Generally speaking, I not a fan of sports. However, I am a huge waggonist when it comes to the big world sporting events, like World Cup and the Olympics.
“What’s a waggonist?” I hear my non-Jamaican readers asking.
In Jamaican parlance, a waggonist is someone who follows the crowd, just for the sake of the excitement that goes along with whatever the crowd is following at the moment. The term derives from the idea of jumping on a bandwagon.
For example, I do not watch football on TV. I don’t even watch the football report on the news. I don’t read the football fixture results in the newspaper or Google the latest news. I don’t keep up with it, I don’t know the latest happenings, I don’t know who’s playing for which team now, I don’t follow it like my life depends on it. Sure, every now and then I can be found in a stadium screaming and cheering with thousands of other spectators like I know what’s happening, but by no stretch of the imagination can I be called a fan.
However, every 4 years when World Cup fever hits, I’m all up in that. I’m watching the matches on TV with everybody else, I’m screaming at the top of my lungs with everybody else, I’m keeping track of quarter-final and semi-final fixtures and results with everybody else. The same is true for all other sports. I have no true love for any of them, just a passing interest that comes to the surface when the excitement level rises to manic levels.
I make no apologies for being a waggonist. It’s who I am. I accept that I have no real interest in sports and only become a fake fan when something phenomenal is unfolding. Who among us doesn’t like to get caught up in that fever? Who among us wants to feel left out of these momentous occasions? Who among us wants to purposely keep ourselves separate when excitement of this caliber is taking place? None of us, that’s who. It’s good, clean fun, is what it is, especially when we have skin in the game, like Jamaica always does in world-level track and field events.
Enter the 2016 Olympics in Rio. I freely admit that, other than Usain Bolt’s races, I basically have no idea what took place at the Olympics this year. Want to know why? Because nobody here in Indonesia seemed even remotely interested, that’s why.
There was no non-stop conversation and analysis about what happened over the 1 hour since we last checked standings. There were no TVs that were always on and set to whichever station was carrying the Olympics feed. There were no hasty reminders that an important heat or final was about to start. There was no gathering around the TV to watch in tense anticipation and trepidation as the high profile events took place. There was no air of excitement. There was nothing, absolutely nothing. It was as dead as the proverbial door nail. So what was the point of me watching for excitement’s sake when I would have been the only one excited? Where’s the fun in that?
I hear you saying, “Yes, Kristine, but if you really liked it, you would watch even though nobody else was watching where you are. Your country is big on the world stage when it comes to track events so you should keep up with that.” I hear you, but bear in mind that I’m a waggonist. I watch precisely because of the crowd’s excitement. If there’s no crowd-fueled excitement, I’m not watching.
However, I’m not a total lost cause. Over the duration of the Olympics, I had Google automatically updating me on my phone with the latest medal tally and event results. Also, my sister was good enough (also, crazy enough) to use her cell phone to record Usain’s races and Whatsapp them to me almost as soon as they were over. I must admit that her commentary was just as entertaining as the races; she’also a waggonist and watched with her friends, so the hilarity levels on the videos were pretty high. So here I sat in Jakarta, alone and watching my sister’s crazy Usain videos and I was proud of him, of course I was. But none of it was truly exciting.
Meanwhile, Google let me know that Indonesia won gold in badminton (it’s basically the national sport here, as well as volleyball), and silver and bronze in weightlifting. My students, who are Indonesian and live in Indonesia, didn’t even know that until I told them. See what I mean? Zero interest.
So this waggonist had a lukewarm Olympics this time around. I watched 3 races by Whatsapp (as a Jamaican, I should be ashamed to say that but I’m not, since I’m a waggonist and not a real fan) and kept abreast of the medal tally by Google. Maybe in 2 years when it’s time for World Cup again, the bandwagon will welcome me back. What am I saying? Of course it will, because the bandwagon is used to us waggonists. It is, after all, our favourite occasional hangout spot.