I've always said that it's harder to be a fan for a good team than it is to be a fan for a bad team.
It always hurts to lose, but when you know you're the underdog, you can usually tip your hat to the victor, knowing you did not possess the tools for victory.
But when failure is not expected, it stings that much more.
As I watched my beloved San Diego Chargers execute their fifth playoff exit in six years, I was again shocked and saddened by the organization's missed opportunity for greatness.
Last season's defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers was bitter but expected. You don't really pencil in 8-8 teams to win it all going into the postseason.
This year was different.
Four years later, deja vu struck as a similar Chargers team made a quick, unexpected exit from the playoffs.
A stinger, no doubt.
For the rest of the day, I stayed away from the Internet and my television set, as I (most likely correctly) believed that further rehashing of the afternoon's events would render me despaired and angry.
The next day, I returned to the world of instant information and nickel-and-dime analysis through the blogosphere.
I wasn't surprised to find shock and even passive-aggressive jibes about the Chargers' failing in the postseason again.
What was really shocking to me was what I found in the comments section for each and every article.
Now, at one point in our lives, we've all been teased when our favorite athlete or team failed during crunch time.
Expletive-laden schoolyard taunts aside, it was the idea that Chargers' fans "deserved" the loss or were somehow guilty of a karmic infraction that puzzled me.
Over and over again, I found reasoning for the Chargers' loss to be boiled down at times due to the alleged facts that San Diego fans were:
- Taunting to others
- Fair-weathered (this one isn't too off base)
Suppose all those characteristics are true.
In regards to a potential Chargers win or loss, this is analytically ignorant—at best.
What difference does it make for a group of players, coaches, and management that some or all of their fans can be jackasses at times?
Joe Chargerfan going on a message board saying the Bolts will win it all in 2010 leads to Vincent Jackson committing an embarrassing penalty?
If a guy in a LaDanian Tomlinson jersey berates an opposing fan, does that effect the real Tomlinson's performance?
Of course not.
But we all know that already.
Except that people all over America are finding new and inventive ways to go out of their way to insult, offend, and berate Chargers fans. For what?
For being a fan.
Don't sit there and tell me karma has anything to do with this.
People nationwide complain about New Yorkers and Bostonians, and their cities have had extended success in the past decade.
Across multiple sports.
Oakland Raider fans as a group aren't exactly angels. Their franchise, although maligned for most of the past 10 years, has three Super Bowl rings.
I've read posts that go on for paragraphs denoting just how stupid Charger fans are for rooting for their team to go on in the playoffs and possibly win the Super Bowl.
What does that make you? What does that make all of us, in that case?
I've seen guys who are accountants, lawyers, professional writers, and teachers stoop to such depths over the past 24 hours, literally pulling a Nelson Muntz by yelling "Ha Ha!" and then attempting to substantiate their joy with a baseless, illogical reason.
Schadenfreude is a funny thing. It's basically useless, when you think about it.
Personal success will always be more satisfying than a rival's failure. As a Charger fan, I care whether the Broncos win exactly two times every year.
You guessed it: the Bolts and the Broncos square off twice each season.
When Rich Gannon and the Raiders were this close to a Super Bowl win in 2003 (in principle, they were blown out after all), I didn't bat an eyelash.
I wished my team was in that position. That was it.
During my lifetime, I've had to see the Broncos lift two Lombardi trophies, one of them in San Diego of all places.
Didn't faze me.
I don't care that the Broncos choke in December, that the Raiders are a league-wide punch line, and that the once-proud Chiefs are awful.
Their fans care, and that should be good enough.
Me? I'll worry about my team repeating that AFC West title and breaking whatever curse that's keeping them out of the Super Bowl.
I'll be as loud as I want or as quiet as I want. As proud, as pompous, and as boisterous as I feel like, depending on the situation.
The one thing I'll never do, though?
Bash on you for being passionate about your team and supporting them in your way.
I'll never insult you...for being a fan.