UW fans have no reason to panic--all those losses were to ranked teams, and last year's team parlayed an eerily similar season into a strong postseason run, posting upsets against both Hawaii and Nebraska.
But losing generally leaves fans in a funk. Which is why I recommend a brief but clever essay by Adam Sternbergh from the October 23, 2011 New York Times Magazine. Here's an excerpt:
There is one demonstrable value to being a sports fan. It allows you to feel real emotional investment in something that has no actual real-world consequences. In any other contest (presidential campaigns, for example), the outcome can be exhilarating or dispiriting to its followers and, by the way, when we wake up the next day, the course of history has been changed. As for fictional stories, you can certainly get swept up in them, but their outcomes don’t hinge on the unpredictability of real life. Sports stories, on the other hand, are never guaranteed to end happily. In fact, as we’ve seen, some end in a highly unsatisfying way. As a fan, you will feel actual joy or actual pain — this is precisely what non-sports-fans usually ridicule about being a sports fan — in relation to events that really don’t affect your life at all.
It’s crushing, maddening, unfathomable — and yet it means nothing. Like a shooting-gallery target or bickering sitcom family, your team will spring up again same time next year, essentially unharmed.
The epic collapse, then, is an opportunity to confront an event that’s bewildering in its unlikelihood and ruinous in its effect, yet to also walk away entirely unscarred. It matters, deeply, and yet it doesn’t matter at all. It’s heartbreak with training wheels.The entire essay, titled "The thrill of defeat," is worth a read. Find it on the New York Times website.
|Adam Sternbergh argues that sports defeats offer lessons that other defeats do not|
[Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann]