What’s bad about joining bandwagon?

June 12, 2018

Nothing brings out an undercover fan more than the World Cup, particularly with Australians following the Socceroos.

Fan bases across the globe must let go of their elitist ways.

Like a lover of the underground music scene screeching ‘‘I liked them before they went mainstream’’ when a band makes it big, sporting fans love to point the finger at a ‘‘bandwagoner’’.

Granted, your typical bandwagoner stands out like an arts graduate on a construction site, but this particular subset of sporting enthusiast needs to be applauded, not ostracised.

Bandwagoners, or disposable fans as I like to call them (because you use them once), are second to only dyed-in-the-wool generational supporters in terms of importance to a team, league or organisation in my eyes.

This is partly because of the influx of income a disposable fan will bring in one big hit — think merchandise buys such as scarves, jumpers, beanies and the rest all at once.

But the main reason disposable fans are so crucial to an organisation is the unbridled fervour that a group of them can generate.

The social media age allows for a team to garner huge support in the blink of an eye with little more than a hashtag.

The conversion rate is certainly not high for disposable fans to make the jump from passive to active supporter just because of a hashtag, but like a snowball careening down the side of a mountain, once something is trending it can envelop millions within minutes.

We are in primetime when it comes to bandwagons.

The NBA Finals have just finished, the World Cup is about to start and on the home front, perhaps the biggest chance for a bandwagoner to display their once-yearly interest in a sport is on.

NRL’s State of Origin extravaganza allows passive rugby league fans to make a 50:50 decision on which team to support on three winter Wednesdays.

If NSW wins the second State of Origin clash, there will be a huge swing of disposable fan support to the Cockroaches.

For years the NRL has not been able to squeeze every last drop out of the disposables because they all bought Maroon jumpers last decade and have dusted them off every year since then.

But with the changing of the guard that has happened in QLD’s squad, the time is ripe for a new wave of NSW merchandise to fly off of the shelves.

Perhaps the fan base that becomes angriest at bandwagoners is that of the Socceroos.

About the time of Australia’s Asian Cup win I noticed countless quips on Twitter about one-time fans and people only coming out of the woodwork because we were winning.

It is the complete opposite attitude to have.

We must welcome every ounce of support we can garner ahead of the mammoth task ahead of our boys in Russia starting on Saturday night.

Rope in your AFL, NRL, NBL and even Super Netball friends and park them in front of a TV come 8pm Saturday, because if Australia has any chance of progressing through its group it needs all the help it can get.

And when those friends get swept up in the world game for three weeks before crawling back into the woodwork, don’t be disappointed.

Because if there is one thing you can count on with a bandwagoner, it’s that they will be back in time for the next big event with new merchandise in hand and rulebook at the ready.

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