Planted in front of a big screen TV, watching the Bears Defense look like a high school team against the Seahawks pass offense…a simple phrase was uttered, that got the brain working…
“I have a feeling that the Bears can win this if I just focus on it.”
No, that wasn’t some genius line from a studio analyst, although there were plenty of those…nope this was spoken by a fan, watching the game on TV…a thousand miles away from where it was being played. And the thing is, no one in the room batted an eye. No one called him out. No one laughed.
Every one of us has little ticks and superstitions about the games. Some of them involved wearing a particular shirt, outfit or codpiece on game day. But for others it is more subtle.
As a drive starts to go south for your team, you shift in your seat, trying to find that key position on the couch. Much like trying to find the exact spot in a room to get cell phone reception, your body scoots around until, suddenly your team starts moving the ball…you freeze having found the perfect spot.
Before every game, there is a trip to a favorite eatery, a specific meal ordered, a certain table sat at…and if the place of business should be closed, or not open for a certain meal for an abnormal start time…panic overtakes the fan, wondering what they can do to appease the football gods.
As the players make their way up to the line, a low muttering can be heard, “nice and easy, just take what they give you”. No matter the situation, the same phrase is uttered, slowly and methodically…not from a player or a coach, but from the comfort of a couch.
The offense is clicking…the team moving down the field…a touchdown is in sight. The lead looks ready to change hands…a big victory can be felt. Suddenly, someone enters the room to ask a question/refill the dip/clean up a spill when all of a sudden, INTERCEPTION! The shouts raise up, the interloper banished from the room, blamed for all that is wrong with the team.
It is one of the amazing facets of being a fan, that all we do effects what is happening on the field.
When we’re seated in the stadium, screaming our heads off, and the opposing Right Tackle can’t hear the call, and either moves early, or misses the blocking adjustment, allowing a blitzing Linebacker free access to the backfield blowing up the play. That is the height of fan involvement. It is where a fan can truly do some damage, becoming a 12th man on the field(This reference is trademarked by Texas A&M University and cannot be reused without their express written consent).
But when we’re sitting at home, comfy on the couch, what influence do we have?
The answer, as we all know deep down, is none.
The actions of a 31 year-old, sitting on his friend’s couch, drinking a beer and sitting in his lucky position, has no bearing on whether the defense holds on 3rd and 1.
No matter how hard a 10 year-old in Denver hits the arm rest on his chair, the Cutler pass has not more or less chance of completion then if he just sat quietly.
Whether a certain Hawks fan wears his lucky shirt, or just watches the game nude, the Seahawks still have the same probability to win the game.
But, as fans, it’s our duty to do all these things. It is the responsibility of every fan to do whatever they can do to help their team win. If they are at a game, that means they need to scream their lungs out, until they can barely speak above a whisper, and for days later it hurts to talk. When watching the game on TV, every fan still need to do their part.
Here’s how it works…
If a fan believes their actions influence their team, then they do. It might not be a physical thing, meaning that lucky sweater won’t cause the needed fumble…but don’t stop trying. It does help…
The level of commitment, loyalty, and devotion a fan feels towards their team is amazing. A day, week, month, year, lifetime can be ruined by a loss…and feeling helpless to do anything about it is not something most of us want to accept. And so we don’t accept it.
Instead we channel all that energy into all our various superstitions. And that’s a good thing. There are so many things we already don’t have control over in life, and sports is supposed to be an escape from that. Knowing that we can lend a hand in the outcome, or that we are to blame if they lose…well, it’s much better than the alternative.
All our superstitions make it easier for us to be a fan. It allows us to embrace the team, and feel like we’re not just along for the ride. Fans that reach this level no longer refer to a team as “those guys” or “The Texans” instead it’s “We”. You’ve never suited up to play a down, but “We’re gonna have to stop the run to have a chance in this one” is an understood and accepted statement.
And that’s why it’s our duty to do whatever we can to make sure our team wins, because in the end, it makes being a fan a lot of fun. It gives us a sense of belonging to a larger team and community. And in the end, that all helps the team, even if our lucky jersey wasn’t enough to push that field goal through the uprights.
So throw on your lucky jersey, sit in your lucky chair, and ban your dog from the room. Your team is counting on you.
Author's Note: Many of the comments reminded me of a post I did awhile back about appropriate Jersey use. Thought you might like to check it out.