Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sports and Fan Disappointment - A Case Study in Suffering (and as a Red Sox Fan Now Living Near San Diego I Know What I'm Talking About)

We know the condition - Severe Utterly Frustrating Fan Eternity Realization Syndrome (SUFFERS). Those unfortunate enough to have grown up in Red Sox households are especially familiar. The acute version of the illness was the famous ball rolling through Bill Buckner’s legs during the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, which the Mets went on to win. The chronic version is coming to the realization that you are stuck for eternity in a perpetual groundhog day of Bill Buckner moments. Think Curse of the Bambino.

The photo here, from the San Diego Union Tribune, best illustrates “fan blues.” If you do not follow football, allow me to explain: Last Sunday, the local Chargers were heavily favored to defeat the New York Jets in a playoff game. As anyone living in Southern CA could tell you, this was the Chargers’ year. No question about it.

I’m a transplanted New Englander and therefore not a true Chargers fan, but having lived here for three years I got caught up in the moment. Of course the Chargers would win the Super Bowl, I figured. How could they not? Especially with my Patriots out of the playoffs. Okay, maybe the Colts would knock them out of contention and maybe the Packers or the Saints would teach them a lesson.

But the Jets? The pathetic New York Effin’ Jets? Ha! No way!

I will make this brief: The Chargers’ field goal kicker, Nate Kaeding, missed three field goals (three fuckin’ field goals!!!) two from very close range. In one of the attempts, the camera covering the ball’s flight path actually swung over to a different section of the stands where the ball presumably landed. The goal posts were nowhere in the frame.

That summed up the whole day.

According to figures that I am making up as I am going along, there were more reported cases of depression in San Diego the ensuing week than there were new outbreaks of swine flu worldwide. FEEMA and the Red Cross sent in teams of psychiatrists and therapists and social workers, but it was no use. They couldn’t contain the epidemic.

The Chargers have never won a championship. (Okay, back in 1963 in the old AFL, but you just know that doesn't count.) Not back in the Air Coryell/Dan Fouts glory days. Not in the Junior Seau era. Then the realization dawned. Life as a Chargers fan would always be an endless succession of missed field goals. Acute SUFFERS turned chronic, and as we know there is no cure for SUFFERS.

Just ask any Red Sox fan. Not even two World Series wins in three years can ameliorate the condition. It’s no use. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, we just know, deep in our hearts the Red Sox will always find a way to lose. Even Yankees fans feel sorry for us.

Today, four teams are squaring off against each other. Two (hopefully one of them the New York Effin’ Jets) are going to be disappointed. The other two will go to the Super Bowl, where one will be disappointed. Alert FEEMA, alert the Red Cross.

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