The Trials of Being a Passionate Fan of a Bad Team

The Trials of Being a Passionate Fan of a Bad Team

The stage of going through a season as a fan of a team that always disappoints.

Last week, I wrote a piece on how horrible the organization known as the Washington Redskins have become, letting an epidemic of instability take over the organization and dealing with a defiant owner who makes himself look like an incredible simpleton.

Even though I'm not a Redskins fan, I know what those fans are going through. I'm a UVa football fan.

Stop laughing.

Look, it's been three years since UVa has had a winning season and eleven years since UVa beat Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. To say it's hell being a UVa football fan is a gross understatement. I have to give myself pep talks before games just so I can find the motivation to put myself through another game. And let me tell you, it's hard. Especially when you're offensive coordinator is obsessed with running the ball twice and then throwing a screen on third down! It's even worse WHEN THE ASSOCIATE AD KEEPS SCHEDULING TEAMS WE ALL KNOW WE CAN'T BEAT JUST BECAUSE REASONS...

Sorry. I promise I'm not crazy.

Many people ask why I keep going back when I know I'm going to get depressed, and tell me that it's just a game. Here's some advice, telling a passionate fan of a bad team that it's just a game, after a loss, is not the best way to get them to realize they're a bit too impassioned. It's like telling someone who is in a fight to calm down.

It will only enrage them even more.

For those of you who don't understand what it's like, let me take you through the experience. Let me help you contemplate what we go through so that you can act accordingly the next time your faced with a bad team's passionate fanatic.

1. We Build This Year Up As Our Year

Every year is started out with hope and belief. We look at the rosters, we analyze preseason practices, and we build our hopes up that this will be the team that finally does it. We become invested in the group of players who have come together. To us, these players don't just play for themselves and their dreams of becoming better athletes. They represent us and our dreams.

Sure, there are teams where you immediately know that no matter what, the team won't succeed. We all have that place in the back of our minds where we know our team is not going to do well and they're not as good as we think. Yet, we'll find a way to convince ourselves that they can do it.

It's like playing the lottery. You know the chances of actually winning are slim and none, which will make the victory that much sweeter when you OVERCOME THE ODDS.

2. Season Starts...And So Does the Pain

When the actual games begin, the pain starts.

In the first game of the season, UVa squared off against UCLA in the Rose Bowl. I, like many others, had myself convinced that the Cavaliers could pull off the upset. They drove the ball down the field and scored a field goal on their first possession. Then, they stopped UCLA and got the ball back. The over excitement was overflowing.

It didn't last long.

UCLA proceed to have their way with my Hoos, romping them 34-16. Now, what I just did for you was I made it seem like it was a fast execution. Oh, no, this was not fast at all. This was a slow-moving, long-winded beat down of my hopes and dreams. It was a solemn call back down to reality from my euphoric place of celebration and happiness.

After the build up from the preseason, the long fall back to Earth is a painful one. It feels like your dreams are smashed into pieces as the reality sets in that your team is bad. Very bad. All that confidence you felt has now turned into depression and sadness that you have to sit through more games like this.

3. Heartbreak

There are going to be those games where your team shows up. They compete with a team they may not be as good as, but dang it, they're giving it all they got. Finally, hope for the season.

On Saturday, I got to go see UVa take on the ninth ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. What I expected to be a blowout turned out to be a shootout at Scott Stadium. With 1:54, UVa scored a touchdown to go up 27-26. It was our destiny. It was, at long last, our time to have some luck go our way.

Then, this:

Heartbreak city.

I still can't fully bring myself to get past this moment. From tears of joy to tears of utter frustration and devastation.

Sometimes, being a fan of a bad team hurts worse when they play well. In the end, they give you a glimpse at what you could be. They tease you with how well they play, only to come up on the short end of the stick. As a fan, I'd much rather be blown out than beaten at the last second and have that moment snatched away.

With either one comes the inevitable reaction as we travel down the rocky year.

4. The Anger

As the season continues, your sadness turns into anger.

The anger makes you do stuff you probably will regret later on, but don't regret at the moment. Your team is so bad, the anger just can't be held.

That anger, however, doesn't just turn into violent actions. See, most people have that filter between their brain and their mouth that helps them to not say stupid things. When you root for a bad team, you risk losing that filter and say stuff that makes absolutely no sense.

Fans will call for coaches to be fired, saying things like, "I could do a better job coaching this team." Clearly, you absolutely have no shot at being anywhere near as good of a coach as a fan, but some actually mean it. They're brains are so decimated by their anger, they'll believe anything.

I've actually heard an angry fan scream at a college athlete that he would kill him. A few things need to be pointed out here. One, I'm a passionate fan, but to threaten a college kid because you don't like the way he's playing show's me more about the fan than the student-athlete. Two, let me just give you a loose depiction of what this fan looked like:

I don't want to be mean, but there is no way in hell a guy like this is going to get one shot in on an athlete in his 20s. This wasn't so much beer-muscles as much as it was angry fan just having no brain.

Still, as the season drags, this kind of stupidity due to madness becomes a norm. The only thing to calm this anger down is for the season to end.

4. The Season Ends and We Think We Get a Break


You can finally get away from the continued negativity. Sure, there were probably some good moments during the season, but overall, you didn't have all that much to smile about. Looking back, we try to find things to make us laugh about, but it's more effective to just erase the horrible season from the old memory bank.

The problem is that when a bad season ends, there are still other teams with good season who make the postseason. We watch those teams, see them play well, and do this:

I feel you, Animal.

You never truly get a break. We follow the team so passionately that we constantly think about them. Even when they don't play, we can't help but compare them to good teams and just imagine what it's like. It stings and lingers with you. What should be a time to decompress doesn't truly come until the start of the next season.

Which means:

5. The Vicious Cycle Continues

We're fans. What else can we do?

When UVa started the football season this year, I tweeted: "I don't know why I always come back, I just love you too much UVa. #HOOS #BeatUCLA"

That depicts being a fan of a bad team. Our loyalty stays intact, even if we know what the results will be. We can't help it. Your heart wants what your heart wants.

If you have an encounter with a passionate fan of a bad team, you will undoubtedly deal with one of these stages, probably more. Please understand, it's nothing personal with you. We don't hate you, we don't not like you. You've just engaged us at the wrong time. We know you want to help, but it just isn't the right time yet. Just give us time, we always get over it.


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Cheerleading is something you'll never forget. It takes hard work, dedication, and comes with its ups and downs. Here are some statements that every cheerleader, past and present, know to be true.

1. You always had bobby pins with you.

2. Fear shot through you if you couldn't find your spankees right away and thought you left them at home.

3. You accumulated about 90 new pairs of tennis shoes...

4. ...and about 90 new bows, bags, socks, and warm ups.

5. When you hear certain songs from old cheer dance mixes it either ruins your day or brings back happy memories.

6. And chances are, you still remember every move to those dances.

7. Sometimes you catch yourself standing with your hands on your hips.

8. You know the phrase, "One more time, ladies" all too well.

9. The hospitality rooms were always one of the biggest perks of going to tournaments (at least for me).

10. You got really tired of hearing, "Point your toes."

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11. If you left the gym at half-time to go get something, you better be back by the time the boys run back out.

12. You knew how awkward it could be on the bus rides home after the boys lost.

13. But you also knew how fun it could be if they won.

14. Figuring out line-up was extremely important – especially if one of your members was gone.

15. New uniforms were so exciting; minus the fact that they cost a fortune.

16. You know there was nothing worse than when you called out an offense cheer but halfway through, you had to switch to the defense version because someone turned over the ball.

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18. UCA Cheer Camp cheers and chants still haunt you to this day.

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Don't Be That Ole Miss Fan Who Leaves When Our Teams Need Our Support The Most

While most of the students and some of the fans ditched before the 4th quarter, it really surprised me how little support we showed our struggling team.


After the beating we took last week from #1 Alabama, we all wanted to steer off the stadium until the next weekend. However, losing to the number one team in the nation shouldn't be depressing; they are number one for a reason.

While most of the students and some of the fans ditched before the 4th quarter, it really surprised me how little support we showed our struggling team. Yes, the game was exciting for a solid 11 seconds, but that doesn't mean that we should abort ship so soon.

I even caught myself wishing they would run the clock around the 3rd quarter, feeling as if this game was never going to end. And it wasn't until the very end of the game that I realized what we had been missing.

We had been missing support for our team. But not just football this weekend but every sport we have. If it isn't one of the big three, do you even care? I know that I didn't and sometimes still don't. Does anyone go to the women's rifle events? Do you know when the softball team plays? Do you even know if we have a hockey team?

Being an Ole Miss fan doesn't mean that we love either football, basketball, or baseball. Being an Ole Miss fan means that we love all three, and every other sport our students participate in.

I've heard from some members of the band that they were so impressed with the Vanderbilt student section, not because they were the rowdiest or best, but because after the football game, they all stayed, stood, and sang to their Alma Mater.

Do any of us even know our Alma Mater? I've met seniors who didn't even know we had one! Yes, its plastered on all the cups this year. Yes, its posted around campus. But do you know it, by heart? If you heard the tune, could you even identify it, much less sing along to it? Do you even know the words?

I'll be the first to tell you that I don't. I have approximately 20 or so cups that have it printed on there, yet I do not know the Ole Miss Alma Mater.

So, when we were getting ready to leave the game, it warmed and saddened my heart when our song played. It warmed my heart to see the remaining student section come together to sing and sway to our Alma Mater, but it saddened me to see how little of people there were to participate, especially since the stadium was packed mere hours earlier.

And if that isn't bad enough, our student section was a quarter empty after the 1st quarter. Imagine being a football player, looking out into the crowd to see your supporters and a quarter of them are gone before the beginning of the 2nd quarter. And every time you look back as the game progresses, more and more are gone until a small portion is left over, cheering you on.

Now, imagine that you are any other athlete in a non-recognized sport. Imagine all the hours you put into training, all the things that you have to miss out on, just for no one to be there supporting you. How disappointed would you feel?

We are an SEC school! We are a big deal! We are in the best conference in the world, competing against some of the best athletes across the country, and as a student and fan of this school, we should show our support not only to the big three but to all of them!

I dare you to branch out and go watch another sport! Stay for the full game, even if it takes all day. Try a new sport, it could be your favorite! Do it for the free t-shirts, do it for the concessions, do it for the free or cheap admissions fee. I don't care why you do it, but be like Nike and "just do it!" That is how we can be better! That is how we can be a better Ole Miss fan!

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