Saturday, December 10, 2011
Dr. Loselove: Should I Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Loss?
Another year, another lost Redskins season. You would think by now Redskins fans would know how to lose gracefully and prepare to be irrationally optimistic for the 2012 season from March to mid-September. But each year, as an annual Holiday Rite (much like pretending like your family plays touch football on Thanksgiving) Redskins fans ask themselves: "Do I want this team to continue to suck for better draft position?"
I don't think anyone would argue that mathematically, teams get more talented players in the draft by picking earlier. (Though picking early still might be overvalued). While those players might not always pan out, and a single player generally can't turn around the fortunes of a franchise (like in the NBA), let's go ahead and believe the numbers and say that in the world of emotionless statistical probability, Redskins fans can expect more talented players in the draft if they root for the team to lose its remaining games.
But should they?
Rooting for your team to lose for higher draft position might make sense in Excel, but that shouldn't be the full equation. There's a real difference between actively rooting for your team to lose its remaining games and being able to quickly shrug off a loss after the fact in the hopes of better days ahead.
With technology enabling a plethora of ways to follow an NFL team, it's easier to think objectively about draft position while you're watching a Gamecast on your phone at a Jiffy Lube. Removing yourself from the presence of another team's fans, it's way easier to say to yourself "golly gee, the Skins would have way more options in April if they lost here". That's the easy way out.
I'm willing to bet that any Redskins fan at the Minnesota game this year rooting on a 4-11 Redskins team sitting next to a Vikings fan screaming "All Day" is hoping that the Skins pull it out. That's the essence of being a sports fan. Turning on the Red Zone channel at the start of the 4th quarter and looking up Mel Kiper's 2012 big board to see who the Skins are in line to get this week is a product of an increasingly isolated video game culture. Your team sucks, you hit reset and start over. No one else knows you bailed on your cyber-team of losers. The season is fleeting and who cares about what's going on now because there's immediate potential to turn things around. There's no shame involved in dumping the here and now, despite the fact that you're wearing a mesh tank top and sweatpants.
Everyone has the right to be a fan and root in their own way, but removing yourself from the emotion of the games and hoping for losses to improve draft position is a slippery slope to being a bandwagon fan. If you can disengage yourself from the fact that you want your team to win a game in the heat of the moment, then you're probably capable of distancing yourself enough to stop rooting for a team that rarely wins, and that's when you've become a Red Sox fan.
I feel a little like Mitch Albom writing that, and I should probably stop worrying and learn to love the losses, but it's tough for me to embrace math when the team I live and die with each Sunday has a chance to be positive in the locker room for a week. Short-sighted? Absolutely. But if I'm lucky, I'll get to experience a Redskins gameday roughly 1,000 times in my life (unless I start smoking again), and I don't want to waste any of those because some nerd told me that RG3 will make me happy in 2014.