Double Teamed: A sports fan’s circle of life

October 13, 2011

After the Yankees crushed the Tigers last week to tie the American League Divisional Series at two games apiece, my friends and I bought tickets to game five in New York on the spur of the moment.

As seniors, we didn’t care if we were going to miss a class or two. We thought was going to be one of those things where we would look back in 10 years and say, “that was one of the greatest decisions we ever made.”

Walking into Yankee Stadium that chilly fall night was one of the coolest feelings I’ve had in a long time as a sports fan. Three hours later, my friends and I were slouched over in our seats, having just witnessed the brutal and humiliating destruction of the 2011 Yankees. It felt like it was over before it started. We sat on a bus four hours each way to witness a bitter defeat.

That’s the life of a dedicated sports fan. Any die-hard will agree that sports provide the highest of highs and lowest of lows, emotionally. Nothing is worse than the gut-punching feeling of watching your team’s season end.

Sadly, this happens a lot more than seeing your team win the ultimate prize, which is the only way a season can end in a positive way. While everyone competes to win, almost everyone loses.

Yet, there are no moral victories for a real fan. It is always painful when your team doesn’t win the last game of the season. In baseball, 29 out of 30 times you will have that feeling. It’s even worse in the NFL.

So why do people keep following their teams if they’re constantly being let down? One reason is hope. Just ask any Cubs fan what their favorite phrase is. “There’s always next year,” they’ll say with a half-frown.

Fortunately, the pain we feel from the “death” of our team’s season is numbed by the other sports and other teams that we follow. When one team gets us down, another rises to the occasion, allowing our fandom to continuously renew itself.

The day after the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason, the New York Rangers kicked off the NHL season in Sweden. As my hopes for the Yankees died, the Rangers were my sports fan’s ‘rebirth.’

It is a process I have endured many times over the years. I was still reeling from what had happened the previous night, but now I had a new reason to look up.

Even though the calendar said October, fall had just become winter for me. The NHL season was underway and the Rangers have a great chance to go all the way. It’s rare for the overlap to happen so perfectly, but every once in a while it will.

So it might seem like the odds are stacked against us as sports fans, but in reality there is never a true end. There’s no break in the calendar. Unless you only like basketball and hockey, there is always a team to attach your hope to.

Well, maybe not if you  live in Cleveland–there isn’t any hope there.

There is only so long a fan can complain about their team’s elimination. Every death means new life.

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