“It’s not you, it’s me. You deserve so much better.”
That’s what my football team said to me last year….and my baseball team…..and basketball….and so on. Being a sports fan is extremely similar to being in a bad relationship. There are extreme highs and lows, you shout, you scream and you throw things. You repeatedly say you are done and you deserve better but yet you keep going back for more. Why do we do this to ourselves? Are we all just a little sadistic in the way we like to be treated in life???
No matter what sport you are into, each season we eagerly make our way through the turnstiles, ticket scanners and, now, metal detectors to see our teams start afresh. Our ol’ faithful that is there for us when we need them and reliable year after year…..well…reliable to begin a season, maybe not to actually show up mentally in the games. Many times by the end of the season, we feel like we have been dragged through the dirt and put through the ringer with our team. We try every superstition we can think of and sometimes nothing seems to work. Year after year, we go home broken hearted and saying “wait till next year” but what if that next year isn’t better than the last? Or what if we are the Pirates (no offense to any of their fans!) and terrible for 20 years, putting us into a completely different generational gap? As fans, we go home broken hearted from sports more often than not and we dwell in our pain of the season but is it just us or is it the athletes too? In this day in age, there are so many ways to keep tabs on your favorite athletes with the internet and social media. We can see through a multitude of ways that are favorite athlete on our team jetted off to Cabo with friends a few days after we left the stadium in a mushy, 'turmoiled' mess because we missed the playoffs by “that much.” It makes you question how they can move on and get over things when you still feel like your soul has been ripped out. Did they even care? Did they even try? How can I be torn apart when they are working on their tan???
The ultimate truth is that athletes are human, just like you and me (unless you are a robot reading this then…well…I don’t know what to tell you). The game is their job. They train hard and sacrifice even when you don’t see it being posted on social media or caught on video by the news. They make personal sacrifices throughout the season and play hard whether it is win or lose. Some have more of the “heart of a champion” personality than others, just like I might be a bit more driven than someone else. That never means that anything should ever be taken away or lessened or viewed as not caring. If the internet didn’t exist then nobody would have ever even known that Tony Romo and Jason Witten jetted off to Mexico instead of cramming their brains with more play calls and routes. I am not saying I PERSONALLY think that was okay to do but I can understand how once it hits the media it is blown out of proportion. It is a feeling in relation to breaking up with someone and then getting on your choice of social media and seeing them tagged in photos looking rather chummy with someone you are certain is not just a friend. Without the powers that be of mass media, you would have never known anything happened and you would have never have been able to form your newly angered opinion of your team.
The secondary truth is that even though you are angry in the moment, you are as loyal as they come, and once the new season is upon you, you will be there pushing through the crowds once again, screaming until you are horse and sitting in the most interesting of superstitious positions to help be the home field advantage or sixth man on the court. You will forgive the athlete you felt hurt and betrayed by and will sport their jersey once again (no Lebron James comments on this one!). Why will you do this? Because you DO like it and maybe all sports fans are just slightly a bit twisted and sadistic. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong in that and sometimes, through the years of tears and anguish, the payoff happens and it wipes away any of the torment. After thousands of hours spent and invested in this relationship, you finally get YOUR ring….or ok ok I guess it can be the team gets THEIR ring and trophy. It might be 5, 10, or even 30 years but all of your dedication finally did it and it feels like the best day in the world. There is nothing like the thrill of fandom when things come together and deliver the ultimate payoff. We celebrate by buying our championship souvenirs (even after having free stuff thrown in our faces from the minute we walked in the door that night), and spend days chatting about it around the water cooler (let’s face it, Keurig) for a few days and everybody is envious that you checked in on social media that you were in attendance of this amazing victory (they wouldn’t be envious if they saw your bank account).
Admit it, you felt the fandom rush just by even the thought of the last part of that paragraph happening to you (it’s ok, I won’t tell). Fandom is like none other. It is a global awakening of the senses. Besides math, the one thing that the world has in common is sports and their love and thrill of the game. As a sports lover, I see the true beauty in that, despite the years of pain I consistently put myself through.
A Fan’s Emotional Torment