"This sucks," "The season is over," "Typical Tressel team," "Poor coaching," "We can still make a BCS game," "The season isn't over."
These are all things I heard from friends or relatives while watching Ohio State-Wisconsin.
Now, there are plenty of articles to read and talk shows to listen to that will recap the game, tell you why Ohio State lost and what that means for the rest of the season. The good ones will all tell you the same thing, pretty much.
However, I am not here to do that.
I have seen enough heartbreaking losses in my short life as a sports fan—losses by teams close to championships, losses by teams in regular season games that they were supposed to win. From Ohio State's fall from grace after the 2006 and 2007 seasons to LeBron James backhanding the entire city of Cleveland in the face, everybody takes the hurt of a loss differently.
I have come to the conclusion that there are really three types of people/fans when it comes to dealing with gut-wrenching defeats: the Armageddonists, the Levelheaded Fans and the Irrational Optimists. Below, there is a breakdown of each type of depressed fan. Which one do you think you are?
These types of fans take losses especially hard. Typically, they aren't even happy during wins. For instance, I am willing to say the guy sitting behind me at the Miami (FL) game who was yelling obscenities at Jim Tressel while Ohio State was ahead two scores with five minutes left is an Armageddonist.
After a loss, however, a fuse blows in their head. Common reactions include calling for the firing of various coaches on the team and taking turns ranting about every single aspect of the team.
To give a real-life example of an Armageddonist, I will use my dad. He is a guy that usually stops watching games when his team is getting embarrassed and always sees the worst when they lose.
Since he will probably end up reading this, I want to say that I can't really blame him. Having never been a big Browns fan, the only real championship he has seen was Ohio State in 2002, but the number of times a team should have won or just came up short is far more. After 40 years of seeing almost nothing but letdowns at the end of every single season, I don't know if I would be able to pour as much of my heart into my teams either.
After Wisconsin, the Armageddonists feel that the defense has been overrated all season, that Ohio State is probably going to lose to Iowa, and maybe Michigan, and that Tressel will never win the "Big One" again.
This type of fan has a very practical reaction and explanation for losses, no matter how much it hurts. The people I know that are Levelheaded Fans reacted to Saturday's loss by proclaiming, "Yes, Ohio State got beat, but there are plenty of Big Ten games left." They reminded me that there are 120 teams in Division I-A (I'll never call it FBS), but only two make the final game every year. And hey, the Capital One Bowl really ain't that bad.
Being able to be rational is a great gift, but it is very difficult for intense sports fans to maintain calm in either a victory or a loss, especially in important ones. Ideally, members of the media would fall into this category, because obviously you will get the best analysis from someone who is not emotionally involved. Needless to say, Mark May is not a Levelheaded Fan.
This is my favorite group of fans, and it is the group that I fall into myself. Irrational Optimists are undeterred by losses and still envision nothing but the best for their team.
For example, even though I took the loss to Wisky very hard, I still think the scenario where Ohio State wins out, Michigan State loses at least one game, Wisconsin loses at least one more game, Ohio State and Michigan State share the Big Ten title with one conference loss apiece, and Ohio State gets the automatic BCS bid because, well, it is Ohio $tate is very likely.
I also think the probability of Wisconsin losing again and Michigan State losing twice, with Ohio State winning out and getting the Big Ten outright, is still decent.
I look at the positives in every game, even the ones that crush my soul. The defense stunk it up, special teams let us down again and DeVier Posey simply is not the receiver we all expected him to be this year. But wow, in the second half the O-line was able to run block, and Boom Herron turned into Sonic Boom on some of his runs, finishing better than I have ever seen him.
Yes, always thinking your team is in great shape for any title sets you up for a bigger letdown at the end of the year. But in my opinion, if you don't think your team is going to win, what is the point in watching?
So there you have it. The results of years and years of independent research. The main point I want to make is while people deal with the sting of defeat in their own way, if somebody has a reaction to something (in this case an Ohio State loss), it means they care about it. Everybody that cares about Ohio State and Ohio State football wants what is best for the program.
Their opinions differ on that, but whether they want to clean house in the coaching staff or think this game was just a fluke, remember that everybody just wants the team to win. I have read some threads and heard some exchanges between people who get angry with one another when they really just want the same thing in the end.
What type of fan are you, and how have you dealt with various losses throughout the years?
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