Being a sports fan, for the most part, blows. Unless you're a native Bostonian who went to the University of Alabama, roots for the Miami Heat and studied abroad in Spain, you've grown accustomed to the annual ritual of heartbreak and disappointment.
Beside the obvious, much more real problems we face in the world—war, disease, the militarization of our local police, Channing Tatum as Gambit, gun control, the fight for equal rights, Iggy/Nikki beef, male pattern baldness, the premature cancellation of How to Make It in America—there are few things as agonizing as a hard sports loss.
I've lost sleep a few times in my life because of missed field goals, buzzer beaters and a cross in the 93rd minute that stole two points from the USA. I may have thrown my phone across the bar, obliterating my iPhone screen into a spider web, but I won't admit to that because that would be admitting I have actual issues. I'd rather be in denial.
The USMNT lost yesterday in a game that felt like we had no business winning. I am not that particularly upset because I tempered my expectations. Getting out of group play was the goal. Everything else was just a bonus. I downplayed any idea of winning because I decided to enter the grieving stage before the game actually even started. This way, once we actually lost, I'd presumably already have moved on.
Expectations are everything as a sports fan. There's nothing more enjoyable than being an objective, neutral observer during March Madness. You fill out a bracket, watch some games at work and drink a few beers at the bar. The worst thing that can happen is you wake up with a hangover because you drank too many Bud Lights at a Syracuse bar in Murray Hill.
The flip side to that is if you actually attended Syracuse and some small school in Ohio decides to have the game of their life and Cinderellas your school out of the tournament. Now, not only will you have a hangover, but you'll come to the stunning realization that your freshman phenom is gone after today. Straight to the NBA. Your championship window is closed. The would-be dynasty over.
And then, the flip side to that is if you went to Dayton. Just your presence alone in the tournament has already exceeded your expectations. Sure, it'd be cool to advance to the second round by beating cross state rivals, "The" Ohio State, but you're not holding your breath. And, sure, beating the 3 seed Syracuse would be awesome too, but there's no shame in losing to a basketball powerhouse. And then, all of a sudden, you're in the Sweet 16. And you start to believe that, maybe, just maybe, you can make it to the Final Four. After all, you're playing with house money. You tell yourself, "If we win, I'm buying a plane ticket to Dallas." You start to think that destiny, perhaps, has paved a road to the promised land for you.
You survive. Again. And all bets are off now. You're in the Elite 8. You've defied the odds. This is definitely your year. Fuck the Cinderella narrative, you're popping a couple mollys and staying up 'til the sun rises.
There is no clear reason why any adult human being should consent their emotions to the roller coaster of sports. None.
And then, of course, you lose. Because, fuck sports. Your team, who looked like Danny Glover and yung JGL were summoning angels for you before this, checked out early. You get embarrassed. The once exuberant atmosphere in your bar turns into a mass exodus of people trying to close their tabs and rush home to change out of their jerseys.
Atheists plead to God. Pragmatics defy logic. Optimists turn sadistic. Sports make people attribute their presence in the world as some sort of catalyst to the outcome of the game. Bargaining turns sane-minded people into manics. There has been more than one occasion where I actually debated which underwear to put on for game day because, naturally, I can't wear the colors of an opposing team.
Being a sports fan is deeply romantic. And, like any good romance, it comes with gnawing heartbreak. Like, "Marvin's Room" levels of sadness. But instead of laying around texting exes on what could have been, you're replaying shots of Wondolowski blowing a point blank shot in stoppage time, thinking what could have been.
There is no clear reason why any adult human being should consent their emotions to the roller coaster of sports. None. The idea that so many of us are willing to gamble our emotions on anything less than a sure bet is fairly unbecoming. It's the equivalent of being able to monetize all of your emotions for an extended period and putting it all on red. Why let the spin of a wheel dictate the fate of your feelings?
At it's very best, the emotions of sports are best reveled in the company of others. The spontaneous ecstasy shared amongst strangers because of something that happened in a game is unique to the idea of being a fan. That's the reason why everyone loves reaction videos. There's really no way to replicate that sort impromptu joy. And while some could call sports fans masochists, especially those of you rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, there is no overt reason why anyone would want to watch the agony of a sad reaction video.
Sports are fucking dumb and I'm not watching them anymore. Well, at least until football season, anyway.
Nickolaus Sugai is a copywriter living in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter here.