When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, sports fans everywhere saw the emergence of the anti-fan. You know exactly who I am talking about. The people who couldn’t name one player on the team but proudly claimed their loyalty to the BoSox and celebrated in the conquest that took 86 years to accomplish. These people cared more about what they wore to the game than the actual sport. There were even those who flipped their Yankees jerseys inside out the millisecond the Red Sox claimed victory.
This bandwagon-fandom goes far beyond the baseball field. These people came crawling out of the woodwork when Syracuse University won its first men’s basketball national championship in 2003. All of a sudden, everyone in the extended 315-area code boundary was a die-hard Orangemen fan. People wore orange to work, Carmelo Anthony became a household name and Jimmy Boeheim was everyone’s best friend. As a Syracuse fanatic, I am offended by those who think they can relish in a win that resulted from none of their support. These people are a disgrace to the spectator community. They experience only the ups of being a fan, without feeling any of the pains from the downsides.
Where were these “nons” when Syracuse lost to the University of Vermont in the first round of last year’s March Madness? Why doesn’t the infamous last second shot made by Keith Smart of Indiana University to win the final game of 1987’s NCAA Tournament cause them even a little heartache? Where were they when Syracuse finally had another appearance in the final game, but then lost weakly to Kentucky?
Perhaps they were with my mother, the absolute queen of all the anti-fans. Just this past break, I watched as she headed to a friend’s house to watch the Syracuse vs. University of Notre Dame game. She wore an orange sweater with a blue vest over it. Now, while this seems like normal grounds for making fun of a parent, this situation was deeper than that. I saw the through her fake fandom immediately. When asked for names of players on the team she named the legendary Gerry McNamara, but after that came a slew of names including the likes of Derek Jeter and LeBron James. Pathetic.
As my mother plans her outfits for the next home game, us real fans will be sitting on the edges of our bleachers, biting our nails, hoping that this year’s team will even make the NCAA tournament. After the 2004-05 season, the loss of such players as Josh Pace, Billy Edelin and powerhouse Hakim Warrick was cause for concern for many Syracuse enthusiasts, as it seemed as if we were losing many of our major contributors. Yet we still had guru GMac, as well as hustlers like Terrence Roberts and Louie McCroskey to keep the legacy alive.
With a team of such depth, it seemed as if the first couple losses to unranked teams like Bucknell University and Seton Hall University were flukes. As the losses have steadily increased, the probability of making the tournament has gradually declined. Although Monday’s win over No. 14 West Virginia was some of the best basketball played by the Orange this season, there are only a few games remaining and they are going to be tough ones at that.
If it is the case that the Orangemen, currently 19-8, do not make the tournament, it will be devastating for the real ‘Cuse addicts. To think that we might not be able to watch Gerry play his would-be last tournament game is enough to make one severely depressed. So, while these so-called anti-fans will go about their daily activities, unaffected by this tragedy, the real buffs will put away our foam fingers, take down our “Moooookie” signs and begin our month-long cleansing fast. However, you can bet that we will be counting down the days until next season, just waiting for our chance to prove that we are worthy of being called by all, a Syracuse fan.
Sall can be reached at email@example.com.