On Sunday I wrote about fickle fans and how they’re becoming more and more commonplace – in the Baltimore Orioles’ fan base and elsewhere. And I think I made myself clear in that I firmly disagree with the idea of fan loyalty being somewhat conditional or tied to winning. Anyone who’s read me for some time knows that, incidentally.
Fan loyalty is important – and that’s a blanket statement. But this isn’t just some mouthpiece of the Orioles saying that. There are two reasons for why fan loyalty is important. Yes, the first one admittedly is an emotional one. As I’ve said previously, most people pick their teams when they’re children. So…are people that fickle now to where they’re willing to turn their backs on perhaps their earliest memories?
To me, part of the draw of rooting for a team is the time you spent on your mother’s sofa watching the games growing up, or however you followed the games. That’s why I get frustrated when I hear about fans of any franchise saying they’re switching allegiances. To me, that’s forsaking all of that time spent as a youngster.
However the second reason for fan loyalty is more logical. If fans across the board get frustrated with a team because they aren’t going in the direction that people seem to think is correct to the point that they find a new team en masse, who does that serve? If people are basically going to start supporting someone else both emotionally and financially, doesn’t that in effect create a situation whereby only a few teams are financially stable and able to compete?
Now bearing all of this in mind, there’s also a new kind of fan in a sense: one who’s geographically and thus perpetually up for grabs. I know a few people like this myself; some people who seem to relocate for work reasons every few years seemingly relocate their fan loyalties as well. So if they live in Baltimore at that given time, they root for the Orioles and Ravens. If they pick up shop and move to Chicago, they might start supporting the Bears and the Cubs.
Honestly, while I still do believe in loyalty in perpetuity, this is a bit more explainable than switching because you think your original team is going in the wrong direction. This is the act of someone moving to a new community and trying to fit in right away. Speaking for myself I still think it would make more sense to bring your teams with you given the fact that it’s a link to the old hometown, but as I said I know a few people who fall into this category.
I suppose my main point in bringing any of this up is that fandom should be through thick and thin. Yes the Orioles fell on some incredibly hard times from 1998-2011. But if you were a true fan to begin with, you stayed with them and never wavered. But that’s just my view. The opposing one says that sports are supposed to make you feel good, so if your first team doesn’t work out find one that makes you happy. But these are the times in which we live.