Zoo Station

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When being a sports fan, take it one game at a time

Posted by Chance on October 25, 2007

Being a fan of any sports team can be a great experience, or it can be painful. But the experience doesn’t have to depend on how a team does. Being a good fan depends on how seriously they take their team’s success, to some degree.

One aspect of fandom I think is very important is to have the same approach that a coach or player should have: take it one game at a time.

What I mean is that a fan should focus only on the upcoming game and not the big picture of how the team does. I believe that when fans focus on the overall picture – if they will make the playoffs, how good of a bowl game they make, if they’ll win a conference/league championship – then the overall fan experience is less enjoyable.

Why do I think this? Let’s look at things in college football terms, since that is my favorite sport. If you don’t have a team that typically performs all that well, then from the fan’s perspective, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Every victory is a joy. Losses are still a disappointment, but they are gotten over more easily.

However, let’s say you root for a championship caliber team, Ohio State, USC, Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida, etc… Things change. Fans will believe that the conference championship and a BCS bowl game is theirs to lose. High expectations are set upon the team. Losses are met with people calling for the coach’s head. Wins are met with sighs of relief. Even during a victory, fans will analyze the teams performance to see if any weaknesses were exposed that will cause problems later.

So, does this mean we just root for bad teams? No. I think the answer is to keep a short-term mindset even when your team becomes successful. As I said earlier, fans should just look at the value of winning a game, one game at a time. Relish each victory. Don’t worry about the postseason. Don’t obsess over the fact that your team barely hung on to victory while their pass defense was ripped to shreds; be thankful that they found a way to win.

It’s okay to be disappointed after losses, and I think, to even lose a little sleep that night from time to time. But be disappointed because it was a loss, not that the team won’t get to go to so and so bowl game or, because they lost this game there is no way they will win the next one.

By approaching games this way, I think fans do a better job in sharing in the emotional highs and lows of the season along with the team.

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