Whenever I used to see an episode of Oprah or Dr. Phil and they had on battered wives who would not leave their abusive husbands I felt little pity for them.
I used to think that they were partially responsible for staying in this abusive situation. I vowed that I would never allow myself to stay in a relationship that caused me daily emotional pain.
Recently I have gradually woken up to the reality that I am just as guilty as these battered spouses by continuing my daily relationship with the Washington Redskins.
The parallels are eerily similar.
Both the abused spouse and the abused fan put up with the current situation by remembering the wonderful things that made us fall in love with them in the first place.
Doug Williams. John Riggins. Counter-trey. The Posse. Darryl Green. Joe Gibbs.
These are wonderful memories. But the reality has been terrible for me for the majority of my adult life.
Every off-season I wait in anticipation that this year it will be different. Every week I am hurt by the disgraceful performance of my favorite team. Yet it is my fault for putting myself through this abuse.
Many of us football fans have grown up loving one team. We stick with them through many trials and tribulations. We scoff at those people who can switch teams according to their level of success. We even have a derisive name for these people.
Fair weather fans.
But maybe these people are the emotionally mature fans. They stay in a relationship with a team when everything is good and get out of it when things go bad. They seem to enjoy football, and I have never seen these fans scream at a TV or break something out of frustration.
I have never missed watching a Redskin game in my life. Until today.
I had been invited to watch the game with several friends at a local bar. I knew what would happen, but I made plans to go anyway.
Three hours before kickoff I came down with an upset stomach. As I lay on the couch I started to think rationally.
If I go watch this game I will get upset. I will keep my daughter up past her bedtime. My stomach ache will get worse and I will regret watching the game.
I had finally had enough. I didn’t go and watch the game. And for the first time in ages I didn’t get nervous or angry over a Redskin game. I felt good.
I did check on the game online a few times. I thought (like a battered spouse) that the team might respond positively if I wasn’t there to support their pathetic behavior.
The score was 17-7. I was impressed that the Skins actually scored a touchdown in the first half, so I followed a series online.
The very next play Randle-El muffed the punt return and the Eagles recovered on the 23 yard line. I went to a different website.
I returned late in the third quarter. The Redskins were down 27-10, but they had just forced the Eagles to punt. The punt was shanked and the Skins got the ball on the Eagles’ 32 yard line.
On the first play Portis ran four yards to the 28. I thought that at the very least they could get three points. On second down Campbell threw an incomplete pass. On third down he was sacked for an 8 yard loss, putting them out of field goal range.
I felt like the wife who had given her husband one last chance.
Overall though, I felt much better than if I had actually watched the game. My only sadness occurred when I read that Chris Cooley was hurt and would miss the rest of the season.
I would like to say that this experience has taught me a valuable lesson, and I won’t put myself back into a no win relationship.
But now that I understand how similar I am to a battered wife I know that despite my best intentions I may return to be abused by this team again.