Monday, January 4, 2010

The Unexplainable Emotions of Being a Fan

Regular readers of this blog know Champ and I aren't young men anymore. We've spent more than three decades living and dying with the fortunes of the teams we love. After all this time, you'd think it would be easy to compartmentalize the success and failures of the teams we devote so much of our time watching and writing about. You'd think.

I've been a Philadelphia Eagles fan since I was three years old and my mom took me to Philly to visit my great grandmother. You don't always make the best decisions at three years of age. But I got hooked early have stuck with the Eagles ever since. To be fair, if I hadn't become a diehard Eagles fan there's a good chance my allegiance would have went to the Bills -- so I was f*cked from birth.

The Eagles got pasted by the Cowboys today. The loss was crushing on a number of levels. First, it was to the hated Cowboys. A team lead by a circus clown named Jerry Jones and coached by a court jester named Wade Phillips. Second, it exposed a whole host of flaws the Eagles had been hiding during their 6 game win streak. And third, it made any road to the SuperBowl 10 times more daunting.

Instead of a bye week, followed by a home game and then a potential NFC Championship game, the Eagles are looking at a road game against a team that just shut them out, a trip to the Superdome to face a rested Saints team, and then most likely a trip to the Metrodome against the Vikings. In other words, there's always next year.

For Eagles fans it's a familiar refrain. 10 years of Andy Reid have brought consistent success, but no titles. The Reid era has delivered heightened expectations and regular season success, but come up empty in bringing home a SuperBowl. Being an Eagle fan feels like being perpetually trapped in the Champagne room - you're excited, but you know there's not going to be any sex. (Note - attempt to have sex with strippers at your own risk, it's not something we're going to endorse here, however strippers and porn stars work great for metaphors)

So after a loss like the one to the Cowboys, a crushing one, what do I do? Why spend hours on the internet, reading a million different accounts of the game for a million different perspectives. I think about the failures. I wallow in the loss. I assign blame. I read other accounts that assign blame. I assign more blame. I punch the family cat. I convince myself the game was a fluke. Only one of these things isn't true.

If the Eagles had won, would I have done this? Of course not. But for some reason, when things go bad, that's when I expend the most mental energy. That's when I spend hours wondering if Sean McDermott knows what he's doing. When SU loses, I wonder why Arinze can't get a little nastier under the boards, or why Andy Rautins is suddenly shooting like a blind paraplegic. I write scathing posts on this site, complaining about everything under the sun.

I don't think I'm alone. Message boards and blogs bustle with activity after losses, yet are relatively quiet after wins. I've spent some time thinking about why, and the only answer I can come up with is that as sports fans, we love pain. We are masochists. Most of us are certifiable. Otherwise we'd spend our weekends watching Ina Garten make profiteroles. If you've ever had a profiterole, you'd know there's no losers when profiteroles are involved. Those things are ridiculously fantastic.

Yet instead we watch sports and get ourselves all twisted doing it. Think about it, there's no rational reason to root for the Cubs, go to Browns game, or spend more than two minutes even thinking about the New Jersey Nets. Yet we do it, every day.

So talk to me idiot readers - why do root for these teams - and what's your reaction to a bad, bad loss?


AJV said...

We root for these teams because of days like April 7, 2003. All the frustration, anger and disappointment just make that one time to say, "hey, we're the best" that much more gratifying.

I LOVE the Yankees, don't get me wrong, but its more fun to root for the Bills or SU.

Hopefully (baring a move)and while I'm alive The Bills will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Niagara Square, and I'll be there and all the years of sadness will fade away... that is until they lose for the first time the following year.

Anonymous said...

Great post as ever Neph!We are indeed masochists. As I mentioned before, the Eagles played like my Giants(Didn't show up). As a long suffering fan of the Reds "I feel your pain." The '70's and 1990 were great though. At least in baseball there is almost always a game the next day. Even when they are losing(see last 9 years)I have a train-wreck type facination with them-Just part of being a fan. Keep postin' Uncle dave