This past weekend was brutal for the sports fan in me. With the exception of The University of Utah basketball team defeating a lower tier UC Riverside, every squad I root for, college or professional, lost. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last. Caring about sports teams is risky stuff. Your heart gets tied up in the players and the program. Every win is great and every loss is devastating. If you are lucky, teams you like win more than they lose, but during those down times, when a favorite team is losing more than they win, things feel heavy and every sporting event carries an extra bit of drama.
When my teams lose I tell myself the same thing, You hate (insert sport). You always hated (insert sport). Be smart and never watch (insert sport) again. Which is an outright lie. If I hated it, I wouldn’t watch or care. I care a bit too much. In the hours after my team loses, I am not the most fun to be around. I pout and mope about, pondering all the what ifs. If it is a particularly ugly loss, I might not be right for a day or two.
That is unacceptable.
This past Saturday, I attended a football game at the U along with my siblings and some good friends. The Utes are having a good season, beating teams that have often owned our program, and competing in the games we have lost. Sadly, this particular outing did not go well for the Crimson. Arizona handily defeated us. The game was essentially over two minutes into the 4th quarter. The weather was awful, cold, rainy, windy. Add to that a severe beat down, and many fans left very early. Maybe it was the fact my team was never really in the game, or maybe I’d had enough of the negative things I was experiencing in the stadium around me, but I no longer wanted to feel angry or depressed for hours and hours about sporting events. I didn’t want to go home and be no fun to be around, annoying my kids and spouse. I didn’t want the rest of my weekend ruined by one event. I chose then to not let the sting of the loss linger. It worked. I instantly felt less bothered (by the loss at least, the fans on the other hand…), less grumpy and actually had some fun with my friends and family.
Maybe it was a cosmic test, as once I decided this, team after team on my list of favorites went down in bitter defeats. It was still frustrating, still annoying and still painful, but at least for one weekend, I did not give in. I was angry for a moment, let myself be angry, then let it slip away. You will have to ask my wife if I was any more fun to be around.
Here is a photo from the Utah game. Most everyone had left by this point, but the faithful remained. I can’t get behind a great deal of the behavior I saw at the stadium. People were screaming at fans of the other team, screaming at the players, screaming at each other. It was everything that is ugly and awful about sports. I was going to bring a friend of mine who doesn’t really like football, but does enjoy my company. I am grateful she was unable to attend as I would have been embarrassed by my fellow Utes.
These cruel and petty fans are of course the first ones out of the stadium when things don’t go their way. If nothing else, it confirmed what I already felt about most football fans. They need to grow up. Do better. I’m taking my own advice.