I ran into a friend, a Redskins fan, the other day while food shopping. He asked me about the Eagles-Jets game. When I told him I hadn’t watched it, he was shocked. He knew my devotion. “You’re not giving up on them already?” he asked with a hint of malice. “They’re only a few games back.” What my Redskins-loving friend didn’t know was that I have been trying to “give up on them” for weeks, and failing (Read about it here). It was true that I didn’t watch the game, but I listened to it on the radio while driving through Long Island . Then I listened to the lengthy recap which tracked every possession. And here I was days later, still turning the game over in my mind, while mindlessly throwing orange cauliflower and anchovies into my basket. I was in turmoil.
In my 12-step program designed to quit the corrosive habit of the Philadelphia Eagles, I had come to a moment of contemplation and confession. I had “to admit to God, to myself, and to another person the exact nature of my wrongs.” After talking to this Redskins fellow, I thought he might be on to something. He might have revealed the exact nature of my wrongs. Perhaps, I thought, I am a fair-weather fan — a fair weather fan with a foul attitude. I only support my team when it is winning. Even then I rain insults upon it; I invest it with all sorts of insecurities and failings; I demand perfection; and I find fault everywhere. I didn’t watch the Eagles game on Sunday, partly because I thought they should win. If they did win, it wouldn’t be very satisfying. If they didn’t, it would be pathetic.
When they did actually win, I was slightly disappointed. How did they score only one touchdown? Brian Westbrook rushed for 120 yards and had 36 more in the air. Kevin Curtis had five catches for 121 yards. The Eagles threatened the Jets end zone six times, but they only came away with 16 points. They almost lost! If not for some great plays by cornerback Sheldon Brown, they might have dominated the game and choked. It was not exactly an impressive display of offensive efficiency. Some win.
I could go on and on, but I must admit to God, to myself, and to another person (I’ve nominated you, dear reader, as my sponsor) that I have let my foul-tempered fair-weather fandom take over my life. Why is it that I don’t have a real job, that I’m not married, and that my friends seem to disappear in the fall? Is it because the Eagles aren’t good enough? Do I demand too much from this team in order to abandon it at the slightest hint that it won’t produce? Does this let me off the hook when it comes to things like reality? Do I love to lose?
No, actually. My problem isn’t simply that I heap negativity on my team and let it suck away all my emotional energy – energy that would be better spent fostering a happy and healthy social life. My problem is that I love my team even when they lose.
I believe the Eagles can, should, and will win. Every game. Everything else is just an elaborate ruse to deflect the pain of unrealistic expectations. Perhaps I am putting life on hold because I know the day will come when the Eagles win the Super Bowl, when we parade down Broad Street, when the world turns to sweet candy, when Brotherly Love finally reigns in Philadelphia. I admit it, God. I admit it, me. I admit it, reader. I believe too much. Please help.