One of the most interesting things about being a sports fan involves the reactions from other people when I’m wearing the team colors.* For most of my life, the reactions have tended to be pretty mild. My teams haven’t been particularly successful or popular and the reactions have been the friendly recognition of a fellow fan** or the friendly joshing from a rival.***
*My usual attire does not warrant any extra attention and I typically do not stay aware of either what I’m wearing or how people around me are reacting to it.
**Either a fellow fan of the team or fellow fan of the sport.
***Most notably when Barry Bonds was still playing for the Giants.
Things have been changing, especially over the past year. I’m in the weird position now where a lot of my sports apparel is for teams which have a certain amount of bandwagon appeal.
With my Giants gear, this isn’t a problem. It’s my local team and completely expected that anyone remotely interested in the team would be celebrating a World Series win. I do kind of feel like a poser since baseball has been gradually losing relevance to me but I know I paid my dues many times over as a child.
It’s my Barcelona and Spain gear where I’m really noticing a change. Both teams are extremely in right now—to the point where I see Barça or España jerseys randomly around almost every weekend.
This is both cool and weird. When I first started wearing soccer jerseys, I was typically asked to explain what team it was and why I was wearing it. Now, no need to explain. Instead I get to deal with haters* or people enthusiastically telling how much they love the team but never mentioning anything specific. Likewise, people wearing the jerseys are no longer people who I can count on knowing the current news. They may not even know soccer.
*The more a team wins, the more people come out of the woodwork to hate it.
As a result, I find myself preferring my older jerseys to my newer ones and falling into those hipster clichés about liking things before they became cool. I normally make fun of people who try to make those kinds of claims but sports is different. Supporting a sports team is an almost irrevocable choice. Pick a team, become a fan, and you’re a fan for life. None of this flitting from team to team business. No rooting for multiple teams (unless they never compete against each other). And definitely no gloryhunting.
I know I’m stuck with Barça no matter what happens. My annoyance at the gloryhunters is partially because I don’t like them no matter who they root for, but it’s mainly because I know they will tarnish the perception of all us fans and then bail as soon as things get tough.
And the fact that every once in a while, I catch myself looking forward to when they bail…