Jumping on the bandwagon is becoming a normal thing today—and these kinds of fans are missing out on something more important

By Klyde Manansala | Visuals by Marian Hukom

Is loyalty to a sports team still a thing these days? Is it totally acceptable to jump ship from one team to another?

Apparently, free agency in the NBA doesn’t only apply to players who have opted out of their contracts. It has also become a thing for the huge population of fans who seem to have their own version of fan free agency as they continue to shift from supporting one title contender team to another year after year.

Bandwagon sports fans aren’t new in the world of fanaticism. In fact, as times past by, it’s becoming an ordinary thing—which shouldn’t be—as seen by the growing numbers of people who out of nowhere started tweeting #StrengthInNumbers the past three years. Not to mention that they only tweet this during the NBA Finals.

Seriously, where were these fans when Stephen Curry was still throwing lobs over Monta Ellis? Where were they when the Warriors were still rotting at the bottom of the Western Conference’s standings? Oh, of course, they didn’t know who Monta was, and worse, probably didn’t even know the Warriors was an NBA team.

Or let’s just put it this way: Which teams were they rooting for during the dark ages of the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers? Most likely, they were rocking a LeBron James’ Miami Heat uniform.

“If you’ve never dealt with the dismay of a true fan during their squad’s sufferings, is it really right for you to say you’re a fan?

For someone who just supports the flavor of the month, claiming yourself as a huge fan of a team who has just been ringing bells lately is seriously despicable for true fans out there who have invested time in trusting the so-called process during the dark ages.

The essence of being part of a certain fandom is to deal with everything your team will endure, be it on their glorious days or, most especially, the times when they completely suck.

The spiteful thing about bandwagon fans is that they never wanted to deal with the pain and agony that they might bear while supporting the same team each year. They never wanted to feel those emotional letdowns when the squad they’re rooting for didn’t make the playoffs for the eighth straight season. They never wanted to end up disappointed.

If you’ve never dealt with the dismay of a true fan during their squad’s sufferings, is it really right for you to say you’re a fan?

While it’s totally normal to admire a team that’s been garnering success lately, learning how to stick and continuing to support a team despite adversities is what makes fanaticism a great learning instrument in our lives. The most important thing is to latch yourself and stick with that team—victory or misery, through the good times and bad times, playoff contender or not.

“The essence of being part of a certain fandom is to deal with everything your team will endure, be it on their glorious days or, most especially, the times when they completely suck.

Remember when LeBron shed tears after he ended Cleveland’s 52-year title drought in 2016? Cavalier fans who stayed loyal and have waited years for that moment cried tears of joy too. Their devotion was rewarded with an immeasurable feeling of delight and happiness. Those emotions were genuine, they felt fulfillment because of their love for the team—and that’s what bandwagon fans are missing out on.

When Oklahoma City Thunder fans burned Kevin Durant’s jersey and signature shoes after he left the Thunder, it showed how much pain they felt upon seeing one of their franchise’s cornerstone players reject and leave them for the Warriors—as if a 73-9 team needed another star player to win a ring again.

Being a true fan comes with learning how to sacrifice and commit. Just like the team you’re rooting for, you cannot be always on top. Even if it takes decades to witness your favorite player kiss and raise that championship trophy, your perseverance, trust, and emotional investment you’ve put into that team will be rewarded with fathomless joy once they finally reach the destination they—and you—have been longing for.

“While it’s totally normal to admire a team that’s been garnering success lately, learning how to stick and continuing to support a team despite adversities is what makes fanaticism a great learning instrument in our lives.

Sometimes, it may feel like you’re waiting for absolutely nothing. You may feel tired. You may be endlessly disappointed. But choosing to cheer for the successful team rather than staying with the one where your heart really lies will never give you the joy a real fan feels.

Believe me. All this is coming from me, a die-hard Ginebra fan, who saw myself punching a wall and crying in bed at night as I witnessed the Gins consistently lose each PBA conference. I patiently waited for eight long years for the most popular ball club in the country to win a championship again. When they finally regained the spotlight in 2016, I felt nothing but joy and fulfillment.

So, if you are a self-proclaimed Warriors fan today, make sure you will be still around in the coming years, rocking those Dubs jersey, after the dynasty that Steph, Dray, Klay, and KD have built fades away—which is inevitable.