Pop Culture dictionary

bandwagon fan

[band-wag-uhn fan]

What does bandwagon fan mean?

There are diehard fans, and then there are bandwagon fans. Bandwagon fans only show interest and support for a sports team based on recent successes or popularity, e.g., when their city’s football is going to or has won the Super Bowl.

Related words

G.O.A.T., transitive property, stan, Rookie of the Year, Trust the Process

Where does bandwagon fan come from?

Tom Hauck / Getty

Alas, we don’t have many real bandwagons anymore. But, in the 1800s, they were all the rage. Bandwagons were wagons that carried musicians and entertainers (i.e., bands) around in circus parades or to political rallies.

Circus Historical Society

By the late 1800s, getting (or jumping, climbing, etc.) on the bandwagon described, usually dismissively, joining a party, cause, or movement because of its mass appeal or strength, often to benefit from it. The original notion, apparently, is of wanting to join the winning side (band). Teddy Roosevelt notably used bandwagon fan in 1899.

Today, for instance, a company may be accused of jumping on the Gluten-free bandwagon if it’s perceived to attempt to profit from interest in gluten-free foods and diets (while lacking a genuine interest in gluten intolerance).

By at least 1991, we can find the term bandwagon fan in online message-boards for hockey fans. In contrast to fans who show up for their team win or lose, a bandwagon fan snubs people who to start follow or root for a particular sports team (they jump on the bandwagon) after they they start winning a lot of games and become more popular.

In 2019, for instance, people who celebrated the Toronto Raptors after the won the NBA finals for the first time in their history but had never shown prior interest (or knew anything about the team) were called bandwagon fans.

Psychologists refer to this phenomenon (in sports and elsewhere) as the bandwagon effect.


Examples of bandwagon fan

Your nothing but a troll, washed up, wanna be, never was, hockey player. Your a bandwagon fan. Your not a true fan. Your pathetic! [sic]
@Schnutz75, April 2019
Just merely mentioning the term bandwagon fan is enough to incite a riot amongst the die-hard contingent. Is the bandwagon fan truly a cancerous tumor within the Browns fanbase, or is it an advantageous means to an end?
Casey Kinnamon, FanSided, March 2019
A Series of Very Bad Decisions (blog)

Who uses bandwagon fan?

When a bandwagon fan, also called bandwagoner, jumps off the bandwagon, they can be called a fair-weather fan, i.e., losing interest when the team isn’t doing well.

Bandwagon fan is generally used as a mild insult, characterizing someone as liking a team just because it’s trendy and not being truly invested or knowledgeable about it.

While mainly used in sports, the phrase bandwagon fan can be found in other areas of fandom.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of bandwagon fan like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of bandwagon fan that will help our users expand their word mastery.