The Lamenting of a D.C. Sports Fan

Josh McCainSenior Writer IMay 4, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Fans of the Washington Redskins show support for their team during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Last night as I watched my Washington Capitals go from a one-goal lead to a one-goal deficit in a mere 24 seconds, I was angered.  When the final seconds of game three ticked of the clock, I shut the television off and went to bed.

When a promising 6-2 start by the Washington Redskins a few seasons ago ended in them missing the playoffs at 8-8, I was depressed.

When the Wizards and Nationals...

Um well they haven't really done anything to break our hearts, they're just bad.

Being a fan of D.C. sports has not been an easy thing.  In fact for the last 20 years it has seemed more like a burden than anything else.

Sports is supposed to be a get away from the depressions of a 9-5 work week, a chance for us to unwind and relax.

I don't know about you, but I rarely relax while watching my home teams play.  In fact I usually start the game off in a good mood and as the minutes tick off the game clock my mood becomes fouler.

Through the fall and winter, I sit in front of my television every Sunday trying to convince myself from 11:00AM up until kick-off that it's just a game and there's no need to put myself through an emotional ringer when the Redskins inevitably do something idiotic to cost themselves a victory.

Before last nights game in Tampa, I tried to convince myself that this year just isn't the Caps' year and not to get worked up if they go down three games to none against the Lightning.

In those scenarios, my inner Tony Robinson failed me, and I let myself get angry and depressed for each heartbreaking loss.

I have a son who is getting ready to turn three this month and with his age he's becoming more and more interested in my interests.

For example this weekend I was adding an extension onto my patio and he was right there holding tools for me and helping measure the boards for cutting.  He was quite proud of himself.

Or if I'm playing a video game, he'll grab another controller and pretend to play along.

Then, during game four of the Rangers and Caps series, when he saw me in my Ovechkin jersey, he yelled clear as day "Let's go CAPS!"

I was proud and depressed at the same time.

What have I done to my son?

Not only has he taken a liking to our favorite hockey team, but also the Redskins.  He constantly wants to wear his Chris Cooley jersey and in turn wants me to wear one of my many Redskins' jerseys.

When I was his age, the Redskins had been to three Super Bowls (won one of them) and were constantly competing for the NFC East title.

In his lifetime, the Skins haven't even been to the playoffs or had a winning record.

Have I inadvertently set my own flesh and blood up for a lifetime of misery following these teams?

Should I do my best to steer him clear of the depression and misery that comes with cheering for D.C. sports teams?

No I won't.  Not because I'm some sort of sick sadistic father that you need to call child services on, no, it's because I know what it's like to have your heart broken by a team for so long that when it seems like all hope is gone, they do something to surprise you and make it all better.

I know this because not only am I a D.C. homer, but because I'm a Red Sox fan as well.

Let me explain that last statement for you.

The Nats of course, are the new kid in town and before them we didn't have a baseball team in my lifetime (I'm 28.) Sorry O's fans, but I don't consider Baltimore local.  I live in Virginia and B-more is a good two hour drive from my home.

So as an impressionable child my best friend who's family hails from Connecticut convinced me to be a Red Sox fan. 

And as a young child does, I started cheering for the Sox.  At that age I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I didn't know about the "curse" and wasn't quite old enough to grasp the fact that what George Steinbrenner wanted, he bought for his team.

So as fall would roll around the Sox would crumble, and  it was all capped off in 2003 when they lost that heart breaking game seven in New York.

In spite of what has happened since, I will never forget Aaron Boone hitting that walk-off home run off of Tim Wakefield.  I'll never forget his stupid face as such a mediocre player raised both arms in triumph as he trotted off towards first base.

Much like watching the Caps' lead disappear so quickly, I felt anger and depression all at once.

However all of that pain, toiling and trouble I went through as a Sox fan was finally rewarded in 2004. 

With them down to the hated Yankees 3-0 in the series (much like our beloved hockey team is now) the Sox rallied back in game four and never looked back.  They would win eight straight games and capture their first World Series since 1918.

Even though I'm a bigger Redskins fan than I am Sox fan, that championship brought out more emotion in me than the Skins' last Super Bowl win in the 91-92 season because of all the heartbreak I went through with the Sox.

So even though I might be dooming my son to years and years of disappointment with the local teams, I know what it feels like to have your patience and faith in a team pay-off.

I can't tell you when, but one day the Caps will win the Stanley Cup and one day the Redskins will be back on top in the NFL.

And for all us that have stayed loyal to them and sat through all the disappointing seasons and postseasons, we will relish and bask in all the glory and artificial pride that a championship brings to a city.