2013 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup championship celebration parade. Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The “B” Word

If I had a dollar for each time I saw this word pop up in Facebook comments and other online fan forums, I could probably afford seats on the glass at the United Center.

Bandwagon.

This word, and any variation thereof, irritates me for two main reasons. First, it’s terribly overused and misused. Certain fans with a superiority complex like to throw around this term as a way to insult people who express a different opinion, no matter how reasonable or plausible that point of view may be. Simply disagreeing with them inevitably leads to the ridiculous assumption that you just don’t know the first thing about hockey.

Do you really think Crawford is an elite goalie? Bandwagon fan! Do you think he’s a terrible goalie? Bandwagon fan!

The second tendency I notice about people who use this word is that they claim to have been a diehard fan well before the 2009 – 2010 season. Anyone who started following the Blackhawks any time thereafter is automatically given the “bandwagon” label.

Let’s step back for a moment and think about the typical ways in which one becomes a fan. Clearly the most common way is to be born into a family that already follows that sport or team. Given the place that football and baseball has in American culture, it’s probably safe to say that more Chicagoans grew up with the Bears, and either the Cubs or the White Sox, than with hockey in general or the Blackhawks specifically.

Another way is to be introduced by a friend or a peer group . . . or perhaps even a whole city. In 2010, it seems like every Chicagoan rejoiced when the Blackhawks ended its long Stanley Cup drought, and for good reason. Championships give us a great opportunity to unite in a common sense of civic pride. They may also introduce us to a great sport that we previously didn’t know much about.

Instead of moaning and groaning about new fans jumping on the bandwagon, we should try to keep people from jumping back off when the Blackhawks aren’t winning all the time. Moreover, instead of ridiculing a new fan for their lack of knowledge about stats or rules of the game, we should look for opportunities to educate them. We may still disagree with their opinion, but at least we will know that it’s not an entirely uneducated one.

From this point on, let’s ban the “B” word as we welcome new Blackhawks fans into our ranks and teach them our traditions. Let’s make sure the National Anthem stays loud and proud, long into the future.

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks