Here’s a different spin on the psychology of losing. Insanity has been loosely defined as being a Purdue, Northwestern, Chicago Cub, Seattle Mariner, or Los Angeles Clipper fan: Watching the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Red Sox fan and the White Sox fan used to be part of this club. For the longest time, the Colt fan also a member of this club. My membership is thick … for I am a die hard Purdue fan, Clipper fan, Colt, and White Sox fan. I also am partial to Northwestern. I used to be a Cubs fan, till I could stand it no more.
I am defining a loser as follows: the team that consistently loses the big game OR can not win more than it loses OR finds way to choke — when they are the favorites. So technically, a team can have a winning record and still be a loser. The Indiana Pacers, therefore, technically do not belong on this list, even though I am a die hard Pacer fan. They were not expected to beat the Miami Heat this year or last year. They weren’t expected to beat the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2001 for the NBA championship either.
Here is my evidence: I watched a really good Chicago Cubs team with Ivan DeJesus, Bill Buckner, Manny Trillo, Bruce Sutter … blow a 600 zillion game lead. I listened to the same Cubs team score 22 runs in a game against Philadelphia … and lose 23-22. I have watched the Clippers, season in and season out, win 19, 23, 30, 16, games a season. I watched Purdue take the honor of blowing the biggest lead in a bowl game and lose. And of course the Kyle Orton fumble against Wisconsin in 2004.
For years, decades, I’ve thought, “there is something very, very wrong with me. I watch the same thing over and over again, I follow the same loser teams over and over again.” And it appeared I had very good evidence to back this up. For Purdue, it started in 1971. Leading number one ranked Notre Dame 7-0 with minutes left, on fourth down, inexplicably Purdue decided to punt out of their own end zone. A bad snap, a panic-stricken punter, a fumble, and ND wins 8-7. In 1973, I watched Minnesota and Rick Upchurch go wild against Purdue 34-7. I watched that game on a 12 inch, black and white television set. After the game, I cried.
“Yep, there’s something very wrong with me …”
This past basketball season, I predicted Purdue to upset Indiana. Purdue lost by the most lopsided score in history.
But then I took a look the people who I have known for years, decades … people who I have admired because of how they have coped with the ups and downs of life … who ride the waves of life with poise. People who have experienced loss, hardship and pain AND still find joy and passion … who ALSO follow the same sports teams I do.
The conclusion? “It takes a person in tip top mental health form or at least a person who aspires to be in tip top mental health form … to be a die hard fan of the losing team.”
For example, in order for the Boilermaker fan to endure football seasons of: 3-8, 2-9, 1-10; in order for the fan to endure a game in which Purdue scores 56 points and loses; in order for the Purdue fan to sit through scores like 62-17, 58-14, 49-0; in order for Purdue fan to watch one athlete after another go down with same injury 12 times; sit through quarterback fumbles returned for game winning TDs; missed field goals, missed last second shots, and turnover after turnover to lose games … one must have the following qualities, skills, and coping tools:
1) Unwavering loyalty 2) Passion 3) Optimism 4) Acceptance 5) Faith 6) Reality Testing 7) Never give up attitude 8) Coping with getting your heart handed to you on a regular basis 9) Coping with wild, unexpected bad turn of events. 10) Emotional bounce back.
How one deals with disappointment can be a predictor of how one deals with anxiety, stress, depression.
So for all the die hard sports fans who support their perennial losers … take comfort … your mental health may be absolute winners!!!