So last night, the Washington Wizards lost a heart breaker at the buzzer to the Detroit Pistons. After watching the replay a few times, I thought to myself 'Why do we do this as sports fans of teams that are eh?' Wouldn't it just be easier to root for whatever team is dominant? I mean, some people do pull the bandwagon act and cheer for whatever team is winning. You hear things such as 'I've been down with Team X since....' or 'I'm not really that teams fan, but I like Player X....' I laugh at both and shake my head, but I totally get it. People just don't want to have to have their heart broken when their team of choice loses games they were supposed to win or go on 5 or 6 game losing streaks. Me being a die hard fan of my teams of choice, I usually like having fun with any bandwagon fans. Nothing too serious though because I've seen friendships end, families stop speaking over sports and I don't want to lose any of my fam because I think that John Wall is better than Kyrie Irving (this is not up for debate....its true!)
My fandom is a pretty strange one. I root for teams all over the map for each sport and I have stories for each. Since my father was in the military, we moved around a lot so I don't really have a 'hometown'. Most of my immediate family lives in North Carolina, so I usually say that when someone pushes me on where I'm 'from'. I have different reasons for my teams. The main team that I will probably always root for is the North Carolina Tarheels. My father is a huge fan and because I grew up watching the games with him, I am also. I went to high school in Nebraska and knew a few dudes who ended up playing for the Cornhuskers, so I still root for them. Even though I am a diehard NBA basketball fan, I've followed and been a fan of a few different teams. I started off rooting for the Charlotte Horners because of the North Carolina roots, then I moved over to really pulling hard for the New York Knicks because of me living in NYC for 8 years. Then when I re-located to the DC area, I started going to Wizards games with my boy Leon. They were a train wreck, but a fun wreck. They had two 'wildcards' in Shaqin a fool MVP JaVale McGee and Andray 'Strip Club Thursdays' Blatche. We started to go to so many games that we decided to get season tickets and the rest is history. I moved over from #knickstape to #DCfamily.
I highlight the WIzards fandom because they have been a mediocre franchise for so long. I'm relatively knew to it so I'm not aware of the past history like a lot of Wizards/Bullets fans around me are. I'm aware of past guys and funny stories like: Rod Strickland eating a bunch of junk food right before playing a game and usually throwing up during the game in a towel within full view of everyone, Calbert Cheaney was and still remains a fan favorite which is odd to me, and I still every once in a while see a fan with a Tom Gugliotta jersey from back in the day. But all and all, the WIzards are a hard time to root for. They drafted John Wall and he is now a top 10 - 15 guy in the league and he has led them back to the playoffs and respectability but they are no where near the levels of a Golden State or Cleveland. But I guess that it sort of the beauty of the sports world. You spend a lot of years waiting and waiting for a team to have that magical run where everything falls into place and they are championship contenders, but most of the time, it never happens. Unless you jump on a bandwagon. I would feel silly rooting for the Wizards all year long, but when the playoffs roll around, I'm all about Golden State.
Ultimately, I can't fault anyone for not wanting to deal with the downs of a team they only have a passing knowledge about. Its easier that way. You get excited for big game because your team probably will either win or be in a good game with another team. Its easier to find merchandise and you can jump into any argument with other fans and say 'Well, at least 'we' have some recent championships' There is something beautiful in the struggle though. Almost like going up to someone who always thought the team was going to lose and saying 'I told you so!' I remember DC during the Wizards two recent playoff runs. During the season, the enthusiasm Verizon Center would be....lacking. But when the playoffs came around and the Wizards pulled off those two first round victories, you had bandwagon people coming out of the woodworks for them! As a fan who has been there for them through everything, it was a little disheartening that people lump you in with the 'new' fans, but hey, most people love success and rooting for a winner. I'll end this with, sports fandom is one of the strangest and awesome thing I have encountered in my lifetime. You can actually tell a lot about a person by the teams they pulled for. That may or may not be a true statement....but I wonder where all of the Miami Heat 'fans' have gone?
Please remember to take care of yourselves
- John Cannady