The perks of fair-weather fandom
I’ll start off by saying that I enjoy watching sports and that I have a basic fondness for three teams: the St. Louis Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The first, obviously, is due to the fact that I go to school in St. Louis and never had a home baseball team before 2008 when I came here. The second and third are mostly geographical affiliations—the Panthers are my hometown team (their stadium is in Charlotte) and both of my parents attended UNC.
But if you were to get down to brass tax, I’m not a particularly dedicated fan to any of these teams. Despite knowing the Tar Heels’ fight song, I couldn’t tell you a single statistic that isn’t related to their few recent NCAA Championships and the fact that Michael Jordan got his start there. I know Cam Newton was a really big acquisition for the Panthers, but despite his tremendous stats, we haven’t been winning. Even if they showed Panthers games at more than one place in St. Louis, I doubt I’d spend my Sundays watching their games. The Cards, too, are victims of my fair-weather fandom. It’d be a lie to say that I wasn’t stoked when they won the World Series—in the middle of my senior year, no less—and I absolutely went downtown to celebrate; but I have only attended two of their games in my four years here. I also don’t own a single article of Cardinals gear—though I do, oddly enough, have a baseball cap for both the Tar Heels and the Panthers.
Once, a friend from home who attends another Midwestern university called me out for not being a “true” Panthers fan. For a while, I was intent on proving him wrong, but I soon realized that being a fair-weather fan isn’t so bad. A school like Washington University attracts students from all around the country, and therefore all kinds of sports fans. Sometimes, I have to root for one team—like Auburn in last year’s national championship, because my sister goes there and is a huge fan—but my lack of a solid affiliation gives the act of watching a game a good baseline level of enjoyment. Hey, at least I’m up-front about it. There are always those fair-weather fans who pretend they liked the team all along.
The benefits of being a real fan, I’m sure, are wonderful—there’s a sense of pride when your team finally brings home the pennant or the trophy; but I go to a Division III school, and sports aren’t my main focus. I guess if there’s any team I should root for, it’d be our Wash. U. Bears. While it’s nice to be able to cheer unabashedly for whatever team is winning, there’s nothing like having a home team that you can really call your own. Now, if that home team can maybe make it to the playoffs again, then maybe I’ll finally start watching. Even the Bears need their own fair-weather fans.