I know a lot of people who claim to know a lot about football–the stats, the players, and everything that is going on. And that’s great. But for me, the ones who truly understand the nature of the game are the fans. Not people who just latch on to a great player, because they are great (I know those people). I’m talking about the people who year after year, put on a jersey and sit in front of their TV on Monday, Saturday, Sunday, and any other day of the week in order to watch their teams and players play a game that I have come to love.
I grew up with football. Sundays in the Younge household consisted of church, napping, and football. Three things that I dearly love. Today, my dad called to make sure I had a means of watching the game, and I groupme’d my siblings during the game. I’m more than unhappy with the result of the game, and I would have liked to see a much closer game, but at the end of the day, I know where I still stand and nothing has changed: I still believe in Blue (Go Colts), and I still believe that Peyton Manning is one of the top three quarterbacks to ever play this game, whether or not he ever achieves another Super Bowl ring.
Living in Miami, I have become keen to the fairweather and bandwagon fan. I believe the Dolphins and Heat fan may have invented both genre of fandom. And it has made me appreciate true fan loyalty even more. Although I do not personally care for the teams she supports, my college roommate Aley is a perfect example of fan loyalty as year after year she diligently watches and supports her teams, namely the Red Sox, the Spurs, and the Patriots. And that’s what it’s all about. You’re not always going to get it “right.” More years than not, your team won’t make it to the big game. You’ll spend countless hours cursing players on a television while loving them all the same, cheering them when they win, and crying when you see seasons come to an end. But that’s the beauty and heartbreak in fan loyalty. And it’s what even makes my job as a teacher here in Miami hard. When you know someone is giving it their all, and yet the best they present, proves not to be enough that year, it hurts. Being vulnerable hurts. Being open to love and heartbreak hurts. But there’s nothing as beautiful as when it all pays off. Nothing that satisfies quite as well, as knowing that you never gave up and when the tide turns you’ll feel as though you won it too.
So here’s to the loyal and true fans that know that the sweetest and also most bitter words are “there’s always next year.” Those who believe that things could have been worse, and things can always be better. And who year after year sit in the stands and in front of their TV, believing that hard work will eventually pay off, and when it does, they’ll be there every step of the way.