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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

Capece: Justification for being a fan of perpetual losers

This could be the most backwards thing you read all week, but I’m going to write this column anyway. On Tuesday, my colleague Hayden Adams provided justification for being a bandwagon sports fan.

While I understand his point of view and very much respect his opinion, I’m here to tell you that Hayden is flat out wrong, and I will instead attempt to justify being a fan of losing franchises.

I can think of no better time to craft this piece than on the night my beloved New York Mets were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Every year on this night, I reflect o-n why I continue to root for New York’s losing teams as opposed to its winning ones. The Mets haven’t won a World Series since my dad was in college more than 30 years ago, the Jets have been trotting out mediocre quarterbacks for as long as I can remember, and I need a VHS tape to watch highlights of the last time the Knicks and the Islanders contended for championships.

Why you ask, would I root for these awful teams when the vastly more successful Yankees, Giants, Nets and Rangers are waiting across town?

As I look back on my last 18 years of professional sports misery, I can honestly say that I would not be the man I am today if I did not root for perpetual losers, and there are so many valuable lessons that can be learned from enduring through hopelessness and despair.

The obvious one, of course, is learning to deal with defeat. We have all experienced times when life beats us down and things don’t go our way, and we have to figure out how to pick ourselves up and move on. Those who root for bad teams have a lot of experience in this regard. For me, sports affiliations have proven to be a training ground for perseverance, and watching my teams lose on a consistent basis has helped me move past much more difficult issues in my life.

I also believe that rooting for bad teams can help people learn to laugh at themselves. There have been seasons where my teams have been so bad that their play on the field proved to be a source of comedy. Instead of being angry, I couldn’t control my laughter when Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran into his lineman’s backside on that fateful Thanksgiving night, or when Geno Smith threw interceptions on three consecutive pass attempts against the Bills (Why they let him throw the ball again after two straight interceptions is beyond me). Nobody likes it when people take themselves too seriously, and rooting for bad teams is a great way to learn humility. When you support losing franchises, you begin to adopt the attitude that life could be a heck of a lot worse, and I don’t think that’s such a bad mentality to have.

When you root for bad teams, you also learn to appreciate the moment. Bad sports teams can teach people how to forget about the past, but also not look too far into the future. Returning to the Mets, this team has an uncanny ability to give their faithful a glimmer of hope before ripping their hearts out and crushing them into pieces. I can recall a game this past season where the our bullpen took a seven-run lead into the bottom of the ninth before it evaporated into thin air. Losing teams can teach people that success is fleeting. My fandom has taught me to always be grateful for what I have and what I have accomplished.

Finally, supporting perpetual losers can help others learn the value of faith in trying times. In order to preserve my sanity as a Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan, optimism has really been the only option. This lesson has certainly translated to my personal life. When my dad and my brother spent time ill in the hospital, I drew upon this faith that I learned as a New York sports fan to get me and my family through these difficult times. One thing I can say about fans of losing teams is that we will fight with our teams until the bitter end.

However, this struggle is what makes any limited success taste so much sweeter. I was on cloud nine when the Jets beat the Patriots in Foxborough in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs in 2010, or when the Mets reached the World Series in 2015. Life can be a great deal of fun when your pain and suffering finally flips on its head.

So there you have it. Call me crazy, but I am proud to call myself a loser.