The True Fan

by Devanshu Mehta

Is it ok to want to watch only when your team is winning?

Is it ok to want to watch only when the watching is easy?

Is there value in being able to watch when your team sucks?

Is there virtue in sticking with it?

Is the goal to be able to watch when it’s hard?

Is the goal to be able to watch when it’s not your team?

Are you still a fan of the sport if you can’t watch a losing team?

Are you still a fan of the sport if the emotion of a loss is too much to carry on a regular basis?

What does it say about you if a loss doesn’t affect you?

What does it say about you if a loss affects you too much?

What does it say about you if a loss makes you less likely to watch the next game?

Should I turn up again if I know it will hurt?

And when it does, is there virtue in putting up with it?

It’s hard to follow a team that loses all of the time, but perhaps it’s harder to follow a team that wins some of the time. Hope-mongering teams, like slot machines that pay out just often enough. Like the boy who gives you just enough attention to think you have a shot.

Should we aspire to fandomnirvana, where a cover drive gives us pleasure regardless of the practitioner? Where a well-played match is more important than the result? And for those that achieve this state, what does it say about them? And for those of us that aspire to but can’t, are we lesser fans for it?

It hurts when my team loses. And when this happens, I find myself walling myself off from the sport. I no longer follow the sport with as much interest, to protect myself from the hurt.

This is me. This is what I do when the Democrats start losing. I’m a political junkie until we start losing. And then it’s too personal, the losses hurt, the setbacks sting.

It wasn’t this way when I was younger. I had a lot more room in my head to carry the emotional baggage of the world. I would feel the pain of far off lands, of sports teams, of leaders and people.

But now I fill up very quickly. There is just so much of my own stuff I carry around inside, and I have a little room left over for the outside, but I have to draw the line.

And so I move back into my shell. I leave the weight of the world where it is. It will be right there when I come back, but it’s not mine to bear.

And as I step away I think to myself, wouldn’t it be better to not care? To not attach so much emotional weight to what is an abstract concept—a team?

But that is not who I am. When I’m here, I’m here for the emotional attachment. When I come back, that’s what I’ll be back for.

I think you have to experience everything before you can let it go—before you become detached— so that you know what you’re letting go of. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. I don’t know if I want to.

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