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I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Monday, June 19, 2023

The Frustrated Sports Team Fan

We've all been there before.  Pulling our hair out frustrated that our team lost.  Frustrated that the boundless hope of the beginning of the season is slowly closing as the path to a championship gets narrower and narrower.  And that other team and their fans are celebrating.  The fans psyche is damaged and they must do something to let you know.  Because simply turning off the TV or moving on is not possible.

Before social media, it was the radio and talk shows.  Now anybody (and everybody) with a cell phone can go on an historic angry rant within minutes of a play.  Why do they do this?  I'm glad you ask.

The more proud the program or franchise, the more worked up fans get

I am no psychologist but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night LOL.  First and foremost, all the penned-up energy is released by the following two step gasket blow.

1) Berating the team you love, when truly you do love them, you just need to blow off some steam. By ranting you're rewiring your brain and resetting expectation that a title isn't in the works this year.   Then you can no longer be disappointed (spoiler alert, you will again be disappointed).  Essentially (as Emmanual Acho once ranted), you're self-handicapping.

Examples

  • This team is horrible, obviously we're not going to win the title
  • Why does our team suck so bad
  • I'm so sick of this crappy team.

One would think this is someone who isn't a "true fan".  I argue that their passion pushes them to do these things against logic.  It's just a different fan wiring.  Logic, like the remainder of the season being long, a playoff run being possible, the team not indeed bad (they have a winning record) but just aren't as good as you had hoped has no place here (more in a minute).  If you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it's the second indicator.  Thinking versus Feeling.  Doesn't mean you have to pick one, but the tendencies are (and we've all seen it) to gravitate towards the one that is natural.

Dissatisfied fans are not a rarity (courtesy MLB.com)

2) Find Blame.  Immediately.  In typical hierarchy it goes a) blame the coach or manager; b) blame your lease favorite player (especially if they are highly paid), c) combo of a and b, blame the coach or manager for playing the player you don't like.  d) blame the general manager for any and all mistakes they made (after all they should have had perfect foresight to know this would happen.)  e) Blame the owner for not spending more money.  f) blame the players for not caring.  g) (less for the long term) blame the referees or the system for not allowing your team to compete.

Examples:

  • Idiot Coach Casey didn't go for it on fourth down, didn't pinch hit, didn't foul the bad free throw shooter, didn't pull the goalie, didn't get that bum out of the game when he or she was sucking
  • I'm so sick of Player Richey Pants, he isn't earning his salary.  Bench him.
  • I can't believe Coach Casey keeps playing Player Richey Pants, he's horrible!
  • Why the hell did GM Casey sign Player Richey Pants, he is obviously overrated completely ruined the season
  • We are so cheap and didn't sign Player Hall of Fame Elite who is the MVP, the owner obviously doesn't want to win
  • God, it's like the players aren't even trying; they don't have fire
  • So stupid that the commissioner allows the big market teams to spend freely or gave us this impossible schedule
  • The refs are obviously biased for the big market team they want the ratings.

Any of those ring a bell?  The mistaken ideal that replacing one thing will fix everything.  I'm here to tell you it's always a team game and every league has plenty of games to prove that (2020 MLB regular season withstanding).  That one fix probably, almost certainly, isn't what's causing your team to lose.

The more rational sports fan tries to enter the fray but is hopeless against emotion.  Emotion cannot be swayed by providing logical statements.  Sure, the frustrated fan may calm down after the immediate disappointment, but the powder keg is still inside for next time.  And the rational sports fan (myself included at times) usually takes a self-perceived superior stance.   "Well, I'm the one looking at facts and they're not."  Who says educated sports fandom is better than frustrated ranting sports fandom?  They're both fans, just different in their approach.  Ne'er the twain shall meet.

Tenets to always remember.

1) Winning in professional sports is hard.  That's why men and women shed tears when they do it.  Players, fans, owners, etc.  It's why we watch.  But there is no perfect formula and every championship team in professional sports (besides one certain Dolphins team) had a loss.  Baseball teams lose 60 times.  The other teams are trying to win too.

The Greatest of All Time knows it ain't easy

2) Player performance is unpredictable.  There are overvalued players on the free agent market.  There are undervalued ones.  Nobody knows which is which or general management would be easy.  You can gauge a good fit in market and age then suddenly it just doesn't go right.

3) The owner wants to win, just has constraints.  Even unconstrained owners don't lead to a title.

4) The coach is highly qualified for his or her position.  It may not be a right fit, but changing frequently is a road to disaster.

5) The refs or league aren't biased.  Refs are imperfect.  But not biased.  You probably ask 30/30 teams think the refs are against their team.  Tells you all you need to know.

6) When a player is struggling, the person most frustrated by his or her performance is him or her.  Their livelihood depends on it.  They replay the mistakes in their head.  They may even start to self doubt.  Tweeting at them probably isn't productive.

The person most frustrated at the play of 2022 Russell Wilson was Russell Wilson

But as a final parting shot, the fan just feels better in their mind if they complain, rant, find blame, etc.  More power to them, they live their life one way, others live it another.

All are fans.


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