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To my good-for nothing excuse for a college football team,
Let’s call this shared experience between you and me what it really is: Stockholm Syndrome. An abusive relationship with a messed up power ratio that derives from you finding new ways to sucker punch me square in the stomach each and every fall. The kind of vicious cycle of abuse where all the decaying carcass of a once-proud man can do is take out my irrational vulnerability against the nearest piece of drywall, because I AM A MAN AND NOW THAT PLASTERED INANIMATE OBJECT CAN BE THE ONE WHO FEELS USELESS FOR ONCE.
You’d think by now I’d have learned my lesson. That after each season of getting tricked by the reality of perpetual .500 ball, I would have mustered the strength to once and for all walk away. To say no more to receivers who couldn’t catch the flu, let alone a simple 5-yard slant over the middle. You’d think that, one day, it’d have dawned on me that the myth of an above-average secondary on this team is a more far-fetched fairytale than Snow White slumming it with seven dwarfs for a few months because some apple-loving tart and a talking mirror have a vendetta against her. Thanks to you jerks and all your talk about “potential,” I don’t know where reality ends and my horrific nightmare fuel begins, and frankly, I’ve stopped caring.
After a while, it just gets hard to keep doing this to myself. My gut tells me to keep smiling. My logic tells me that the law of averages dictates it’s only a matter of time before this team finds greatness. My faith tells me everything happens for a reason. And yet, it’s the silent numbness in my ears anytime I hear our bumbling head coach stumble through a presser that ultimately rings loudest.
There’s just so much blame to pass around. It’d be easy to point fingers at our prepubescent offensive line. Hell, blaming the local police would work just fine, considering that half of this team is made up of felons. And honestly, if those players, all of whom are 6’4” and above, were stupid enough to think that they could dine-and-dash at Red Lobster without being noticed, then the question to be begged shouldn’t be “are they smart enough to lead this year’s defense,” but rather “how are those mouth breathers in college?”
I’m no psychic, but I can see it unfolding now. Weeks one through four will pass, and this team will lure me in all over again heading into conference play. My clenched hands will lower. My grimace will slowly be erased. My head will once again be tricked into falling off the swivel. And then, like clockwork, we’ll be undefeated, hope will flicker in pandora’s box, and it’ll be Rivalry Week. My drinking will teeter on the line of not drinking to forget, but drinking to celebrate.
Just. One. Rivalry. Week. Victory. That is all I need. God in Heaven, just give me this one week, that’s all I ask. One week where I don’t have to hang my embarrassed head until basketball season whenever I’m in the presence of those arrogant sons of guns and their legions of Walmart fans. And just as a few scoreboard digits change for the better and my guard lowers ever so slightly, BAM. Sucker punch.
Except, can you really call something a sucker punch if you knew it was coming all along?
Really, the only person who I can blame for all this abuse is that idiot looking back at me in the mirror glass. The one who has been seeing the same 1000-yard stare in his parents’ eyes for all his life, and still made the decision to go through with this school choice out of some misplaced delusion that maybe, just maybe, I’ll have it different than they did anytime they watched heartbreak after heartbreak unfold annually. Because I’m just so special like that, right? Or, the more likely diagnosis, it’s because maybe rooting for a loser is just in my blood.
Alas, that’s my fate. I know that as soon as I hear that Saturday morning whistle that kicks off the marching band’s beats, I’ll still come running out like a depressed version of Pavlov’s dog conditioning.
And so, I’ll go through the motions, and I’ll boil crawfish, and throw on my gameday blazer. I’ll surround myself with hundreds of people dancing and raging during tailgate regardless of it being in joy or sorrow.
Worst of all, I’ll talk myself into thinking this is our year. Try as I might to fight it, I know that I’m still going to be standing up in the student section, screaming the fight song until I’m hoarse, living and dying on the dream of watching this team play in a mid-December bowl game sponsored by a third-rate barbeque restaurant, because at the end of the day, it’s ME who’s the idiot.
So thank you, my football team, for leaving me a tarnished, failure-embracing shell of a man whose battle cry has become “welp…there’s always next year.”
This is what I get for going to a basketball school.
Go to hell.