Mid-Week Rants: Jumping on the World Cup "Bandwagon", Do's & Don'ts



I am not going to sit here and write about how much I hate "bandwagoners". You know, those folks that pick to support a team that is either on a very hot winning streak, or a team that has been in the spotlight recently because of a surprising win over a much stronger opponent. Over the years I've come to terms with the fact that this "jumping on the bandwagon" is inevitable in almost all sports. But I will give you a list of things you may want to try to do if you so chose to support a "new" team, and of course the juicy list of things you shouldn't do, unless of course you want to look like a total dickhead.


Research

Do: Learn about the team, its history and its fan base. Know the players names and how they qualified for the World Cup.

Don't: If you haven't done your research you should never talk about the team as if you follow them your entire life. You never know who you're speaking to, or even who's sitting around you eavesdropping. Someone who knows football or is from the particular country will know right away that you have no clue what you're talking about, and if they are anything like me, they will call you out on it!


Merchandise

Do: Go ahead, buy a team shirt, a hat, a scarf, a key-chain or anything else with the team's flag or colors, but don't go overboard. Stick to one or two items.

Don't: Don't go spending thousands of dollars on the team's merchandise because if you're a "bandwagoner" chances are you either started following the team a few matches into the World Cup and you will likely wear all this crap just once before the tournament is over, or, once the next big tournament comes around you will be "supporting" a totally different team and you will have no need for all the stuff you got. As funny as it is seeing a $200 Spanish jersey at the local donation bin, you may want to invest that money into something else. Also, don't buy fake crap. You don't want to look too cheap to care. Go and get yourself a real kit, or if you can't afford it might as well just buy an official team t-shirt that will cost you less than a fake jersey.




Culture

Do: Learn the culture of the country if its not your background. Let's say you started to like Colombia because they are in fact doing very well. Now it's time to learn about the people. Visit a local bar where the people from that country will be watching the match, mingle and see if their passion can rub-off on you as well. Try their food, and learn a few word in their native tongue even.

Don't: Don't go into a Colombian bar and cheer harder than everyone else using the Spanish you learned from watching television. It will seem as if you're making fun of their language and culture and is quite disrespectful.


Why are you a fan?

Do: Have a background story on why you are a fan of that particular team. Truth is always good, so when asked (especially by people from that country) why you support their beloved team, be honest and they will respect you for it.

Don't: Don't make up an elaborate story about your connection to the team. "I'm actually from Bulgaria but my grandfather was stationed in Chile during World War II" is not going to fly, and even if someone is not a history buff, when they ask you in which city he was stationed you will feel like a total idiot not being able to name one city from that particular country. Also, whatever you do, please don't respond with "I like your team's colors".




Going all the way

Do: If your newly adopted team does well, that's great! Go out and celebrate, have fun. Telling people about your love for this new team of yours is also OK, and hopefully after you've done your research you kind of have an idea of what the expectations are of the team, and how far into the tournament they will most likely get. Of course, there are shock results and almost anything is possibly, but nonetheless, someone who knows the game should be able to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic goals.

Don't: Just because you jumped on the Costa Rican wagon because they've had some real nice results, please don't come up to me and say something like "Costa Rica will win the whole thing, watch." I absolutely hate when people do that, because even if you ask the Ticos themselves, they will tell you that they are already very happy to be where they are and that they are not expecting to win the World Cup. Especially don't argue about that with someone who's from Costa Rica because even though you may think you are giving their team and country a compliment, you are actually borderline mocking them and that's a great way to get yourself a black-eye.


Stay a fan

Do: You've done your research, you've met the people, why not stay a fan now? Maybe the team you picked won't even make it to the next World Cup, but there's no reason why you can't keep following them. Watch their qualifying matches, their continental championship (i.e African Cup of Nations, Copa America etc.,) and maybe even take a look at the country's domestic league. The next time you step into a bar that is native to that country, you will look like a genius and will probably make some good new friends.

Don't: Nothing pisses me off more than the "jumper" who jumps off the wagon as soon as the team is out. Or even worse, the following tournament, after "supporting" the team for two or four years, and then dropping them as a favorite because they had an early exit. We see this all the time, with Spain this year and France and Italy in previous years as well. Stick to one team! I can't see how one can jump from supporting Spain and even know the name of 1-3 players, to all of a sudden waving a German flag as if they were born and raised in Berlin.



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