Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blog Bat-Around: How Do You Deal With Sports Disaster?

It's time to get the Blog Bat-Around started. If you still want to get in, check out the official topic guidelines here. It's never too late to send me your article.

Here's what I've gotten back so far. Go check them out.
Baseball Cards Come to Life!: Even New York fans suffer sometimes.
Shot Not Taken: Well, all the time if you're a Mets fan.
White Sox Cards: A baseball fan's darkest day.

And, of course, Thorzul's mammoth entry. (Nothing to be proud of here, kids.)

At times, being a sports fan feels like being a member of the Royal Tenenbaums, finding yourself in the midst of "two decades of betrayal, failure, and disaster." The true measure of a man might be how he reacts to these failures, but you must also make sure to give him plenty of leeway when those failures happen so gosh-danged often. Here is as complete record of these reactions as I am able to share.

My initial brush with sporting disaster came at a very tender age. I believe I am able to pinpoint the date as February 15, 1986. My cousin Tom was in his first year at the University of Wisconsin, where he was recruited to join the men's basketball team. The entire extended family made a weekend trip centering around the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini. I remember little of the game, but I do recall shedding a tear or two following the Badgers' 82-74 loss. The scope of the game's importance became greater since I was in attendance. Dammit, we even got a hotel room, so this must be big. I probably recovered from the crushing defeat in under five minuted, but the tone had been set for decades of famdom.

For nearly the next fifteen years, I remained the calm observer of ineptitude. My teams were never really any good, and no importance could be attached to any single game. Absorbing defeat after defeat for my Brewers, Packers, Bucks, Badgers, and Warriors did little to change my steely exterior; all of the damage, however, was being done on the inside.

There were a few instances where the pot threatened to boil over, though it never came to this. My 1997 Packers' Super Bowl victory softened the blow for their 1998 defeat at the hands of John Elway's Denver Broncos. On that January evening I just walked back to my dorm room, sullen. I should have known what was to come, seeing as my roommate was actually vomiting during Super Bowl XXXII because of nerves.

Up until that point, the most crushing defeat didn't even involve my team. I was saddened at the Packers' failure to make the 1989 playoffs because of the outcome of the final Monday Night Football game, but heck, I was just happy to be allowed to stay up for the end of the game.

Let's get into the real tales of despair. I'll provide dates whenever possible.

Date: May 25, 2000
Situation: The Wisconsin Badgers WIN their game against the Purdue Boilermakers in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, 64-60.
Reaction: When it looked like the Badgers might cough up this game late, thereby botching their one chance to make it to the Final Four, especially against an in-conference rival, the pressure got to me. During a particularly awful series of possessions, I kicked a hole in the wall of my off-campus Madison apartment. Cooler heads prevailed as the Badgers eventually won.
Fallout: The hole soon got patched with tape, glue and, yes, white card stock. The damaged section blended in well enough with the rest of the apartment's condition that it apparently went unnoticed by the property managers. My roommate and I received our security deposit in full.

Date: January 20, 2002
Situation: My Green Bay Packers get absolutely annihilated by the St. Louis Rams in an NFC divisional playoff game, 45-17.
Reaction: Once it became clear that the point of no return had been reached, a Doc Marten's shoe got tossed into the wall above the couch. A sizable hole was created.
Fallout: My roommate and I failed to receive our entire security deposit, but only because (as indicated by the landlord) the oven was not cleaned before leaving the premises. No mention of the poorly patched drywall. Buying a patching kit paid off in this instance.

Date: Some Fall Sunday, Somewhere Between 2002 and 2005
Situation: The Packers look awful in a regular season loss to the hated Vikings.
Reaction: The red Wisconsin Badgers baseball cap I wore almost constantly during those years gets tossed against a section of wall above a between-rooms doorway. This leaves a reddish streak on the white wall.
Fallout: Visitors to my apartment often inquired about the strange red marks above the door, too high to be blood, much too high to be red crayon. I had no idea a hat could leave a stain like that. Some mini-blinds also got damaged. Some clear Scotch tape remedied that.

Date: January 11, 2004
Situation: 4th and 26
Reaction: The kitchen could have been mistaken for an outsider art exhibit on broken glass bottles.
Fallout: None. That game was incredibly nerve-wracking up until the fateful play that I didn't even have any energy left to yell when Mitchell caught the ball, or even later when Favre threw the interception in OT. I was already numb, waiting for the eventual defeat to come.

Date: October 7, 2007
Situation: The Packers lose a MNF game to the Chicago Bears, 27-20.
Reaction: At the conclusion of this five-turnover night, an oscillating fan gets kicked. The cage covering the blades gets separated, dented.
Fallout: The fan is still in operation, but when turned on, the start-up revolutions cause the fan blades to make contact with the cage until the motor gets up to speed. Otherwise fully operational.

Date: January 20, 2008
Situation: The Packers lose the NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants in overtime, 23-20.
Reaction: At the game's conclusion, one empty beer bottle sitting on the coffee table gets hit with another empty beer bottle, sending a shower of glass in the general direction of the 60-inch television.
Fallout: The TV emerges unscathed. Glass is found three months later when we move out of the last apartment and into our first house. Brett Favre never plays another game for the Packers. I feel partially responsible for his departure.

Since that loss at Lambeau field, I have exercised greater restraint when dealing with sports failure. Ironically, the better my team is, the more severely I deal with defeat. During last year's playoff run by the Brewers, curses were yelled, but nothing was destroyed. As the ship started to sink against the Phillies, I took a short walk outside, then returned to cheer on my team, choosing to focus on the positives of the season. Perhaps change is in the air.

1 comment:

White Sox Cards said...

4 entries? That's it??!! For shame blogging community! I applaud the other three who responded.

Let's hope there are a flurry of last minute entries for this intriguing topic.

Maybe everyone else is ashamed of their behavior when their teams lose.