This is the text I sent to a good buddy recently as the clock wound down on my favorite basketball team’s season:
“I hate sports. I don’t think any of my teams have ever won a championship. I now expect my teams to lose. I never thought we had a chance today. I would have been more surprised had we won. Yay.”
The crazy thing was just after I sent that text, my favorite major college team, the University of Michigan, miraculously came back to beat the Kansas Jayhawks in the Sweet 16 and prolong their season for a few more games. They ultimately lost in a heartbreaking loss to Louisville in the finals. And yet that finals loss wasn’t surprising; it was rather expected.
This must be what it felt like to be a Boston Red Sox fan for those decades of painful losses.
My earliest memories are of going to games at my eventual alma mater Whitworth College (now University) with my dad when I was four years old. A year later we moved from Spokane, Washington to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I spent hours in our garage shooting around on our Michigan Wolverines hoop with my dad.
I feel like around the age of five, you begin to become aware of the world. That year in Michigan coincided with the most recognizable team in the last 50 years—if not ever: the Fab Five. I loved the Fab Five. Chris Webber and Jalen Rose were my earliest favorite players.
When my family moved back to Spokane the next year, I started to watch the Washington teams—Washington State University, and the Seattle pro teams. I remember going to Mariners games with my dad in the Kingdome in the mid-90s and my first Seahawks game was with my dad when the Seahawks faced the Buffalo Bills, who were quarterbacked by Washington State legend Drew Bledsoe.
The problem was that, while some of my favorite players had success (Bledsoe winning the Super Bowl with the Patriots), my teams continued to suffer excruciating losses.
The ’93 Michigan basketball team and the infamous Chris Webber timeout in the national championship, the ’96 Whitworth basketball team losing in the national championship in overtime, the 2001 Seattle Mariners—who won the most games in the history of baseball—didn’t even make the World Series, the 2003 Mead High School (my senior year) team losing to Franklin High School in the state finals, the 2006 Seattle Seahawks losing a close game to the Pittsburgh Steelers that many impartial parties have blamed on the refs, and now the 2013 Michigan basketball team. Even when Whitworth was ranked the overall no. 1 seed in the 2011 NCAA Div. III tournament, they didn’t make the finals after getting hosed by the NCAA who decided to fly them for a road game in Ohio in the Elite 8 rather than hosting the game as the overall top seed.
The point is: I’m used to losing.
I was hoping this year would be different, but the promising Seahawks lost on a crazy ending in the NFL playoffs, Whitworth lost at home in the tournament to the team that eventually made it to the national championship just two rounds later, and Michigan lost to Louisville by six points.
This is just my emo rant, but at this point I truly would be more surprised to be on the winning end of a championship game.
I guess there’s always next year.