I admit that, as an expat identifier, I am thereby a target for certain features of fandom that would otherwise not apply. Thus, I identify as a Bostonian, and as such have been known to wear Boston-sport-themed paraphernalia around the swell city of Pittsburgh. A ballcap, actually, has been the extent of my profligacy.
Given that the wonderful baseball team of Pittsburgh is a National League team, and given that the Red Sox (the Braves having long since fled to to the Senior Circuit) are American League, one would expect that I would have a marvelous opportunity—to root for a “rival” team while not betraying my home team. This is indeed a wonderful and much-desired component of fandom. No one wants to be accused of fan treachery; many wish they could expand their enthusiasms beyond the narrow grounds of local geography. The American/National League dichotomy allows for a unique privilege here–since Boston and New England generally (unlike New York, Texas, Florida, and the Bay area) has only one major baseball team, wouldn’t it be wonderful if one could root for two teams–AL and NL. While in principle this anarchic suggestion could lead to fans of teams traditionally opposed to one another (even Yankees/Dodgers, or (god forbid) Red Sox/Mets), in practice this sort of carelessness/sinfulness is very rare.
I mention all of this as a lead-in to the notion of fan-switching, or allegiance-switching. I grew up as a Boston boy, and a Boston fan–when I was 10, the Bruins and Red Sox were in their decline, the Celtics were in ascendance, and the Patriots were still six years away from contention. I was a fan of all four teams, although I cheated terribly on the Patriots, since from 1984–1987 I avidly followed Walter Payton and the Chicago Bears, and I was agnostic toward the Bruins––I knew about half the roster, but they were rarely on TV, and were being eclipsed in the mind of a shameless 12-year old by the Billy Smith/Denis Potvin/Mike Bossy/Bryan Trottier Islanders (who were entombed wonderfully by Strat-O-Matic hockey, in which they were almost unbeatable (except for a sad Edmonton team led by a child named Gretzky).
I mention it because I have one ballcap that declares my allegiances. One, that reads “B”, meaning Red Sox. Several people have assumed I was a bandwagon fan as a result, which offends me far more than is reasonable, although any sports fan who reads this will understand. There are, I am sure, many bandwagon RedSox fans since 2004, 2007, and 2013. I am not one of them…and while it can be understandable when a child changes sports allegiances with the times…it is pathetic when an adult does. And…for a forty-something to do so is a disgrace! Please, please, please…stop assuming that the forty-something fellow running in Schenley park is a RS-fan Johnny-cum-lately…! I earned it…oh yes…!