For the past 25 years, I've been in an abusive relationship. I've tried to leave, but I keep getting sucked back in by promises that things have changed and it'll be better from now on.
Well, no more. I'm finally breaking up with sports.
Sports are supposed to be fun. They're supposed to provide the fans with joy, pleasure and entertainment. Well, that sure the fuck didn't happen last night, as the Cavaliers were knocked out of the postseason early for the second consecutive season. After last year's loss to Orlando, even the good moments during Cleveland's 61-win regular season weren't joyful. They were more like feeling of nervous anticipation, a "please don't let me down, please don't let me down" plea that wasn't answered.
Life is supposed to be about finding something enjoyable and savoring it, but with sports, the moments you can savor are incredibly limited, and the time you get to enjoy them is even more limited. At this point, it seems like I wait year after year for my teams to win championships and they never do. Hell, even if they did, that happiness would last what... a week? Two weeks? Barring consecutive championships it sure wouldn't last all the way through the next season. Just ask Red Sox fans, who were so thrilled about 2004 (and then 2007), and now, just six years later, they're bitching about how David Ortiz can't hit. I remember how short the cycle of happiness was when the Redskins won the Super Bowl following the 1991 season, then by 1993 we were all calling for Richie Petitbon to be fired. How the fuck is that fun?
As those who know me know, my two longtime favorite teams are the New York Mets and the Washington Redskins. I've been waiting 24 years for another Mets championship, and 19 years for the Redskins to return to the Super Bowl. Sometimes a year that doesn't end with a championship can seem like a minor victory, but more often than not it's a feeling more like 2006, where the entire Mets season felt like a waste because Carlos FUCKING BELTRAN COULDN'T BE BOTHERED TO REMOVE THE FUCKING BAT FROM HIS SHOULDER! Sorry about that... it still makes me angry.
I tried to mitigate these pain factors when I re-joined NBA fandom in 2003. I told myself I was just going to be a LeBron James fan. I didn't care who he played for or what he won, I just wanted to see him be awesome. Well, fast-forward seven years and I've been completely sucked in by the Cavaliers, to the point where every season that goes by without a title for Cleveland is a punch to the gut. And while in 2003 I would have been fine with LeBron playing for any team, now I'm likely going to be heartbroken when he leaves the Cavs. Again, I ask, how is this fun?
Sports aren't the only form of entertainment that can be tough to be a fan of. Sometimes your favorite band will start to suck, your favorite TV show will go off the rails or your favorite comic book will make sweeping changes to the story that make no sense whatsoever. But here's the difference between those things and sports: only sports keep going. If the Chicago Cubs were a TV series, they would have been canceled decades ago. The "Cleveland Cavaliers" would have gone on permanent hiatus during the Stepien years. Even when a team does get "canceled" (via moving to a different city) it just hurts more. I can sit here and tell you I'm a Penguins fan all I want, but really I just want my Whalers back.
There's a great line in "The Matrix" when Agent Smith is describing the first Matrix to Morpheus and why it was a spectacular failure.
I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.That's us. That's sports fans right there in a nutshell. And I just can't deal with it anymore. I can't take the soul-crushing losses, the 6-month death marches to elimination, the fucking Cavs NBA champions betting slip that I now have to decide to either rip up and throw out or save as a monument to complete failure.
You know the worst part about this? Even as I write this, I know that something will happen at some point in the near future to suck me back into sports. Maybe it'll be Ike Davis hitting three homers in a game. Maybe the Redskins will actually acquire a player who had a prime sometime after 2004. Maybe LeBron will re-sign in Cleveland and somehow convince Chris Bosh to join him. Maybe some shitty hockey team will move to Hartford and become the new Whalers. Who knows? But I know that as much as I want to, I can never stop caring about sports. I just wish they didn't hurt me so much.