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Sports for Dummies: Being a loyal fan vs. just following a team

Defining a sports fan can boil down to a spectator who’s taken up an allegiance or fandom for a particular organization. For die-hard fans, that commitment is like throwing a rock through a glass window. Once the choice is made, it’s final; you can’t take it back. 

Being a fan requires certain etiquette. If you’re unfamiliar with the rules, check out this article that makes sense of some basic rules about how to be a sports fan. 

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As a loyal fan, it’s hard for me to acknowledge the fact that some fans can claim they’re genuine supporters of multiple teams competing in the same league. Granted, I think you can be a fan of individual players.

The NBA is a great example of this. They’re a star-driven league that does an exceptional job promoting their players. If you asked anyone who follows the NBA who the top players are, there would be a general consensus with stars like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and more. 

Rams fans celebrate a last-second touchdown that would have given Colorado State a win over No. 7 Utah State. Unfortunately, the play was recalled due to an out-of-bounds call on Preston Williams, and the Rams fell 29-24. (Collegian file photo)

Other leagues like the NFL, NHL and MLB are more regional. If you asked somebody who the top 10 players in the NFL are, you’d probably get similar picks for the first three to five players, like Aaron Donald, Patrick Mahomes, etc.

But somebody from Louisiana might say Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, while somebody from Seattle would say Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. 

I myself am a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, Colorado Rockies, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets and the Milwaukee Brewers when they’re playing the Chicago Cubs.

I follow along with and consider myself a basic fan of the Washington Capitals. I developed a following for the Capitals when I began playing hockey back in 2010. That conflicts with my previous statement in a sense, but I don’t consider myself a die-hard fan for the Capitals like I do for the other teams I stated above, besides the Brewers.

I’m not a bandwagon fan when it comes to the Capitals. Had the team not won their first championship in franchise history in 2018, people would still be wondering why I cheer for a team that had previously choked in the playoffs every year prior to 2018.

I can also justify the Packers and Brewers, as my family from my dad’s side has strong ties to the state of Wisconsin. I went to Packers games as a kid, and my dad grew up in Denmark, Wisconsin, about 20 minutes away from Lambeau Field. He also worked for the Packers when he graduated from college. Plus, I hate everything about Chicago sports. 

What I personally have an issue with, and I think all loyal sports fans can agree, are fans that claim they support multiple teams, especially when it is three or four teams competing in the same league.

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What happens if all four teams make the playoffs? Who do you cheer for? If one of your teams plays another, do you maintain neutrality and just say, “Oh, this is fun; I don’t care who wins!”

Sports can bring both the best of times and the worst of times in the lives of a sports fan. There is nothing more crushing than losing a playoff series to a rival and nothing more relieving than watching your team reach the pinnacle of the sport. This is also when the bandwagon fans really come into the limelight. 

https://twitter.com/LeGoatStan/status/1195578966544986112

The idea of a multiple-team fandom conflicts with being a truly loyal fan. Those who are committed to one team believe you shouldn’t be able to pick and choose between a handful of organizations and base your interests off the success of those organizations on a season-to-season basis. But you can.

Let me restate that I don’t think it’s wrong to cheer for more than one team because any sort of interest in following a team is good for the league. It grows the games and furthers each organization’s market. Just don’t claim you’re a loyal Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers fan because it drives the rest of us, who are die-hard fans for those teams, crazy. 

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @LobergerRyan.

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