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Hard Core Fan

I often get asked why it doesn’t depress me to listen to people’s problems all day.  I guess it’s because I find people’s stories fascinating–a puzzle to solve.  And I genuinely enjoy getting to know someone who is ready to deal with their problems.  It takes courage to acknowledge that you need help and to do something about it.

But probably the biggest reason why it doesn’t depress me is because I am an optimist.  I believe people can change, can make their lives better.  This comes in handy when you’re following a losing team.

My brothers and I are avid UVA fans because we went there.  It’s different to be committed to a team because you went there or because they’re from your state than when you choose a team because they’re good.  Anyone can cheer for a winning team.  Being a hard core fan, on the other hand, takes dedication, patience, and optimism.

One of my brothers is such a hard core fan that before the game he spends weeks researching the stats of our team and of our opponents, checking out the scouting report, the spread, comparing how our offense matches up to their defense and vice versa.  And he always has these grand predictions for the season.  In fact, it borders on being delusional, but in a good way.

For example, this year he predicted that we would be 8-5, which includes a win at a bowl game.  At best, we will win 3 games, and that will require some divine intervention to win the last one since we’re clearly so sucky.  I remember one year when we had a similar season, he had an epiphany as we watched another loss.  He turned to me and said, “you know, I’m beginning to think we’re not that good.” 

This year as we sat through the Duke game, which we lost splendidly in the 4th quarter, in the midst of frustrated fans cursing our coach and quarterback as they exited the bleachers, there was one woman who perkily said “see you next week!” to the usher on the way out.  My brother and I were struck by how unfazed she was by the loss.  We realized that we had briefly waivered in our faith in our team and channeled another source of optimism to motivate us to have hope that we could win the next weekend.

And then we lost again.  And again.  And again. 

We had another conversation about that perky woman and concluded that she must live in Charlottesville, so she could afford to be optimistic because it probably only took her at most 30 minutes to get to the game since there is no traffic and no problem parking.  We, on the other hand, had to drive 2-3 hours, spend money on gas and food, and make the long drive home in a bad mood. 

Still, my brothers and I plan on going to the showdown against Tech on Thanksgiving weekend.  I’m prepared to throw some punches if necessary to avenge any negative comments launched against my team in the event of a loss.

And if we end up being 2-10, then I can take comfort in the fact that basketball season has begun, and we’re supposed to be good at that.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

5 responses »

  1. You and your brothers are true sports fan, win or lose, you root for your team. Its easy to be a fan of a winning team. You show your loyalty and true personality by continuing to root for and be a fan of a team that is not doing so well this particular season. And besides Christy, you always say you like to do things that are difficult or hard.


  2. I choose to think of it as being an admirable trait 🙂


  3. Hi. I’m the brother referenced in this post. I clearly remember that game during a 3-9 season. We sat through a steady, unrelenting rain. I was so soaked through the clothes that I wore that after the 3 hr drive back home,I had to toss my wallet & buy a new one the next day; so soaked like a sponge with the miserable reminder of that relentless rain & the cloudy result that we witnessed transpire beneath it.
    Before I move on, you should know a thing or two about me. I’m not a born winner. I’ve been relatively successful in life, but things have rarely come easily. I’m blessed enough to have been born into a family of such marvelous parents & gifted siblings—but have simultaneously been cursed by the task of measure up to that brilliance Prime performance for me has always equaled diligent preparation. When everything is an uphill battle, you learn not to judge yourself on a single action & corresponding result or even a series of actions & corresponding results. You reward yourself for the effort & commitment believing that ultimately, the pebbles you gather each day will result in a mountain moved tomorrow. It didn’t’ bother me to see our team go 3 and out again. It didn’t’ bother me to see my team give up the first touchdown. Then the second; then the third…before we’d even gotten a first down. It didn’t’ bother me that we lost our first game. Then our second; then our third. It didn’t bother me, number one– because I had seen reasons for optimism. I had observed signs of how good we could be. And it didn’t’ bother me, number two– because it wasn’t over yet. The book hadn’t been written. He still had a chance to turn it all around.
    But on that dreary, cloudy, rainy day—with our team down 3 touchdowns already & the 4th quarter looming—on the magical drive when we would finally “click”& spark the historical comeback—I witnessed another 3 and out. Suddenly, it hit me. Our guys really weren’t good enough to come back in this game; or this season. It was stunning; but the next day, it didn’t really matter. And here’s why:
    You haven’t lost until you’ve lost. And even then, you’re not a loser until you let that loss define you. In the end, it’s all about valuing something enough to warrant the effort that you pour into it: to sit through the rain to watch your team go 3 and out & drive back home for 3 hours in soaked clothes. I guess it all goes back to self-acceptance like my sister says. But not in the way some may think. I’m not into consolation prizes or re-framing my standards in order to shield myself from a disappointment that I’m afraid to admit. For me, it’s simple: if something’s worth doing, I’ll keep doing it. Spending 5 Saturday’s a year with my big brother & sis to remember the past & celebrate the present is well worth all the new wallets to replace my rain-soaked ones that money can buy. Hoping, believing, striving—these are life experience that come to mind way more clearly than any result of any single game. So there. Go Hoos. And “Go us.”Oh yeah—-I’m sure we can sweep the Hokies in basketball this season anyway. So who cares about football? Ha!


  4. Well said, baby bro. On another sad note, #25 UVA lost to #14 VCU at home. At least it wasn't an upset.


  5. Pingback: Why I Love Sports | Normal in Training

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