Put mildly, sporting fans can be fickle. In what is just a form of entertainment, many take as a matter of national pride. Despite how much effort the team or athlete may put into the game, the result determines whether they’ll return home to fanfare or violent disdain from disgruntled fans. New Zealand is a prime example of how the mood can change at the drop of a hat. It’s fair to say that we are a nation of bandwagoners. But, what exactly would you define as a ‘bandwagoner’?
A bandwagoner could be defined as partaking in the support of a team or athlete after a run of success. Or it could be through popular opinion. There are many examples where this is demonstrated and perhaps the best example that comes to mind is that of the New Zealand Warriors rugby league franchise. I know this is a motorsport-dedicated blog, but please do read on.
One of the biggest lies in sport is the proclamation of ‘this is our year’. If there is one thing sport has thought me in the past 23 years of my life, it is that sport is as unpredictable as it comes. You can never be assured that it will ever be the year which will culminate in confetti and fanfare. But, if there is one thing that the Warriors fans are guilty of, it’s this. The start of the National Rugby League calendar year always draws a high attendance figure, with many fans hopeful of a boost in performance and incentive to achieve glory. Toward the end of the 2017 season, the Warriors would lose nine-straight games and left many fans irate. Players left the club, as did long-time supporters and it seemed that the club was left in dire straits.
Why mention this? Since the end of last season, a major rebuilding effort has been undertaken within the club, with a noticeable change in attitude and a refreshing take on the season ahead. As of writing this, the Warriors have won their first two games and sit equal first on the NRL ladder. The shift in performance has subsequently ushered in an array of fans and games selling out faster than black market narcotics.
It’s the same story in the world of motorsport. For the majority of the 2017 season, Lance Stroll was vilified and hated based on the money he brought into the Williams team. Therefore, many labelled him as a pay driver who did not attain his seat on merit. However, after watching him ascend through the junior ranks, I knew what he was capable of. Rich or not, you don’t win three championships in three years by being a driver incapable of the top-level of motorsport, and that is discounting his karting accolades. Once his performances started to shine through in the latter part of the year; more specifically where he started to outperform his teammate on a regular basis, people started to look past the Canadian green and onto what he could bring to the table as a driver. This was especially true at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where he narrowly missed out on a potential victory, after being slandered for the majority of his tenure.
It can be regarded as pathetic, but one could be forgiven for benching support until adequate effort and performance is put in. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t lend your full-fledged support toward someone who did not take the time and effort to repay your admission fee? These athletes are paid to perform and whenever it seems they couldn’t be bothered to put said effort in, one can’t expect the fans to get behind them, either.
It’s an almost incurable epidemic – there will always be the bandwagoners, there will always be the haters and there will always be the delusional folk whom believe they know best based on warped philosophy. But, do their opinions really matter? In the end, any increase in fan support can only be a good thing. Whether you would call them ‘fake fans’ or bandwagoners, they will add to the growth of the club or athlete. That is, until the eventual slump in performance, where the cycle repeats itself, once again.
Josh Revell is a writer and eSports competitor who specialises in motorsport. Under the BOX THIS LAP format, Revell also manages a podcast, with episodes streaming every fortnight. Be sure to check back here for weekly content and follow him on Twitter for his views and opinions on all the happenings in the world of motorsport.