Carolina Panthers bandwagon fans are the topic of many social media debates now. Many people call these Carolina Panthers fans part of the “bandwagon” because they did not support the team through a string of rough years in the NFC South. But is it such a bad thing for NFL teams to have bandwagon fans? An NFL attendance report was just released by ESPN for the 2015 season, depicting the attendance numbers at home and on the road for all 32 NFL teams.
The report shows that the Panthers averaged 74,056 fans at home games this season and 70,654 fans on road games. That places the team eighth overall in home attendance, ninth in road attendance, and fifth overall when the two numbers are combined. It continues a trend of the Panthers selling out or getting close to selling out every game it plays. This isn’t a new trend either, as Panthers fans have been selling out home games for years. So where does the “bandwagon fan” term even come from?
This is a similar situation to what the Seattle Seahawks went through, as the team has one of the longest home sellout streaks in the NFL. This dates back to the first game played at CenturyLink Field and didn’t just start when Russell Wilson took the field for the first time. That streak is longer than every NFL team not playing at Lambeau Field. Still, social media has taken to calling many Seahawks supporters bandwagon fans when it comes to NFL debates.
Most teams have a dedicated fan base that turns out for the wins and losses. There are teams that do struggle to draw fans, including the former St. Louis Rams, former Oakland Raiders, and the Detroit Lions, but even those teams see an increase in support when the team is winning. What changes from year to year is how many fans on the peripheral decide to start cheering for a new team. The team at the head of that list has become the Carolina Panthers in 2015, leading to the claim that they have so many bandwagon fans.
So, are the Carolina Panthers bandwagon fans a problem? The short answer is that an increased number of fans bumps up the value of the team and the benefits that every fan of the team gets to enjoy. A team flush with fans is typically also flush with money, creating a situation where the die-hard fans get to see the added benefits as well. More nationally televised games in primetime, more national news coverage, and more time on sport show highlight reels comes with the territory. In Charlotte, it even turned local media people into supporters of the Panthers.
Why is the term “bandwagon fans” only used in sports though? The Shawshank Redemption made just over $28 million during its theatrical run, but through secondary viewings on television, has become one of the most well-liked movies in the last 20 years. During the first season of The Walking Dead, AMC averaged 5.24 million viewers per episode. The season 5 premiere drew 17.3 million viewers and a successive episode brought in more than 20 million viewers. Are new fans of The Walking Dead considered bandwagon fans for watching only after it became successful?
New fans of a television show keep it on the air. Look no further than Family Guy, which got canceled by FOX, but was brought back after more fans were generated by Cartoon Network. Any team that finds success in professional sports is going to draw more attention. That attention then draws more fans, helping aid in the success of that franchise. While there are claims of many new Carolina Panthers bandwagon fans, supporters of the team should brush it off as something every successful team in the history of sports has already experienced.
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