Beyond The Mic: Dealing With True Fan Emotions Following Saints Loss
“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” - Alfred Lord Tennyson
When 1800s English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson penned this phrase, it was in response to the sudden death of his close friend Arthur Henry Hallam.
Over times, the phrase has been used by mankind for a plethora of reasons, with the disunion of a relationship being the most frequent.
Today, it’s a good quote to latch onto for any hardcore New Orleans Saints fans that have experienced the highs and lows that come with loving the franchise.
As a lifelong Saints fan, I’ve run through a gamut of emotions over the years. Yesterday, the full gamut occurred in a three and a half hour timespan.
Enthusiasm. Anger. Acceptance. Hope. Excitement. Joy. Worry. Sorrow. Disbelief.
Fans experience heart-breaking defeat in different ways. Yesterday, they experienced a lot after the Vikings stunned the Saints on the inconceivable final play.
It was equivalent to courting your true love, having everything go against you, not give up, overcome multiple obstacles to convince your love to take your hand in marriage, exchange vows, and just as you’re about to hear, “I now pronounce you man and wife”, the unthinkable happens, your love runs away, and in mere seconds, it’s all gone.
Too dramatic? Perhaps for some. But we're talking about fanatics.
By definition, a person with an obsessive interest in and enthusiasm for something.
My 8 year old nephew was sad yesterday after the Saints loss. My sister-in-law texted my wife to ask if I would call him.
“I thought we were gonna win the Super Bowl,” he told me. “I hate losing like that.”
After agreeing with him, I recalled a Saints playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on my 11th birthday. New Orleans blew a big lead, and failed to win in the playoffs at home again. While the ending wasn't as devastating as yesterday, the strong feelings of emotional pain were real, even for a youthful fan.
I was young, and had experienced some awful Saints losses (including an OT playoff loss to the Falcons the year before), yet not the first 20 years of heartache so many other Saints fans had endured. Despite this, I began to question whether putting so much emotion into a uniform, and players I cared about but didn’t truly know, was a good thing.
I expressed the sentiment to my Mom on our drive home after that game. She, a lifelong Saints fan, told me someday our team would do something special, and by sticking with the team through the lowest of lows, you’ll experience the ultimate joy of fandom when the good times come. And so I did.
A little over 17 years later, we sat inside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, watching the Saints celebrate a Super Bowl championship.
She was right. The 2000 playoff win over the Rams. The 2006 season. The entire Super Bowl year. And until the ending of yesterday’s game, the majority of the 2017 season.
An emotional high that's only understood by fellow sports fans. Not bandwagon jumpers, but true fans.
I did my best to relay this to my nephew yesterday. Quoting an 19th century English poet may not have gotten through to him, but hopefully the simple wisdom of what comes with true fandom did.
As bad as it feels now, it can, and someday will, feel equally as euphoric when the good times come.
I love my team. And it’s better to have lost a heartbreaking game than to have never loved a team at all.