I’ve discovered a glitch in the sports Matrix, and I’m exploiting the hell out of it. Teams I’ve supported for years inevitably go down in flames, either in single games (’86 and ’87 Browns, ’97 Indians) or as a franchise (Browns since 1999, Cavs since The Decision). But teams I cheer for during a brief period of time–teams I have never cared about before in my life–they tend to have spectacular success.
Some people call this being a bandwagon fan. That’s fine. Thing is, when you’ve watched as much atrocious Cleveland sports as I have, and you keep coming back, you know you’re not a bandwagon fan. You’re a really loyal fan who is looking for a reason to enjoy watching sports again. We need a name for this–Bragwagon. I’m a Bragwagon Fan.
As far as my happiness as a sports fan goes, I’m at an all-time low, which is saying something, because I have been a Cleveland sports fan for 30-some years now. The Browns, Cavs and Indians are terrible. I know–the Indians were OK last year and are knocking on the door of mediocrity this year. The fact that they could be good and aren’t actually makes it worse.
I like sports, and desperate times call for desperate measures, so…
On June 1, with the Kings facing the Blackhawks in Game 7 and a trip to the finals on the line, I declared myself a Los Angeles Kings fan and watched my first hockey game on television from start to finish. The Kings won in overtime in what was an amazing game, and then they went on to win the Stanley Cup. This is one of the most fun teams I’ve ever watched. Every game seemed to go to overtime, and you never felt like the Kings were ever out of it. Will I ruin a potential Kings’ dynasty by following them next season? Hell, no. Regular season hockey is boring. The dynasty is safe until next post-season, when I will care again. That’s life on the Bragwagon.
Then on June 5 I started rooting for another team I didn’t care about–the Spurs. They beat the Heat to win the NBA Finals. I know the Spurs are great, but they’re not one of those teams like the old Celtics, Bulls or Lakers where you know something exciting could happen at any moment and so you have to watch them and after a while you dig their style. The Spurs are the sports equivalent of accounting. I’ve never been drawn to them, in spite of their greatness. But the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And this year we did great things together, the Spurs and me.
I realized last week I was on a roll, so I turned my allegiance to the USA World Cup team. I don’t care about soccer. If I have to choose between non-World Cup soccer and watching “Pretty Little Liars” with my wife, well, we’re going to get to the bottom of who killed Alison DiLaurentis. But I like the World Cup, and I declared Team USA my Team of Destiny, and the Bragwagon rolled on with a win against Ghana.
When my friend Dave asked how come my sports cheering is so bad for Cleveland teams and so good for everyone else, I told him it’s because my sports loyalty is so intense that to be exposed to it for too long causes teams to melt down, like Icarus’s wings when he flew too close to the sun. But my support, received in brief bursts, supplies teams with the extra boost they need to win championships.
If Team USA advances out of Group Play–which would be a championship of sorts for a long-suffering national team–let’s remember amid all of the back-patting and congratulations that the players had something to do with it, too.
Image via FIFA