The problem with rooting against teams: While We’re Waiting

Happy Friday to everyone! Today is a special Friday because it’s also my birthday. I’m 38-years-old today and it hits me especially hard knowing that this site just turned nine this year. That means I was 30 when I started writing here in September of 2008. That means that not only am I officially becoming an old man, but I’ve also now spent OVER 21% of my life as a member of the WFNY community. TWENTY. ONE. PERCENT. Of my life. On these pages. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road.

Before I get to the real content, let me tell you about Patreon. We’ve lost a couple people and gained one. We don’t begrudge the departed. We thank them for giving us a month or two of support. Our mission is ongoing. We’ve been having meetings behind the scenes to figure out the way forward. I’ve been giving out t-shirts, ordering stickers, and I even negotiated a special discount at a local t-shirt company that’s only for our Patreon supporters. These kinds of benefits can be yours and you can be a part of making WFNY a better place.

Rooting for a team to lose

The problem with rooting against a team rather than for a team is you’re destined to feel bad no matter what. Even when you “win,” it’s more about someone else losing. In my experience, that feels pretty temporary and empty in the eventual. I was really disappointed the day after Tom Brady and the Patriots won yet another Super Bowl championship, but I wouldn’t have felt that great if they’d lost either. I wasn’t rooting for Atlanta except as a convenient vessel to exact defeat to the New England Patriots. For the majority of the game, it seemed that the Atlanta Falcons would deliver exactly that until they gave up 31 unanswered points. And there I sat, without a dog in the fight, feeling sorry about a result that I should have just taken in with general interest regardless of the outcome. For whatever reason, I’m just not wired that way.

I talked about it on the podcast, but when Scott and I took in Game 7 of the World Series, there were some guys from New York at the game. They were decked out in Cubs and Indians gear about 50-50 among them. They were sports tourists, and they were there to see history and revel in the result no matter which way it went. As they spoke of their private jet and respect for sports history, I couldn’t really imagine going to something knowing you were going to jump up and down and celebrate at the end either way. I don’t know what that’s like. I have no doubt in my mind those guys were at the Super Bowl last week. Remembering those guys, I couldn’t help but picture them celebrating the Patriots win for all the historical significance of the overtime game and the comeback the same as they would have celebrated a Falcons’ victory had they held on.

For me, that kind of rooting is a lot of wishful thinking. Of course, the great seats and private jet are a part of that, but I need to have a rooting interest to watch sports. I spoke extensively about this when LeBron James was gone and how I had no interest watching the NBA when the Cavaliers were unwatchable. My rooting interest was the Cavaliers, and I’m not interested in being a general NBA fan. That meant if I was going to pay attention to the NBA Finals at all, I had to do so with the intent of rooting against LeBron James. Obviously, I paid some attention to the headlines, but trust me when I tell you I didn’t watch those games. When the Mavericks clinched, I was in Akron watching David Bazan play a set at Musica. I didn’t want to be in it just to root against someone, but even that is a serious devotion to rooting in a way.

I tried to be a good citizen and not root against a team too hard, but it was intoxicating. It wasn’t intoxicating like the fun way things are in your younger days when you ride out hangovers with greasy food and lazy days. This was intoxicating in the way that parents with young kids occasionally overdo it and pay the price double the next day when they don’t have the option of drowning their overindulgences with rest, diners, and the hair of the dog.

I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Do the rest of you engage in negative rooting and then feel it when the result doesn’t go your way? Are there some of you that can engage in pure sports tourism where you can enjoy an event for whatever it turns out to be without wearing it on your sleeve? Most importantly, are there some of you who used to be hopeless and were able to come around and get better? I’m looking for that, but I don’t know if I’m even able to do it.

Stipe Miocic’s next match is set for UFC 211

One of the most electric experiences of my life happened in 2016 in Quicken Loans Arena and it wasn’t related to the Cavaliers. Stipe Miocic defending his title in his hometown and winning was absolutely incredible. It’s something I’ll never forget. After some time off, Stipe’s next title defense is officially on the schedule for May 13, 2017 when he looks to avenge a loss to Junior Dos Santos with everything on the line. I can’t wait to watch this fight, and I obviously hope Stipe Miocic wins because I’m a homer, but there’s another reason too. Stipe Miocic deserves a chance to avenge this loss because I still don’t think he actually lost the fight.

Obviously, when you leave a fight in the hands of the judges, you must live with the results. Stipe has had to live with that loss and was able to overcome it, but I don’t think if the same fight ensued today that the reigning champ would lose his belt to Junior dos Santos. Let me say it again. If a carbon copy fight took place today exactly as it played out last time, the only difference would be that they wouldn’t strip the reigning champ and they’d raise Stipe’s hand in victory.

Back when Stipe faced off against Junior, Junior was the bigger name and the former heavyweight champ. Stipe was on a three-fight winning streak over Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabio Maldonado. His match against Junior was a real arrival among the contenders in the heavyweight class. Junior had the belt from November 2011 when he beat Cain Velasquez, until December 2012 when Cain won a rematch. When Stipe arrived on his calendar, Cain was coming off a loss where he was unable to win the Velasquez rubber match. So he was a former champ coming off an unsuccessful title fight and we’ve seen it before in MMA when there’s a different burden of proof on the up and coming fighter than there is on the familiar name.

I’ll always think that Stipe Miocic won that fight, however. He easily won the first two rounds. He probably lost a round between the third and fourth, and maybe both, but I always thought Stipe won the fifth and final round to take the fight. I know I’m biased, but if you read any of the coverage during that time, it was a controversial decision.

None of that matters now. Stipe is the reigning champion. Junior dos Santos needs to win convincingly enough to take that belt away from Stipe Miocic. Stipe has never been better, as he looks to make it five wins in a row after beating Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, and Alistair Overeem in succession. This time he’ll have to defend his title in Dallas, but he should at least get the benefit of the doubt this time if it goes the distance and it’s close.

Did you check out this week’s podcasts?

There were some really good ones, I think.

That’s it from me this week. Thanks so much for being here. Enjoy your weekend! Feel free to discuss anything in the comments. You know WWW is kind of an open thread, but I don’t know if I say it out loud often enough.