Recently my friend Dinesh made a joke about how I’m a silly little innocent who doesn’t understand true sports pain because I grew up rooting for the Twins.
My only other true, with-all-my-heart sports rooting interest before I came to Buffalo was the Minnesota Twins. As a small child, I cheered like all kids do, without really worrying too much about wins and losses. I loved the Twins either way. Then, in 1987 when I became old enough to crave wins (I was twelve), the Twins won the World Series, and then they did it again in 1991. During my formative years, I saw the Twins lose plenty, but I never saw them lose a playoff series, and I saw them win the World Series twice. So, my friend Dinesh is right. I was spoiled as a child, and I don’t intrinsically understand how it feels experience a lifetime of sports fandom without ever seeing a championship.
Dinesh is from Cleveland, so he DOES understand true sports pain. As he says about cheering for Cleveland sports and the expectation that eventually his team will lose, “It’s always something.”
For one reason or another, I’ve become temporarily transfixed by the drama occurring around LeBron James today. I know almost nothing about basketball, so my interest in this is coming for a position of complete ignorance. Last night I became intrigued when the tone of the LeBron discussion in my Twitter feed became dramatic and scathing. As the game wound down, Bruce Arthur wrote, “This isn’t just a capitulation by LeBron. It’s not just a surrender. This is a betrayal.” Whoa. That’s some hardcore losing.
So, I’ve spent the morning reading about LeBron James and the history of Cleveland sports, and my final conclusion is, “Holy crap, poor Cleveland fans….they’re like Buffalonians.”
I don’t feel comfortable closely identifying with the history of losing in Buffalo. That history is not my true experience and to over-identify with it seems a little disengenuous, but I have gotten increasingly aware of “it” in recent years (heh) and I deeply empathize. My empathy is in part selfish, because it’s for my future self. After all, if things stay the course, eventually I will have a genuine history with Buffalo’s losing ways.
I’m curious about how born-and-bred Buffalonians feel about Clevelanders. I feel a combination of deep deep sympathy, and also a little bit of petty, “Ha ha! You guys never win either. LOSERS.” I’ll admit, the idea of the Cavaliers delivering a championship to Cleveland made me jealous, and sort of cranky. But now that it’s looking so grim for the Cavs, and LeBron is about to become a free agent on top of everything else….boy. Poor, poor Cleveland. They don’t deserve that.
So, Buffalo. How does Cleveland make you feel? Sad? Petty? Happy? Would it make you happy to see them win, or would it make you feel lonelier here in Buffalo?
Are Cleveland fans our brothers in pain, or are they the competition?