This week, staff writer Frank Friedlander uses baseball for an example to discuss devotion.
As a lifelong Cubs fan, many people, my wife included often wonder why I continue to loyally follow them despite the fact that it leads to disappointment year after year. Why not take some time off and wait until they’re ready to get their act together? Better yet, chose another team. It’s not like I’d have far to go; there’s another big league team just ten miles south of the crumbling shrine known as Wrigley Field. They even seem to win every now and then, and have taken home a championship in the lifetime of most of their fans.
My response is that true fandom isn’t something that can be turned on and off. Even if I did trade in my Cubbie Blue for black and white, I’d be just another fair weather fan, and come crawling back the moment the Cubs seemed ready to win again.
To a true, diehard fan, the game is more than just that. It’s more than a hobby, more than a pastime. It’s a way of life. Even beyond the six months, (or seven to the better teams,) in which the Cubs play, we obsess over the team’s next set of moves. Who will we trade? Who will we sign? No, I don’t work for the team, but that’s another thing. The “we” debate. There’s always someone who wants to know why fans refer to their team as “we.” Well, to us, the team is a part of who we are, a part of our identity. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. In contention and in an era in which the playoffs look to be at least a good three, or even five years away.
I’ll admit, there are often times when I wish that I could simply walk away, if even for just a little while. Just long enough for them to build a team worthy of the rabid fan base. After all, why devote such a big portion of your life to something that lets you down over and over, year after year? At what point do we simply move on. Like a lot of other Cubs fans, if I could, I would have a long time ago.
Call me weak, but I simply don’t possess the power to walk away from something that’s been so important to me for so many years, and perhaps I never will.
This past year, they have not even tried to sugarcoat the truth; they preach patience. Very ballsy to preach patience when you haven’t produced a championship for well over a century.
This being said, we’ll wait. We may not flock to the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field en-mass as we once did, but we’re still here. Watching from afar, just waiting for a sign that “next year” is on the horizon. We don’t give up hope, and we certainly don’t whore out our fandom to some other team that seems to be in a more enviable position, at least for the time being.
To some, this may sound rather crazy. However, I’m willing to be that it also sounds very familiar.