By: Scott Peterson – COMMUNICATION
One thing I noticed while watching the Super Bowl was that my friends and I were all wearing jerseys for teams that were not even playing in the game. Though we did this unintentionally, we all had the same reason: to support our teams. I had to ask, “Why are we supporting our teams today?” All we were doing was acknowledging the fact that our teams simply were not good enough to make it to the Super Bowl.
This begs the question: “Why are fans loyal to teams that are downright terrible?”
I am a proud and devoted fan of the Detroit Lions. Believe me, the struggle could not be more real. This roller coaster of emotions has shown me seasons of promise, and those in which my team could not even win one game. This past season I would consider one of promise, because the Lions made it to the playoffs: A feat that I thought was a sign of the apocalypse. My excitement wore thin when I saw a play that I could have never have imagined in my life: Pete Morelli, head referee in the Lions vs. Cowboys game, didn’t just put away the flag. He put away my Super Bowl dreams with it. It seems that the Lions have enough talent to raise their fans’ hopes only to let them down in the end.
This isn’t just an issue for Lions fans. It’s an issue for many other teams’ fans.
These teams usually bring excitement with the start of the season. We’ve all been there, anxiously awaiting the preseason with our newly obtained draft picks that showed promise and a wiser team that is ready to give it their all. Fans go nuts because their terrible team looked amazing in the preseason. I don’t care how many games the Lions, Browns, Rams, etcetera win in the preseason, these teams often get smacked with reality once the regular season starts. This, of course, will lead to denial and eventually acceptance once again that your team is dreadful. It’s this excitement at the beginning of the season that hooks skeptical fans.
Occasionally, your team will perform well enough to get a playoff spot. This is the Holy Grail for crappy teams. This playoff spot gives hope to fans, and allows them to think that they can now play with the big boys. Any frustrated Bengals fan will tell you that they do pretty well in the regular season only to choke in every playoff game.
Watching an NFL game is supposed to be an escape from your problems, not the bearer of new ones. I try to see it as comic relief. Every week, I sit for a good laugh with family and friends. We tune in to see how our team will mess up this time. Surprisingly, I love listening to other fans complain about how abysmal their team is and how they could improve. Fans who never see success find enjoyment in other areas.
Fans of all the doomed teams of the league are hopeless romantics. We cling to the hope that we can get better players or coaching staff. They always say, “Next year is our year.” This state of mind allows fans to leave a game disgruntled only to come back next Sunday for their weekly beating. When looking at these fans, it’s plain to see that it’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and still come out to watch the following week.
These fans truly know the meaning of hard work because nothing is handed to them. For fans of good teams, all I have to say is it isn’t hard to stay loyal when you win a Super Bowl every couple years. Walk a mile in our shoes. Stay loyal to your hometown team rather than riding the bandwagon. The bandwagon is the coward’s way out.
After everything is all said and done, I commend the fans of these losing teams. They love teams whose only expertise seems to be in mediocrity. They show true resilience because their loyalty is a one-way street. We support our teams and get no reward out of doing it, but we do get minor victories, comic relief, and a dream. They defy logic knowing that there is no better feeling than to see their team finally reign victorious. Even after the infamous picking up of the flag, I am still dedicated to my Lions. I will have time to sulk in my sadness, but next fall I will be eager to see every play. So here’s to you Detroit Lions, I will see you next year.