At its core, being a diehard sports fan is a game of give and take. Most of the time, your team will fail in its ultimate objective, whether it’s to win a championship, win a playoff game or even just make the postseason. As much as you enjoy the ride, you know the end is a freefall off a cliff, followed immediately by an offseason where hope and “Wait ‘Till Next Year” springs eternal.
You do this because every once in a while, you get rewarded for living and dying with every touchdown or ninth-inning rally or six-overtime classic. Your team gets over the hump and achieves its goal, and the euphoria of that success makes every heartbreaking loss worth it.
But some tragic fan bases have wandered in search of sports Canaan for 40 years and then some without success. Like the Cubs or Vikings or Red Sox pre-2004, the fan experience is hardened over time by soul-crushing loss after soul-crushing loss. Resignation becomes your primary emotion, followed closely by dread if your team happens to be doing well because you KNOW it can’t last. And when you do allow yourself to hope, your team falls agonizingly short and you kick yourself for caring, only to be glued to the TV the next week begging for a miracle once again. It’s like an addiction, only without the euphoric high.
That’s what it’s like to be a Northwestern fan.