“Brady Quinn? What’s he doing in there? Put Russell Wilson in!”
It was the second quarter of the Seahawks’ inaugural foray into what is alleged to be their first championship season. And not one hour down the path of Title Road there was ignorance among us.
“Seriously. Why isn’t Russell playing? Is he okay? Is he hurt?”
More cringing. And this time I wasn’t alone. Two guys next to me, both attired in dark blue home jerseys, gave each the sort of nervous look you send a friend when a close personal acquaintance begins to, say, get belligerently drunk in public. A look that says, “We should probably put a stop to this right now, but let’s just wait a tick and hope things get better.”
Minutes later, the emphatic punctuation of the moment came to be, as the small, annoying girl in the Russell Wilson jersey-shirt began to grasp a pseudo-understanding of the situation: “Wait. Is Brady Quinn, like, playing for real? Is he really playing right now?”
The light didn’t go on, exactly, but it flickered. And in the fleeting brightness of that flickering stood a very confused, very diminutive creature. A twenty-something young woman with but a greenhorn’s understanding of America’s game, who could nary decipher the difference between a playoff game and a preseason one, who plodded around in Toms shoes, secure in her belief that a 12-year-old field worker in Nicaragua named Pablo had benefited from her very purchase, nay, her very existence. It was in this instant that it dawned on me that we had indeed embarked on a new era of Seahawks football. And along with that era — along with all the hope and expectation, the excitement and anticipation — came what I now saw before me: the bona fide bandwagon fan.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a good problem to have. Bandwagon fans mean things must be going well for your ballclub. Bandwagon fans mean people actually want to celebrate your team, for no other reason than the fact that it’s cool to celebrate your team. But while bandwagon fans draw out your ire when they’re wearing the opponent’s colors, they draw out your ire when wearing the home colors, too. It is this aspect of the bandwagon fan that is so fundamentally befuddling. They wear the right things and we want to like them. But every time they open their mouths we want to gouge our eyes out with a rusty spoon. It’s probably right on par with dating Fran Drescher.
It’s 2013 and we’re riding the wagon, Seahawks fans. That wagon will roll swiftly along throughout the fall, honking its horn on Sundays. With each bit of national acclaim, with every ensuing victory, with magazine cover appearances and the swagger that seems to tag along with winning, there will be more and more bandwagon fans. And they won’t go away.
Truth be told, we need them to stick around. Not to fill up a stadium or add crowd noise (we certainly don’t need any help there), but to ensure that good fortune remains with this organization. This is no chicken and egg scenario. There is no doubt which came first, the bandwagon or the winning. It’s pretty clear-cut: the winning begets the bandwagon. And thus the bandwagon and its riders are a sure sign of success.
But in acknowledging the newfound presence of the johnny-come-lately novices, I subsequently issue a plea.
Please, dear bandwagon fan, for the love of all things holy, get educated. Do a little homework. Study up on the game, the team, the players. Speak knowledgeably about this thing you’ve attached yourself to. Be a responsible fan, a good fan. Be better than just another bandwagoner.
Nobody wants to hear you lament the absence of a starter in the midst of a preseason game. Nobody wants to listen to you whine over a misunderstanding or grumble in the throes of your naiveté. We don’t have to be Tacoma-bred Red Sox bros unaware of who Carlton Fisk and Dwight Evans are. We don’t have to be them, for God’s sake. We don’t have to become “Bawston” West.
Likewise, if you’re a friend to the tragically uninformed, inform them. The poor girl who couldn’t wrap her mind around the sight of Brady Quinn under center was alongside friends who refused to correct her, who refused to help her. Be a good friend. Be a mentor, like the commercials once said. Because the more you know…well, they never really finished the thought in those old school public service announcements, but I assume “the more you know” was a good thing.
So, bandwagon fans. The more you know. The more…you…know.