This was the year. You’ve been telling all your friends, your classmates, your coworkers, your girlfriend that could care less, anybody who would listen. This was the year that (fill in the blank) will finally win a championship. You stuck with them through the draft, through training camp and the preseason, and you made it a top priority to wear your lucky jersey and watch them every time they came on T.V.
And then it wasn’t their year. They were eliminated from the playoffs, or maybe didn’t even make it at all. And you feel as though your whole life was a lie.
Luckily, you’re not alone. Every avid sports fan has dealt with the heartbreak of their team being knocked out. Below are the five stages of coping with your team being eliminated to help you feel less alone.
1. The disbelief stage
You see that baby? That’s you. Sitting in front of your T.V. in disbelief. This was supposed to be your team’s year, and you were going to be the dedicated fan who stood by them since day one! You refuse to believe that you have to wait months to watch your team compete again, and even worse, you’re going to have to see another team and city raise a championship banner. It is shortly after this moment that you slowly walk to your closet and hang up your lucky jersey, calculating the months until you can wear it again while watching your team play.
2. The rage/excuses stage
Now is when you start to think. Like, REALLY think. You think back to that one play that happened with two seconds left in the half and how the referees didn’t call that foul on the opposing team and how that ultimately cost your team their whole season. You realize that it was entirely the official’s fault that your team lost, and that they were obviously bought out by the other team and were against all of your players. You go on social media, where you write a four paragraph Facebook status about how the league is rigged and your team should not have lost and anyone who believes otherwise has no idea what they are talking about. Then, that rage starts to wear off, and stage three commences.
3. The sadness stage
You lay in bed, wide awake, unable to come to grips that somewhere out there, thousands of fans are celebrating that they just beat your team while you cry into your pillow not believing it to be true. You think of all the smack talk you spit at school or work, and how that is all going to come back to bite you in the morning. You wonder if you will ever see your team hoist that championship trophy again, or even for the first time.
4. The “Just wait until next year!” stage
A few days have gone by, and while the initial sadness of your team being eliminated is gone, you still feel the sting every time you flip on the T.V. to ESPN and listen to analysts talk about what went wrong for your team this year. But, it is usually around this time that the fan in you comes alive again, and you start thinking about the future. You realize that “As long as (insert 48 trivial moments in the season) didn’t happen, we would have won!” That won’t happen next season!” Now you start crafting mock drafts, analyzing each player’s season and why they will be better next year, and all of your advanced (and totally biased) analytics as to why your team will have a better chance of winning it all next year. Your confidence begins to skyrocket again, as you look forward to next season, because now you know that next season WILL be your team’s year. No doubt about it.
5. The “wait…it’s just sports” stage
About a week after (or hopefully not that long) is when every sports fan has that epiphany where they realize…it’s just sports. And while some get so emotionally invested in sports and their outcomes because of their attachment to the teams and players, at the end of the day, their winning or losing will not hinder all of the other good things going on in your life. These athletes provide us so much joy and sadness, and sports wouldn’t be fun without the tough losses every now and again.
But alas, we will fall right back into the same cycle the next time our team plays again. And that’s the beauty of being a sports fan.
Header photo credit to Pixabay.