21 December 2010

The Myth of the 'Bandwagonist'

By Dr3

I’ve become an internet stan of this genius, who I’m convinced should either write more about football, or selfishly write here with me. During the Rooney saga he harped on something simple yet significant: telling the truth doesn’t constitute being honest. Being able to separate the truth of what a bandwagonist is, from what is honestly a morality tirade built on sand reveals the anomaly; we are all bandwagonists.

A bandwagonist (or bandwagoner) is supposedly a person who is either a fair-weather supporter, and/or a new-money supporter; a person of no real character, who is as fickle as he/she is ignorant of the true meaning of ‘our’ sport. The opinion of a bandwagonist is void in that it holds no real understanding of context and history. A bandwagonist usually supports a team that is easy to support; who wouldn’t support them? A bandwagonist is dismissed as hackneyed and manly men (as in sexists), would count their thoughts as those of a woman; a pseudo-man, pseudo-fan. Exactly.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the real fan; a fan of the team, and not the players. A fan whose allegiance never alters. A fan whose allegiance is based on the identity of the group, the colors, the history, the culture. A real fan in pseudo-tribalism. But how was I inducted?

Some truths

1. In a sweeping but accurate generalization, men as a group are more avid and religious followers of football than women.

2. Fickle fans, with 5 favorite teams, who would say things like Cr7 somehow introducing the use of ‘speed’ to our game exist; yes, they do.

3. ManCity fans, Chelsea fans, and new Barcelona fans, are all more than likely the casual football fan whose increased enthusiasm coincidently coincided with either unprecedented growth, and/or success.

In being honest though, unless you’re some type of Real Oviedo-loving type of person, how were you inducted?

In what is not really a new trend in any realm of life, being a coherent contrarian is supposedly the measure of a real understanding of whatever the subject is. So while the people who are too ‘mainstream’ accept that global warming exists, that earthquakes and holes in the ozone are real, some of us postulate about weather machines. While most people accept Messi as the second coming of the prophet for the Iglesia Maradoniana, some of us purport that it’s the quiet subtle wizard known as Xavi. In an attempt to separate ourselves from the rest in establishing our footballing acumen, we identify the bandwagonists amongst ourselves. Anyone can see that Messi and Cr7 are great, but it takes a real footballing connoisseur to realize that it’s Xavi.

Let me just stop here to say that Xavi is not the best center midfielder of all time (Oh Garganese). He is not the best player in the world. Most importantly, there is not a chance in any football world that he is either more pivotal or more of a genius than Messi is. To borrow from Sid Lowe, people writing about Xavi and defining and listing these traits where he’s so superior, might as well add the criteria of Xavi-ness. In specifying all these qualities for your ‘center midfielder’ you’re effectively saying that Xavi is the best at the Xavi-position, therefore he’s the best of all time?????

Let me just list some center midfielders without fleeting era-defined roles;

Zidane, Pirlo, Veron, Riquelme, Redundo, Gaurdiola, Scholes, Rivaldo, Totti, Matthäus, Cruyff, Platini, Baggio, Simeone, Laudrup, Rui Costa, Maradona, Rijkaard, Gullit, Claude, Deco, Vieira, Hagi, Deschamps, Edgar Davids, Ballack, Albertini, Litmanen, ………

Please tell me you got the facking picture?

But back to the Bandwagonism. So by differentiating the real football brain from the fake, the googly-eyed fickle fans from the football aficionados, we defined the bandwagonist. But whether your allegiance is with Manchester United or Bayern Munich with one question the anomaly is revealed; how did you start supporting them? What is the root of your now undying support? Was it not fickle? Was it not flashing lights and glamour? Superstar players? Historical success? The strength of a brand? Most TrinBagonians supporting Manchester United, started because of Dwight Yorke. Are you all Bandwagonists? Yorke is gone, but you remain faithful, does that legitimize your beginnings? In 10-15 years won’t the same City/Chelsea/New-Barca fans be in your same boat? Unless you are in fact born into a team, such as being born into the blue half of Merseyside, how do you verify any claim that your allegiance was founded on anything that is real? People try to defend themselves citing a certain style of play, while bashing another team with the same philosophy as theirs. Why Arsenal and not Barcelona? Why not Blackpool, or Napoli, or Palermo, or Dortmund, who all play expansive, ‘sexy’ football? Why Inter? Why AC Milan? The answers to these questions are admittedly multi-facetted, from TV rights, to your country of origin etc etc..but it highlights an irony; how fickle we are in accusing a fan of being fickle. Why can’t a ‘new’ team be born today? Why can’t a future historical team be born today? While we stand on our moral high grounds, weren’t our teams once a team with a dream and an injection of funds? Aren’t the successes of our teams tied to investment in some way in its history?

Of course if we add a membership clause to the moral contract of being a football fan, then the real amongst us are vindicated. After being on the bandwagon for long enough, you become a member. My support wasn’t fleeting, and I didn’t follow Ibrahimovic when he left; I am a real fan. My team is good, not based on the current strength of their purse, but through an excellent Cantera. It doesn’t matter that it’s actually the historical success, and name brand that lures the talented youth like the Neverland Valley Ranch; my team is honorable. Your team spends dirty money.

In reading and writing more about football I have realized it’s an extension of other aspects of life. People want to be able to identify themselves as part of something special if not superior to the norm. From making football a science of completion rates and pie charts, to finding meaning to Mourinho-esque psycho babble, people keep introducing new ways to look at football; intricacies that would be missed by Bandwagonists and women alike. The truth is that ManCity fans are bandwagonists. So are the Chelsea new-money fans. It’s true that fickle fans erode our football utopia; from hailing Bale as the best, to Neymar somehow being more talented than Ronaldinho was. The truth is that I also identify myself as a real fan; a fan that won’t argue on a forum about Fletcher or Carrick being better than Cambiasso. In all honesty though, until we sign a fan contract with that time membership clause, I would be kidding myself if I thought I didn’t jump on a bandwagon.

SN: I do think Xavi is the best right now. But 3 years ago Pirlo was better than him.Easily.Could it be because your team wins, you become the best?

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