This week, Daily Campus Sports is celebrating both the highs and the lows of invested fandom with a series of personal articles telling the stories of our sports memories. This is Fandom Week.
Hi, I’m Stephanie and I’m a Mets fan.
Usually, those words are enough to elicit some sort of pity from whoever I’m talking to. Being a sports fan is all about the payoff, right? It’s all about the reward of emotionally investing yourself in a team and feeling like a part of it all when they succeed. If that’s the case, then why in the world am I sticking with a team that constantly lets me down? Why does anyone?
Now, I’m lucky enough to have been a UConn fan all my life—having four family members attend the school in some capacity doesn’t hurt. I was at the Elite Eight game against Michigan in 2014, probably one of my favorite UConn memories, even though I wasn’t a student yet. I was at the UConn men’s soccer game in the pouring rain against UC Santa Barbara, the last game Joe Morrone ever attended before he died. I camped outside of Gampel in the freezing cold to watch the UConn women make history with 100 straight wins, among other games. UConn is good, and all other schools are bad. I’m lucky in that sense (although the recent men’s basketball season really gave me some things to think about).
But not with professional sports. I am a Giants fan, but that’s not really something to flaunt these days. I’m a fair-weather Knicks and Islanders fan, but my allegiance lies with baseball. I have not yet mastered the art of creating my own happiness, so during baseball season I rely on the Mets for my happiness. It usually doesn’t go well.
I became a Mets fan after Johan Santana’s no-hitter in 2012. I casually liked them all my life, but it really took over my life after that. But the 2012 Mets sucked. The 2013 Mets sucked. The 2014 Mets sucked. The 2015 and 2016 seasons were fun, but as always, they ended in heartbreak. I’m not even ready to talk about 2017 yet.
So why do I do this? Why didn’t I just switch to the Yankees and root for a team with a competent front office? Or a city like Boston that just wins all the time in everything? Why do I put all my emotions into a team that delivers little payoff?
It’s different for everyone. Sometimes, it’s geographic—in Connecticut, you have almost a dozen teams to pick and choose from, but in somewhere like Philadelphia, you really don’t have a choice who to root for. Sometimes it runs in the family.
But humans have a need for consistency, and people feel dirty if they don’t stick to what they’ve claimed. Some people have no issue with being outright bandwagon fans, but that’s not me. Being a sports fan is somewhat of a social skill, being able to know everything about random players and statistics from decades of team history. It’s satisfying when you get to tell people “I told you so!” and being a sports fan is the embodiment of that.
Being a fan allows you to feel like you’re a part of the team, even though at the end of the day, the result of a game has no tangible impact on your life. Being able to get lost in something, making your team’s successes yours is a euphoria you can only experience for yourself.
I’m a big fan of underdog teams because I think it’s much more fun that way. Any sports fan can tell you that comebacks are a lot more fun than blowouts, and being a fan of an underdog team is like one huge comeback. Nothing in my life will ever compare to the 2015 Mets season because it was such pure joy to watch the team go from awful to amazing. Runs like that make being a fan of an otherwise horrible team worth it.
Being a sports fan parallels life. You put money, time and energy into it, and the greater the investment, the greater the payoff once something goes right. As a sports fan, you need to hope your team will eventually do well or else it really does become depressing. I have to believe the 2018 Mets will win the division because if I just think negatively all the time, then what’s even the point of rooting for the team? In life, you have to hope you will get out of rock bottom or else you’ll be stuck there forever.
I joined Twitter in 2012 to interact with more Mets fans, but more importantly, to get out of rock bottom. I had to believe that making this investment would eventually pay off because I didn’t want to wallow in my own misery forever. Five years later, there are very important relationships in my life that would have never happened without Twitter, and by extension, the Mets. Citi Field is my summer home. My love for baseball has become something I might want to turn into a career. My terrible team goes beyond the on-field product: I was able to turn it into something positive for my life.
So why do I root for a terrible team? Because on June 1, 2012, I made the conscious decision to let the Mets become my life. And while they haven’t yet accomplished ultimate glory, the Mets not only changed my life for the better; they were able to help me overcome some things I don’t think I could have ever done alone.
Ya really gotta believe.
Stephanie Sheehan is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @steph_sheehan.