...you are...reee-markable!"
(You can almost hear the needle scratching off the record)
You: "Mmm...y-you mean...Devin Hester is reee-diculous?"
Other Dude: (awkward silence)
Talk about the ultimate red flag.
You've been hit. Not by a smooth criminal...but by a bandwagon fan.
Bandwagon fans are the most scrutinized group in sports. And before anybody gets nervous, no, I'm not calling Bears fans - or any other group of fans - bandwagoners. But I'm guessing that a ridiculous (ha) percentage of Bears fans should know that Devin Hester was labeled "ridiculous" by announcer Jeff Joniak on an amazing return for touchdown a few years ago.
But every group of friends has "that guy" that claims a hard core allegiance to a certain team...and then, amazingly, can't remember how to pronounce the star player's name on said team...or something equally mind-boggling. The reaction by others is usually one part unintentional comedy, two parts disbelief and five more parts anger.
Bandwagon fans are always a mixed blessing for every sports franchise: they pack the stadiums and bars when teams are winning, and then usually vanish once the team falls below .500. They also add to the bottom line and make TV executives glad that they invested in the team for a prime time slot.
But on the flip side, you also get "David Hester" moments coming out of the woodwork every now and then. Personally, I don't mind bandwagoners all that much, I'm all for the awkward comedy. And in the end, there isn't all that much you can do about it but sit and wonder if these bandwagoners fake their way through other parts of life.
But maybe it's time to do something about it.
I have developed a five-question bandwagon defrauding kit for each of the major sports teams in Chicago (CubsSoxBullsBlackhawksBears). I urge you to give a suspected bandwagoner the quiz if you think heshe might be scamming you. Each set of questions is easy enough that the mildly interested fan should get without much hesitation. But they're just hard enough to force the bandwagon fans into buying the next round of drinks.
(Disclaimer: Any fan who physically goes to a game and cheers for a Chicago team or supports them in any way is a winner in my book and it doesn't matter what their sports acumen is...but still...)
--The last Cubs World Series championship came in what year?
--What Cubs outfielder won National League MVP honors in 1987?
--What Cubs pitcher threw a no-hitter against the Astros in 2008?
--What team passed the Cubs down the stretch to win the N.L. East in 1969?
--True or false: Cubs and Cardinals fans are usually the best of friends and root for each other's team.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX:
--Who was the most valuable player in the 2005 World Series?
--What was Carlton Fisk's number while playing for the White Sox?
--What shortstop won American League Rookie of the Year honors for the southsiders in 1985?
--What Sox pitcher recently won his second gold glove?
--Which Minnesota team makes the blood of a White Sox fan boil more: The Twins or St. Olaf?
--Derrick Rose went to what Chicago high school?
--After playing for the Bulls, Michael Jordan went to play for what other NBA team?
--What two players were the building blocks for the "Baby Bulls" in 2001?
--Coach Tom Thibodeau was an assistant on what team last season?
--Bill Laimbeer, a guy whose car you'd want to egg in the 1980s, was part of what nemesis team?
--"The Golden Jet" is the nickname for what Hall of Fame Blackhawk?
--Who scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 to clinch the 2010 Stanley Cup?
--Name one player from the 1992 Chicago Blackhawks team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
--True or false: The Blackhawks once made the playoffs 28 consecutive seasons.
--What "Original Six" team is considered to be the archrival to the Hawks? (Hint: They wear red, too)
--What was the final score of Super Bowl XX?
--What Chicago Bear ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI?
--Where did the Bears play their home games prior to moving into Soldier Field in 1971?
--Quarterback Jay Cutler went to what university?
--True or false: Green and yellow are popular colors to be worn at Soldier Field - especially if you are in the upper level and the home team is winning 35-3 (well...I guess the answer varies depending on how you view the question).
So go get 'em, Chicago fans. See who the longtime, loyal followers are in your group.
And then locate the sheep. But go easy on them, all will be forgotten when they get the next round of drinks.
And they better.