“People say alcoholism is genetic. So is sports fandom. The issues really start when the member of your family from which it originates denies it.”- A Raiders fan
*Before you read this, you might as well know the teams that have been consistently worsening the quality of my life: The Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Lakers, and Anaheim Ducks. At least I don’t have a baseball team to ruin my Octobers.*
When I was in college, I had my teams, I ate chicken wings, I enjoyed having sports on TV whenever possible, it’s just that the results meant significantly less to me. This is mostly because back then there was an absurd amount of stuff going on around me at all times. I was distracted by day parties, fraternity events, finals, late afternoon parties, group projects, charity events, night parties; I had just so many places I needed to throw up. But then I graduated, and there was way less arbitrary shit to overinflate for meaning, so in my desperation I turned to the most arbitrary bullshit of all, sports.
So I started caring about large men trying to break each other for money, and it was pretty good for a while. But supporting any franchise is much like eating a McNugget, it’s pretty alright if you don’t think about it too hard. But I’ve thought about it too hard, and it’s fast become apparent that I quietly ruined my own life.
Over time I came to realize…
If you aint first, you’re last
The above phrase is something I’ve heard thousands of times in my life, most often from one dude to another after he has just crushed him in a one-on-one drinking contest. It was originally uttered by a redneck straight out of a racecar, and was basically meant to be a comment on the worst of us, blasting the kind of people who think winning in sports is the only way to amount to anything in life. But here’s the problem there, we are all the worst of us.
Consider this: Only one team a year is allowed to win the championship, a number I would argue is less than thirty. This means that somewhere between twenty nine and thirty one teams (depending on the sport that’s giving you an aneurysm) are on the sliding scale of loserdom. This includes perhaps the biggest loser of them all: the runner up. Quite frankly, it’s hard to tell which is worse, coming within a hair’s breadth of winning it all or comfortably sucking for an entire season. At least one of those comes with a draft pick.
Don’t agree with this point? Then let me query you the following: Are you a Golden state fan? How does that record-breaking year feel? Does that season feel like a real season? Are you sure? Wouldn’t change anything?
Well, perhaps you’re a fan of the Seahawks? I bet it felt great to have held the Patriots, Super Bowl 49 Champions, to such a close game. Last second interception? What a game! I could ask more rhetorical questions like the bitter dick that I am, but I think you see where I’m coming from. Saying ‘I’m proud of how far we got’ after being eliminated feels like spitting out a mouthful of thumb tacks.
But let’s say your team defies the numbers and does win the sportball championship. What do you get personally? Maybe you’ve won a single night of careless sex with someone in a matching jersey. Maybe somebody at the bar buys a round for you. Maybe you earn the right to buy that sweet, sweet commemorative ‘Sportwinners 2016’ shirt from footlocker. I wouldn’t know, none of my teams have won a ‘ship since I started drinking. The greatest gift I can think of, though, is getting to hear the words “Defending sportball champions” uttered before your team’s name in every broadcast. Tight.
But maybe you like to think in hypotheticals and talk about what might have been. And that’s great because…
‘What if’ doesn’t mean shit
Boy things would have been great if you had drafted someone else in ’06, or the ref had felt differently about that penalty, or your receiver, Tall Manguy, had caught the ball. But none of that happened, so shut the fuck up about it.
There is no point in worrying about playoff placement
Every year around the playoffs I can be found in sports bars. This is also true during the times of year where no sports at all are being played, but the point is that I overhear a lot of sport fans talking. Right before the playoffs particularly one subject always comes up: bracketology. Guys are always discussing their current records and who that means they’ll be up against on their way to the championship.
I’m guilty of this myself. When the ducks were seeded number one in the Pacific I got genuinely excited that we were going to play an ‘easy’ opponent in the first round. My hopes for a potential Stanley cup were high, but then I had two thoughts:
1: Why am I excited about our seeding in the playoffs? This pile of Swedish opioid addicts is just going to let me down again.
2: Who gives a shit what this team of Swedish opioid addicts are seeded, they still have to beat four teams to win the cup.
We lost a fourth consecutive game 7 at home.
Failure aside, that second one is the most important thing to note here. And yes, I understand that you want to face easily beatable teams so your guys get less banged up and have more days of rest on their way to the top. And yes, I understand the value of home team advantage (no, I really don’t). Here’s the thing, though, if the only positive outcome of a season is to win it all then why the fuck does it matter who you have to play? Your team still has to be better at sportsing than all the other teams. Three junior-high-level opponents on the way to face the Monstars is still a rather shitty proposition.
Really what you’re doing when you think about brackets is complex internal mathematics to calculate how long it’s going to be until you have to be depressed again. The answer is always sooner than you think.
Speaking of things that should make you sad…
Nobody on your team gives a fuck about you
For those of you who devote memory space to things other than NFL games, the Minnesota Vikings had a rather rough playoff exit this year. After a fierce defensive battle, in the frigid cold, the kicker missed a short field goal that would have easily won them the game.
After that ball went wide left, I went immediately upstairs to try to get some kind of work done. I figured I might as well do something to counterbalance to three-plus hours of my life I just shoveled into the void. But I couldn’t work, I just stared at the screen feeling despondent. After all, my team could no longer win the big important sports match. After a while though, that sorrow turned into venomous anger at myself, because of one important fact: The Minnesota Vikings franchise would neither know nor care if I got levelled by a semi-truck.
Teddy Bridgewater (the QB) has never once called me to ask if I need new color pencils. Don’t get me wrong, Teddy seems like a nice enough guy, but he’s too busy sportsing in another state. He doesn’t have any reason to know how I get tired of scribbling everything in blue and red. Not a single member of that team does, so why is it that I let the failure of that group of humans to bring a spheroid shape across a line affect me emotionally?
Is it true that some of them genuinely mean it when they thank their fans in press conferences? Absolutely. But while you are investing emotional effort into the sweaty machinations of a bunch of human behemoths they’re devoting their emotional focus on something else. Most likely trying to finagle a blowjob in an Escalade behind a Fleming’s steakhouse.
Being a fan of a team is like being in an extremely unrewarding relationship. Why? If you were with a person and you cited last good time you had with them to be in the eighties, people would tell you to break up immediately and move on with your life because you are killing yourself.
But that’s okay, even if they did meet you in person, odds are pretty good that you wouldn’t get along with them, because…
They are professional murder clowns
Let’s get one thing straight right of the bat. These people are professional athletes and nothing else. They don’t owe you fuck.
And yet somehow, people believe that because they’ve sunk time into watching these humans do their job they should get something back from them in return: off-field decorum, loyalty, points, effort, wins. This is very much not the case, and to expect otherwise is a mark against you, not them. I expect my athletes to do one thing and one thing only, sports better than I could. Anything else is a pleasant surprise. The list of things I don’t expect them to do includes, but is not limited to: be moral paragons, not hit their significant others, be respectful on field, not carry guns in public places, not do drugs (all kinds), and, most importantly, be intelligent. All these men have had to do most of their lives is take a piece of inflated rubber to the score-place while other large men are trying to keep them from putting the piece of inflated rubber into the score-place. Why do we suddenly expect them to be anything other than an athlete just because we now rely on their prowess?
Nothing in their expensive contracts says they have to be angelic beacons of humanity, just that they not burn down Philadelphia. Nobody is requiring them to kiss the cancer babies, somebody IS however demanding them to knock the fillings out of somebody’s skull. And it’s true, there are several players who truly feel the need to visit children’s hospitals and kiss the cancer babies and hand out the Christmas toys and visit the veterans, but I can count those dudes on one hand. Plus there’s the fact that most team members show up to the charity events out of a team obligation. For every Russell Wilson there are two Greg Hardys and fifteen people you will never hear of. Those benevolent few do not outweigh the quantity of players who are currently awaiting the results on a paternity test with their fingers crossed.
(On a sidenote, Antonio Rogers Chromartie has 12 kids with five women. He pays over three hundred grand in Child support a year. Fuck.)
Team loyalty, for reasons unknown, is another thing people also expect from their superstars. As if to say, “we payed you millions of dollars and cheered for you when you won our team games, doesn’t that count for anything?” You know what other team could give them millions of moneydollars and a borderline homicidal fanbase like yours? Any team in the league. Literally any of the other 29+ teams in your league. These men are sports mercenaries, not Papal candidates. Where they move with their family, their fifteen cars, and their highly illegal pet orangutan, is up to nobody but them and their agent. You factor in nowhere.
It’s fine, if your team has rostered up more felons than The Whole Nine Yards, in the end it all balances out, because…
You are supporting the Great Satan anyway
I suppose I should clarify this, even if your specific franchise is alright, your league is probably the Great Satan. This is mostly true for one league more than others, but you’d be high off your ass if you didn’t suspect your specific team’s legal staff of sweeping a truly impressive array of felonies and bastard children under the PR rug. You have to imagine that for every major case about a superstar hitting his wife, there are 4 stories about second stringers driving drunk or flashing a gun in a TGIFridays. But hey, who cares as long as they’re able to hide it from you, the fan? Also them, the federal government.
Let’s indulge our hatred sweet tooth here and dive into a full on dessert buffet: the NFL. Ignoring the case-by-case fact that the league gainfully employs spiteful shitheads (a statistical inevitability anywhere) there are still 2 pretty solid evils that the NFL has been going out of their way to continually commit. The first, and the one that most people know, is that the league has been ignoring concussion reports and denying outright facts, thus expediting the process by which independent men become pants-shitting vegetables. Something that sadly benefits the viewers as much as the league owners. You know a situation is pretty fucked up when they have to make a Will Smith movie about it and people don’t bother to see it.
The second thing that comes to mind is their treatment of the US military. Oftentimes before a game you’ll see an NFL team honor some veterans publicly, which should warm your heart. What should not warm you is the fact the NFL was the only League to charge the US military for the right to do this to the tune of at least five million dollars annually. That’s a pretty counterintuitive act of douchebaggery considering Football and Patriotism seem to go together like chewing tobacco and jaw cancer. And the hell of it is, no matter what jersey you drunkenly buy off the internet some of your money goes toward supporting this behavior.
But that’s an essential part of the American lifespan anyway, comfortably enhancing your life with the underlying knowledge that your pleasure is slowly eroding the world in which we live. Like iPhones made in sweatshops, jewelry mined by children, oil that’s corrupting drinking water elsewhere, y’know, bald eagle stuff. You support evil every day, so at this point it’s nice to know we’re complicit in some good ol’ fashioned American suffering as we nap atop our sofa of third world skulls.
Shit, that was dark. I’m sorry. Here’s a picture I drew of North American Pine Marten playing with a beer bottle.
All of the above pales in comparison to the most disturbing fact of all…
You need that shit in your life
Let’s not sugar coat it, you probably realized all the things written above a long time ago. It’s evil, it’s raising your blood pressure, it won’t come back to benefit you anytime, and you need it like Tila Tequila needs a muzzle. Yet somehow you cannot wait for the next season of sportball to kick you firmly in the groin. You can probably picture yourself hunched over the bar looking into the amber remnants of a shot of Jack Daniel’s after your team has just been eliminated and you are still PUMPED for opening day. It doesn’t even matter that the promise of a new season will slowly but surely morph into the pitch black ooze of failure right before your eyes, because despite everything, you crave the torture.
You sicken me, you fucking masochist.
Yo, save me a seat, though.