It is episodes like this that teach me that sports fandom isn’t built by success, it’s built by defeat. Not just regular defeat, but dramatic, heartbreaking defeat. Fandom is PAIN. It is fundamental, discomforting, misery. Whenever you put emotion into something you can’t control, you have a twisted one-sided relationship. Every fanbase is toxic by definition, and you aren’t really a fan until you’ve been disappointed but stick with it out of sheer fucking stupidity.
I liked the Yankees as a real little kid since they were in the World Series like every year and they were the first sports team I ever paid attention to. (My mom is a monster fan as well.) But like, I don’t think I ever really cared or had real emotion until 2004, when they got crushed by the Red Sox in ALCS after a 3-0 game lead. I went to sleep sad and upset, went to middle school to confront Mets fans gloating, felt like shit, and now Yankees were my lifelong identity.
(I’m still a shitty fairweather fan, but that’s only because I only kinda like baseball, honestly.)
Similarly, I liked the Broncos as a kid, they won two Super Bowls, that was rad. But I didn’t really obsess over them until 2013 when they got slaughtered by the Ravens in overtime the day of my birthday party. I listened sadly on the radio on my way home and that misery fucking night cracked something in my brain that made me a football fan when I never was before. Cut to years later, I’m driving three hours down to Baltimore to watch Case Keenam play three shitty quarters of non-football in the rain just to prove my fandom.