Sports — like, at times, life — can be disappointing.
In fact, there are a number of similarities between sports fandom and regular life. Probably because in many ways the two are intimately intertwined.
As the Green Bay Packers lost a nail-biter to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, my heart sank, as I knew this would be the last time I would cheer for them until September. They had come so close to having a chance to beat such a good team and fell just short. Literally.
If corner back Micah Hyde could have squeezed his hands around Colin Kaepernick’s throw on 2nd and 10 from the 49ers’ own 31-yard line, the Packers could have positioned themselves for an easy field goal and the win. But it was just not meant to be. Not on this day. For the second time in two years, the 49ers ended the Packers’ season.
Aaron Rodgers summed up the loss best: “Very disappointing, personally.”
To me, the best thing about being a sports fan are the emotions that go along with it. It’s hard for me to get into a game — no matter the magnitude — unless it’s one of the greatest games of the year, or unless I have a vested interest in the outcome. Cheering unconditionally for a favorite team can be so rewarding. It can also be frustrating, infuriating, or down right sad.
The day the Packers lose is always one of my worst sports days of the year. I’ve been a fan of that team longer than any other team, and the emotional connection I’ve formed — through years of loyalty, associated family/friend traditions, and memorable moments — is stronger than I’ve felt for any other colors and logo in my life.
There are good moments too. Take Super Bowl XLV, for example. The Packers capped off an improbable run to the promised land with a six-point win that came down to the final drive. It was one of the few times in my life where I can remember feeling so nervous I was hardly able to watch. There are also few moments where I’ve been more proud to be a fan, if any.
The thing about the good moments is that they feel the way they do because of the bad ones. Green Bay hadn’t won a Super Bowl in 14 years, they suffered through a few down years in between, and the greatest quarterback in their history recently retired. It was hard to imagine the team would be back on top, especially in such unpredictable fashion.
Also, I was 25 years-old when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, compared to just 11 when they won in the previous one. When I was young I just assumed they would win a bunch of Super Bowls because they were so good back then. As I’ve grown older, the finite nature of life — and by extension, my sports fandom — is more clear to me, so the fleeting moments feel more important.
So today I officially bid my season as an NFL fan adieu. Sure, there are still games to be played, but not any that I particularly care about. I’ll still tune in, hoping for great competition, but I’ll store away my Packers cap and apparel until next season, when I’ll brandish them with pride in enemy territory once again.
The pain of this season’s loss and the opportunities missed are still fresh, but I’m not down. I’m optimistic. I know there will be brighter days ahead. And because of the disappointment today, those moments will only feel that much better.