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Talk Sporty 101: Ugh! Bandwagon Fans

I understand the reaction. I know it can seem annoying. Fans (and I know you don’t want to call them that) who only become fans after a team gets good. Fans who don’t understand the pain of losing seasons, unmet expectations and disappointment or the angst that goes along with being a life-long fan. It’s tempting to write off bandwagon fans and believe they’re not “real fans.”

Wrong. There’s no right or wrong way to be a fan. You were new to sports once too. Everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes the winning team, the team that’s making the most headlines, the team that’s being talked about most, is the easiest place to start. You can’t blame a fan for buying into the hype created by winning team and engaged fanbase.

Here’s what you can do, help newcomers grow their fandom and move past being bandwagon fans into more interested, engaged fans. 

  1. Engage in a conversation. Short conversations count. You don’t need to commit to more than 30 seconds. 
  2. Share your fandom. Instead of grilling them about how much they don’t know, try sharing your personal experiences. You could mention how long you’ve been a fan and offer to share insights as they get a better grasp of the team or sport. NOTE: This is not about bragging or trying to make anyone feel bad. The purpose of sharing your fandom is to make a connection and bring other fans along in their fandom. 
  1. Prompt more in-depth conversations. If there’s one or two fans you regularly engage with, bring them along in the conversation by changing the questions you ask.  “What did you think of the game?” is a good starting point. It’s also a question fans of all levels can answer. You can step the conversation up the next time you talk with a question like: “What did you think about the starting pitcher?” If you want to level up again get even more specific: “How frustrating was it to watch them waste multiple bases-loaded opportunities?” NOTE: You should not be asking questions with the purpose of stumping new fans. Sports small talk is a chance to make a connection, get to know someone and create follow up opportunities.

You might not enjoy talking to bandwagon fans as much as your other groups of fan friends but it doesn’t mean they’re not fans or shouldn’t be fans. You have the ability to help them move past their entry-level fandom and if they never do, you’re not obligated to have conversations you don’t want to have, but start by giving them a chance.



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