Monday, January 19, 2015

Fair-weather fans are worth cheering for

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 1:36 PM

Right now, life is pretty sunny for fair-weather fans of the Seahawks.

But life is always pretty good for the fair-weather fan. That’s the entire point. If it’s sunny, they bask in it. And when it starts raining, they do the sensible thing and go inside and curl up with some hot chocolate. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Yes, if you leave a game before it’s over to beat traffic, you deserve to be mocked when your team improbably turns it around in the final quarter. Yes, it’s fine to make fun of my grandpa, who turned off the Apple Cup in disgust in 2012, only to miss one of the Cougars’ greatest comebacks.Yes, there’s a Quixotic sort of heroism to those shivering in the rain in empty stadiums, keeping vigil over a string of heart-breaking defeats. There is a nobility to the doomed sports fan, loyally manning the Helms Deep parapets as he sees his team slaughtered year after a year.

So yes, the diehards earn the right to brag when their team turns it around, to hold their head a little higher, to brag about how they were there man before their team was cool.

But it’s not immoral or shameful to be a fair-weather fan. It’s rational.

Sports, it sometimes helps to be reminded, are make-believe.

Nothing inherently changes in the world if the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, or the Mariners win the pennant, or the North Central High School distance runners win Nike Cross Nationals. But that surge of jump-up-and-down excitement you get when you win, that swagger and strut that follows, that’s real. So is the feeling of devastation when you lose, the sickness in your stomach that leaves you scowling, snapping at your wife, yelling at your kids.

Rooting for the team most likely to leave you smiling instead of brooding is just a wise mental health choice. 

Jump on the bandwagon. The bandwagon is a magical place, where we feel a genuine camaraderie that can supersede race, class, nationality, religion, politics, and all that destructive stuff of division. The bandwagon is packed and warm, and people are drinking, singing, and waving their foam fingers. 

And when it gets colder, when the singing stops, and the foam fingers start wilting, feel free to jump off, stick your thumb out on the roadside, and hitch on the ride on the next packed bandwagon to drive by.

Remember: The stuff of sports — the tackles and fouls and half-court shots and volleys and baton passes — are all put there for your entertainment.

If a sitcom jumps the shark, you stop watching. If Michael Bay’s last three movies have been painful to sit through, you stop shelling out for tickets. And if the Seahawks start sucking next year, it makes sense to pack up your 12th Man banner and find something else to root for. There’s so much to do in life, so many TV shows to binge through on Netflix, so many good albums to discover, so many books to read, articles to skim, video games to play through that won’t leave you depressed.

Even die-hard fans complain about the way that, in some sports, swaps, trades, and coaching turnover makes it feel more like you’re rooting for a stadium or a mascot more than any truly contiguous team. So why bother with loyalty?

There’s no karmic punishment, no angry sports God, no execution for treason, no dishonor upon your family if you abandon your team for a better one. There’s no sense in being more loyal to a team than that team’s athletes are to their wives.

It’s fun to watch sports.

It’s much more fun to watch sports when you’re winning.

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...