Monday, November 01, 2010

Win or Else?

After the New York Football Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys last Monday night, and—more significant to this story—knocked Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo out of action for the next 6-8 weeks, I thought about sending an old friend a text message offering my condolences on the end of his team's season. Said friend is a Dallas fan, of course. I knew that, in the process, he would return my dig by denigrating the Yankees, but I didn't care.

I never sent that text, not because I feared the repercussions, but simply because I forgot. Still, it got me to thinking about what constitutes a successful season for a sports franchise. Not from the perspective of players, coaches and front office personnel of the team, but from the point of view of the fans.

As spectators, what is our primary motivation for watching our favorite sports? I'm sure the answer varies a little from person to person, but I think the common denominator is entertainment. That is, we watch a game because it is enjoyable to us. Does it get any simpler than that?

Taking it a step further, why do we choose to follow a particular team, rather than just let ourselves be entertained by individual games in which we're less personally invested in the outcomes? I would assume the answers to that question would vary a little more than the first, but, still I think it boils down to increased entertainment level.

So, my point here is really to ask the question, is the only entertainment value associated with rooting for a specific team to witness them win a championship? If the answer is yes, then it's a pretty said state of affairs, because that means we spend 5-6 months a year worrying about an outcome that most likely will never happen.

I contend that the answer, in fact, is no. We root for a specific team because it provides us with added entertainment value, and that value is measured on a spectrum, rather than being an absolute either/or proposition. That is, the more successful our team's season, the more entertainment value they've provided us with. If they kept us believing they had a chance to win a championship for almost seven months—and survived only two weeks less than the most successful teams—then they did a very good job of entertaining us.

Don't get me wrong, here. I'm not saying I'll ever take consolation in a season that exceeds expectations, especially when it comes to the Yankees. In fact, it could be argued that, since the Yankees can never truly exceed expectations, that a little entertainment value is foregone just being a fan of theirs. But, that's a road I've been down before, and I have no intention of going there right now.

What I am saying is I'm not going to let myself get sucked into that 29-losers-and-only-one-winner mentality. I enjoyed my team's success for much of the season, despite being briefly disappointed in its final outcome. In the end, though, it provided me with a great deal of entertainment, something that I suspect Dallas Cowboys fans will be sorely lacking for the rest of this year.


  1. I agree. As a long suffering Mets fan, and worse yet, a long suffering Buffalo Bills fan, there's no way I can be focused on championships! In the case of the NFL, I usually give up on the Bills after a few games, switch allegiances to a team with only slighly more playoff potential (my NFC favorite Redskins), and then ultimately end up pulling for the Giants, the Steelers, or anyone playing against Dallas in the playoffs.

  2. Thanks for comment, David. I guess this year you won't be able to play the "anyone playing against Dallas" card, but I'm sure you can live with that.