Friday, January 29, 2010

We Like It Here?

The NIGP hepped me to an excellent piece by Bill Simmons on tortured teams. The whole thing is well worth reading, but one aspect that Simmons nails is how much worse it is to be a fan of a tortured team in a cold weather region:

Back to the Vikes for a second. Imagine being a die-hard living in Minnesota or South Dakota after Sunday's loss. It's three degrees outside, you have one year left with Joe Mauer, your basketball GM choked with Ricky Rubio, you have a .500 hockey team, and your football team is coming back nine months from now with the same bumbling coach and a 41-year-old QB...and that's before we get to the fact that God might legitimately hate your team, or that it's going to be 20 degrees or colder for the next two months, or that everyone around you is just as depressed as you are. How do you get out of bed? How do you function that Monday? So much for spiritual optimism.

Simmons also is spot on with the "sucker punch" aspect:

Two days before Vikes-Saints, I wrote the following: "Jets/Bills/Vikes/Browns fans expect to get punched, contort their faces into a giant wince, wait for a punch that never comes, say to themselves, 'Cool, I'm not gonna get punched, it's gonna be OK!'...and then they get clocked." That sequence usually leads to a Level 1 loss. What's amazing is how many fans know this and lower their guard anyway. On Wednesday's podcast, I asked my buddy Geoff (die-hard Vikes fan) whether he actually thought Minnesota was going to win on the final drive of regulation. This is someone who started rooting for the Vikes at age 6, the year of the Hail Mary play, and spent the next 35 years getting kicked in the teeth. What was his answer?


First down, New Orleans 33, less than a minute to play ... Geoff thought they had it. He dropped his guard. The rest was history. He spent the rest of the night kicking himself for dropping his guard. That's an essential emotional sequence for Level 1: self-loathing.

I was watching Sunday's game with the NIGP. Like Geoff, we can both recall the pain of the '75 push off and have become thoroughly jaded Viking fans by all the suffering that has followed. But we too succumbed to the tempation that this time would be different. This time the Vikings would get it done. The NIGP even uttered the words "Super Bowl" a couple of times, which no doubt played a role in the drive's ultimate failure.

The only quibble I have with Simmons is that he ranks the Cubs ahead of the Vikings in his list of tortured teams. Other than Bartman, how much have Cubs fans really suffered through over the last forty years? Hardly enough to compare with the Vikings four Super Bowl and five NFC championship game losses (three of them gut wrenchers).


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