For us fans the sometimes failures of our heroes is a subject most familiar.  But is it possible to let our favorite teams down?  That’s not a question we feel at all comfortable discussing; still the truth is we do at times fail them.  What, you may wonder, could prompt such self-defeating behavior?

Here’s how it can happen.  No matter the particular sport; what’s important are the circumstances.  Consider a tight, tense game, a nail biter with victory likely going to the first team to break through.  Each threatens but is turned back, thwarted.  This mounting tension brings you to the edge of your seat, locked into an emotional roller coaster, involved as only a fan can be.  Then, what you fear most happens.  The bubble bursts.  The opposition breaks through, scores and takes what at this late stage of the game is a commanding lead.  Anger, frustration, disappointment – all these emotions hit at once.  Your team has let you down.  Worse, they’ve handed the opposition a dramatic and morale-boosting victory.  Sure, there’s some time left, but little chance you reckon for a comeback.  All game long your boys have been stymied, unable to get anything going.

So, whatever the particular situation- your team, three runs down, heading into the ninth, or with a two-goal deficit, four minutes remaining or ten points behind with under two minutes to go in the basketball game, or trailing by more than a touchdown with less than three minutes left – it’s time, you decide, to throw in the towel.  Off goes the game.  No matter that you’ve already put in two or three hours watching.  Exhausted, demoralized, you’re also hurting and feeling sorry both for yourself and your team.  You just can’t bear seeing your heroes humbled, nor endure the final agonizing moments of a losing effort.  It’s simply too painful watching the other guys wrap it up, then move on to the high fives and happy embraces.  So you shut it off.

Now for the shocker.  It may hit, but a short time later when you tune back in to catch the postgame wrap-up and check on other scores, or later on when you’re watching the sports news.  Then again it may not come until the following day when you turn to the sports pages.  It may not even register at first, so unexpected is the news.  You listen or stare in disbelief.  Then it clicks in – YOUR TEAM WON!  My God.  It’s no mistake.  They rallied and won.  Incredible!

Joy now mixes with disappointment, also shame.  Talk about heroics.  The comeback must have been something.  The fans probably went wild.  What a lift for the team.  But where were you during this stirring climax?  How could you have missed those precious, unforgettable moments when the faithful were rewarded, when your boys showed what they were made of?  Put to the test, you didn’t measure up, were unworthy, a fan all too fickle.

Will you be more faithful in the future?  Have you learned your lesson?  Sure, you say, and you promise to mend your ways, to renew your vows and acknowledge your obligations as a fan.  “It’s not over till it’s over”, Yogi Berra’s ageless pronouncement, you now accept as the final word on such matters.  But do you really?  Will you be able to hang in there when in the waning moments the opposition breaks open a tight game?  The pain and the suffering – will you really be able to bear it?  Let’s wait and see.

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