For those of us who regularly follow sports and have specific teams that we always root for, a big loss can be very tough to take. As a lifelong fan of the Atlanta Braves, a 25 (plus) year fan of the Georgia Bulldogs and a former season ticket holder for the Atlanta Falcons, I know this as well as anyone.
This past December, my Georgia Bulldogs lost a heartbreakingly close Southeastern Conference Championship Game [SECCG] to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Here’s some of what I posted on Twitter after that loss:
I went in search of those tweets after seeing how fans of the Seattle Seahawks were conducting themselves on Twitter after their team lost to the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game. While not happy about some of what the Seahawks fans were tweeting, I was fairly certain that when Georgia lost the SECCG that I had probably expressed my disappointment, heartbreak (and bitterness) in a similar manner. After re-reading my Twitter feed from December 1st-December 2nd, and after going through many of the tweets that were posted under the hashtag: Seahawks, I’ve come up with a theory.
And here it is:
The Five Stages of Grief, though originally identified by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross as pertaining specifically to death and dying, can be applied to almost every type of meaningful loss that we experience in life–including those that relate to sports.
And to illustrate my point, I’ve *curated a collection of tweets from Seahawks fans that were posted in the period immediately following their team’s loss up until almost 24 hours later. I am not trying to pick on the Seattle fans–not at all. They are famously known for their role as the “12th Man,” so I thought that their post-loss behavior would make an excellent case study.
Stage 1: Denial.
Stage 2: Anger.
Stage 3: Bargaining.
Stage 4: Depression.
Stage 5: Acceptance.
And because this is my blog (and my social experiment), I am going to add a sixth stage: Grace.
How do you handle it when your favorite team loses a big (or little) game?
*All of the tweets that I’ve shared here were posted publicly on Twitter.
In case you haven’t heard, the San Diego Chargers won the AFC West and are in the playoffs. This is understandably big news in my neck of the woods. So big in fact, that companies are holding contests to see which individual employee or division can display the most Charger spirit. The mayor has installed two 40-foot-long lighting bolts (they can only be seen night) on the outside of San Diego’s City Hall and declared yesterday “San Diego Super Charger Day.” Fans are wearing their bolts gear everywhere and all the time. The people of San Diego are excited! Me, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I think all of this is great. I am genuinely happy for the people who are over-the-top excited about the possibility of the Chargers playing in the Super Bowl, I just find it a bit weird to feel like an outsider looking in. For almost 20 years I resided in the state in which the teams I root for are located. In case you are new to this blog, that would be Georgia. It is odd to be such a passionate fan myself and to have such a huge event taking place here tomorrow–the divisional playoff game between the Chargers and the Jets–and not to feel, well, passionately about it!
Over the course of a year I expend a lot of energy (probably too much) keeping up with the University of Georgia’s Bulldogs (not just football either), the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks and various professional tennis players. It is probably a good thing (for my heart at least) that I can once in a while assume the dispassionate view. I know that is true intellectually. However, being someone who truly enjoys the adrenaline rush that occurs when the team I follow is involved in a playoff or pennant race or a championship quest, I feel a bit left out.
It is times like this when I am most aware that while I love living in San Diego and will probably do so for the rest of my days, I won’t ever cut my emotional ties to Georgia. When the Padres play the Braves, I will be at Petco Park sporting my hat with the pink A. On the rare occasion that the Falcons make the trip west to San Diego, as they did in 2008, I will be there too, rocking Norwood’s number 32. Other than that, I wish all the San Diego teams well and I do hope the Chargers make it to Miami. If they do, I will be very excited for their fans and I’ll probably get to attend a darn good party.
Who would you like to see in the Super Bowl? And if you are a transplant, how do you handle rooting for your team(s) from afar?