Warning: Rooting for a Team Can Become Habit-Forming
I have a confession: I root for a lousy football team.
Who they are is not important. It doesn’t and won’t change the way you feel about me. Chances are, simply by revealing this bit of information, you feel sorry for me. You’ve instantly developed some pathos. And even more chances are that you can relate. You’re currently nodding your head, muttering, “Yeah, me too. I feel ya, brother. Preach it.”
And yet, we root on, don’t we? We dare not look away. Is that because we’re gluttons for punishment? Is it because some kind of archaic family tradition? Or is it because we honestly, truly believe things are gonna get better. No, wait – I said “honestly, truly.” Really? Seriously? Knowing what you know, seeing what you’ve seen, you honestly, truly think things are gonna get better for your team?
“But there was that one time. They were good! Almost. They almost won it all. If it weren’t for those stupid refs! And that stupid Tom Brady!”
Yeah, when in doubt, blame it on the officiating or a future Hall-of-Famer for ruining your team’s chances of being good. That one time.
As a new NFL off-season cranks into gear, even though I know where my team stands, even though I know how things are gonna turn out in about 9-10 months, I still tend to perk up when I see my team’s intentions mentioned on Joe Twit’s Mock Draft, version 2.7. I nod knowingly when I hear that a certain player has willingly re-structured his contract -- “willingly” is, of course, defined as “received a hefty bonus that is more than I make in six years combined” -- so the team has more cap space.
And this is exactly how the NFL -- and my team -- wants it. They want you to keep coming back for more. They want you to forget about how your team finished last year and find some kind of false optimism for next season.
I’ll tell you what I should find – another hobby!
I look at my team and its players with a mixture of pity and disgust. All that sweat, all those hours of practice and learning the playbook and learning each other’s names … all for nothing. Do they really care? Are they really loyal? Or do they all wish they were somewhere else?
I suppose with as much money as is riding on it, it’s easy to be loyal. But then, they don’t root with their hearts the way we fans do. Maybe this is the year I make a stand! Maybe now I’m finally old enough and wise enough to turn away. Maybe if someone keeps getting wounded in the same place over and over again, it becomes impossible for the scar to heal! And maybe if they just get a good left tackle through free agency or the draft, we’ll get to the promised land!
Aaaach! Damn you, NFL! You win again.