Being a fan of Minnesota sports has proven to be a tortured experience. Extended championship droughts, excruciating losses at inopportune times, blown leads – I have lived through them all, more than most sports fans should have to experience in a lifetime. I am only 32 years old.
Dealing with such heartbreak as a fan can make one fatalistic. Part of fandom is a sense of eternal optimism, the notion that your team always has a chance to win, even when “on paper” the team is athletically and statistically over-matched. Not believing that your team has a legitimate chance of success or victory makes you feel inadequate, as though you are nothing more than a fair-weather fan. However, when the end result of a season is always a loss, or a place finish below first, you come to expect such endings. In a way, this is more realism than fatalism, since the reality for fans of these teams is always failure, to one degree or another.
This explains the fatalism of Minnesota sports fans. We expect the Vikings to not win the Super Bowl, and we expect their last loss to be a pull-your-heart-out late-minute stumble. We expect the Gopher football team to surrender leads of 10- or 20-plus points in the second half. We expect the Timberwolves and Lynx to lose – not suddenly or cataclysmically – just plain ol’ lose. We expect these outcomes because this is almost all we Minnesota sports fans have seen.
Therefore, my expectations for the coming football seasons of my favorite teams do not involve a championship. You could say I have already given up, waved the white flag. Well, almost. We cannot totally surrender a season in advance, lest the miracle that was bestowed in 2004 on perhaps the most “cursed” team of our modern times, the Boston Red Sox, is laid upon us Minnesota fans. If that miracle can happen to the Sox, it can happen to the Vikings. No, really!