I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a fairweather fan, at least the way I define it. In fact, I’d like to flip the concept on its head.
My awakening that I’m not a real fan came when I went to a Dodgers-Giants game at Candlestick with about a dozen college students for the first game of the season between those teams. A third of the group was Giants fans, a third Dodgers, and a third with no allegiances other than baseball. A great game with a huge crowd, a fun time had by all - the Dodgers had the Garvey-Russell-Lopes-Cey infield (and such deep pitching that the 3 pitchers that night had over 600 career wins), but Willie McCovey won it for the Giants in the bottom of the 9th and everybody went wild. During the celebration a group of “real fans” jumped over three rows of seats to beat the crap out of the people wearing Dodgers caps.
I grew up loving every single thing about sports, following as much as I could in the dark pre-cable days. At one point participating in and watching sports consumed a good chunk of my personal, academic and professional lives. It still gives me joy. I just can’t be a real fan.
Those who complain the loudest about fair-weather fans often have some of these traits.
I live and die with my team.
Really? A community rallying around a team is great for that community and for that team. If people feel good when their team does well, everybody wins. But if that same person (and by extension his community) is miserable when the team doesn't do well (50% of the time on average), that’s a pretty lousy place to live. If you can’t enjoy the successes without being suicidal when there are failures, you need counseling.
I will do anything to help my team win.
Cheer loudly, great. Buy tickets, fine. Wear jerseys, good for you. Donate to the university, terrific. Send a 200 page salary cap analysis to the GM explaining how your team could have Lebron James, Adrian Peterson and Mike Trout all on the same team, perfect. But too many “real” fans believe in getting trashed, climbing over fences, shining lasers at players, chanting about dead grandmas, fighting with people in the stands, screaming and swearing such that dads don’t feel comfortable taking their kids to games (unless their name is Ligue), and berating neighbors who don’t think the same way.
Get off the bandwagon, we don’t need you!
Ah yes, the well-earned right of the real fan who cheered for the Patriots when they were bad (you know, when they’d only been to two Super Bowls). The reality is you DO need us. The people who get on the bandwagon pay the bills. They pay for the TV commercials, they buy the tickets, they keep your sports radio station on the air, and they talk with you at the water-cooler. They may also know a lot more about the history of your team than you might think. That guy over there? He went to the Olympics. And that one? He watched the father of your favorite player. He might be sitting on his hands and not sporting logoware, or he might not have an $8 beer in his hand. He might not be there at all, and is watching the game at home. There’s a chance he’s only watching the highlights. But you need him.