By Joe Torosian
“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject” – Winston Churchill
Do we enjoy anything about sports?
I’m being cute here because there is something about sports we do enjoy.
But I’ll ask again, this way, is there anything about our teams we enjoy?
Last year I disengaged from all sports except for the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Mets. Until the post-season, I didn’t watch anything in the MLB or NFL. I haven’t seen an NBA game in three years and the last NHL game I watched from start to finish was the last time the Los Angeles Kings made the playoffs.
I truly was a fan last year. No attachments to anything but winning. And, of course, the Rams had their best season since 1999, and I enjoyed it.
I didn’t stress about their draft picks because I stopped watching the NFL Draft. I didn’t question the players they signed or let go. And I really didn’t start complaining again–righteously inspired, of course–until the second half of the Super Bowl.
The Rams were winning, and I was happy no matter how that winning was achieved.
But I noticed something as I journeyed from my final CIF football game in the fall of 2017 to the start of this website (JoeTorosian.com) in August of 2019. I noticed fellow Rams fans talked less about their winning and more about what they weren’t doing.
The Rams win—but they needed to run the ball better.
The Rams win—but they didn’t trust Goff.
The Rams win—but they were sick of Wade Phillips.
The Rams win—but this…but that…but the other…
They were always hacked.
I’ve been guilty of this in the past–I’m trying to refrain from it now–but all we do is complain about our teams. We complain even when they are winning!
This is insane.
I’ve often found myself enjoying games I have no emotional investment in—Baltimore-vs-Kansas City—more than I do Rams games. When the Rams play, I’m stressed, and I’m back to criticizing play calls and failings in the secondary.
In case you haven’t noticed…the Rams are 3-0.
And people are complaining. I’m back to complaining.
As a non-Dodger fan, I know 90% of their fan base is unsatisfied with seven consecutive National League West titles, and consecutive World Series appearances. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fact that they are unsatisfied, but it makes you wonder what’s it all for?
The bottom line is we enjoy the complaining so much more than we do the winning.
This isn’t confined to the fairweather LA area fans. As a Mets fan, I know what negative thinking is all about. I’ve seen the Mets rip off five wins in a row, Todd Frazier hit a game-winning home run, and Zach Wheeler go seven, allow one run, and strikeout eight…And Mets Twitter will go on blast about how the manager needs to be fired, how Frazier needs to be released, and how Wheeler should have been dealt.
No one’s happy. No one will even allow themselves to be satisfied.
The Mets went to the World Series—miraculously—in 2015 and before they even lost to the Kansas City Royals there were countless threads about how Terry Collins needed to be fired. And that was before he sent Bryan Harvey back out to pitch the ninth inning in Game Five.
When the Los Angeles Lakers were winning back to back titles in their last great run, I read thread after thread about how Kobe Bryant was hurting the team.
If you are a long-time Rams fan, then you know this attitude pre-dates the internet. From 1973 thru 1977, under Chuck Knox, the Rams won five consecutive NFC West titles. He compiled a regular-season record of 54-15-1, and the complaints weren’t only about losing in the playoffs, but that the offense wasn’t dynamic enough. The claims by the media and letters to the LA Times cried that the offense was too dull, and it needed to reflect more of the exciting LA lifestyle.
Remember this…five minutes after UCLA made its incredible comeback against Washington State last Saturday night—I’d mention “on the road,” but every Bruin football game is on the road—people were saying: “It’s nice, but it doesn’t really change anything. This team is still terrible, and Chip Kelly is still a lousy recruiter.”
No one enjoys anything about their team…Except complaining.
Maybe complaining is not the right word, maybe it’s concern?
Maybe we are only concerned about our teams and their future?
Maybe we’re more concerned about winning the future than winning in the present?
Maybe we’d rather see our teams struggle now and complain now than see them send away draft picks (“Mortgage the Future”) and complain later…as well as now.
Maybe enjoying the moment…enjoying the victory…enjoying the joy…is just too much to handle?
The Dude abides…
1 Timothy 4:8
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all five available through Amazon.com.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joet13b