AN OPEN LETTER FROM AN OPTIMISTIC SPORTS FAN
Recently, a close friend and I were both watching the same game — UW women’s basketball was playing at hated rival fifth-ranked Oregon. Despite coming in to the game as massive underdogs, the Huskies had managed to stay close, trailing by just one point at halftime.
Did it seem like they were going to win? Probably not. Was it much better than the team had shown in recent games, both in terms of visible effort and performance versus expectations? Absolutely.
Her reaction? “I expect this to be a 20-point deficit quickly.”
She has a very legitimate gripe about the overall trajectory of Husky women’s basketball. A team that was in the Final Four just three years ago won just a single conference game last year and seems likely to suffer a similar fate this year.
Mike Neighbors, their previous coach, bolted after the final postseason run for the same job at the University of Arkansas, where his family lives, leaving a gutted roster with very little recruitment set up for the future. Their new head coach, Jody Wynn, has not been able to restock the roster very quickly, leaving an on-court product that leaves plenty to be desired.
In this instance, the Huskies ended up grabbing the lead for a few brief moments before falling flat in the final few minutes and losing by 13, which was still a far better margin than anyone was expecting. What could be viewed as a significant moral victory was instead flushed away in the minds of some as “just another loss.”
The primary reason that spectator sports even exist is to provide entertainment to fans. If you can’t appreciate small successes within an overall disappointing product, you need to find something else to do with your time — or become one of those hybrid Yankees/Patriots/Warriors fans, so you have almost nothing to complain about.
Wanting your team to do better is completely reasonable. So is lodging complaints when you don’t think things are being handled the way they should be. But when you spend so much time complaining about what could be better, you end up saying more negative things about your own team than positive ones. Can you even call yourself a “fan” at that point, or are you just a cynic?
So, go ahead and gripe when your team sucks. But don’t forget to enjoy the good times, too.
An eternal (sports) optimist