I love the Bay Area, we are the hub of progressive values, great food and beautiful weather (Unless you live in the Richmond district of San Francisco). The Bay Area is also known for its historic sports franchises; from the Say Hey Kid Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants to the Mad Bomber Daryle Lamonica and the Oakland Raiders. I’m sure back in the good old days there was a friendly East Bay-West Bay (San Francisco and Peninsula) rivalry between the die-hard fans on both ends of the Bay Bridge. Unfortunately, the San Francisco fan base has been diluted and polluted with a plethora of bandwagon fans who call themselves the “faithful” and “melk man” all while wearing their panda hats and freshly purchased gas station Kaepernick T-shirt jersey.
I have seen firsthand how the growing gang of hipsters and yuppies have joined the ever growing bandwagon of the Giants and 49ers. It seems like just yesterday that mobs of wealthy college kids from Orange County and the Pacific Northwest had a bon fire at the University of San Francisco to celebrate their “hometown” San Francisco Giants World Series win. They were soon joined by their pot smoking Toms shoes wearing brethren from around the Bay Area to honor Tim Lincecum and the rest of the San Francisco Giants at the World Series parade. The same fanbase that called East Bay fans thugs and lowlifes were now rioting and burning down the freshly gentrified Mission District and MUNI buses. Where were all these Giants “fans” when Robbie Thompson and Will Clark were playing at the Stick?
To my dismay, the San Francisco Giants World Series run and the throngs of bandwagon fans that followed would soon be eclipsed by the rise of the “faithful”. For nearly a decade both Bay Area football franchises had hit rock bottom as jokesters like Mike Singletary, Lane Kiffin, Dennis Erickson, Art Shell, Bill Callahan and Terry Donaghue had led both teams into the gutter. While Raiders fans were still acting like the loud and proud fans that personifies the Raider Nation, you could hardly hear a peep from anybody but the die-hard 49ers fans.
The tipping point for San Francisco 49ers bandwagonism came during the 49ers remarkable upset victory over the New Orleans Saints. For these brand new “die-hard” fans, Alex Smith was the next Joe Montana as his awful history had no precedence in their football history. When San Jose native Kyle Williams fumbled away the 49ers chance to make the Super Bowl, these fans writhed in pain like a Spanish soccer player on the pitch.
Of course these new 49ers fans had no idea what free agency or the draft was but they soon donned their freshly bought gas station 49ers gear as the season got into full swing. Soon Colin Kaepernick became the flavor of the month(Glutten free, organic freshly made flavor mind you) and Alex Smith became a martyr after he lost his job. When the San Francisco 49ers lost the Super Bowl, the Oakland Raiders trended on twitter because the PBR induced drunk tweets of 49ers fans commenced. Even today you will see the 49ers new throngs of fans “watching” the games while indulging in “Sunday funday” mimosas at a local Marina bar that has a 15 inch TV.
What made the rise of the “faithful” so infuriating was the incompetent smack talk that came from their mouths. I could take the “Al Davis is a crypt keeper” or “JaMarcus Russell” shots all day but the “Raiders Suck” remarks just wouldn’t do. It is frustrating to hear smack talk that is as eloquent as Frank Gore during pregame introductions. There is nothing worse than having to deal with a mob of bandwagon fans trying to insult a fan base that has been repping their team through the thick and thin.
I blame the fall of San Francisco sports fans on the throngs of young hipsters who have moved to the Bay Area. These fans have tarnished the great legacy of Bay Area fandom. My great joy of the Golden State Warriors success last year was soon replaced with gloom as new Stephen Curry jerseys were popping up all over the city. The empty BART trains that would usually take me back to San Francisco after leaving Oracle arena were soon replaced by rambunctious trains packed with fans yelling “whose got it better than us” chants by fans who probably forgot what sport they were watching.
The once great culture of Bay Area fandom has now turned into the great divide of cultures. The Raider Nation and the green and gold fanatics are still out there putting their heart and soul on the line for their beloved Oakland franchises. While AT&T Park and Candlestick has been diluted with the fair-weather fans of San Francisco.
Malk was born and raised in the Bay Area. He likes to enjoy his Sunday’s watching football and drinking beer.