Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Breaking Point for Losing in Sports

John Marine | 2/02/2011 03:16:00 AM | | |
When sports teams/athletes keep losing, when does a fan reach his/her breaking point? When is it that every loss means greater frustration and at the worst... stop believing in a team? When do fans truly become restless and disappointed over a team constantly losing (or losing just enough to miss out on playoffs or championships)? I was finally convinced to blog as my Rockets lost to the Lakers 114-106 in Overtime. I am having the same frustration for my 2010 Rockets as I've been when my Texans went from a 4-2 start... to a 6-10 finish. Hopes and dreams of exceptional promise end up in lackluster and unfulfilling seasons. This is sort of a mash-up of various thoughts concerning when another loss by a losing sports team is one loss too many for fans to start giving up on teams. I don't need a picture for this blog post- I'll let my words do the talking and paint the pictures.

I will try to explain everything as best as I can.

--- When Do Fans of Losing Teams/Athletes Reach Their Breaking Point? ---
I still love my Texans, Rockets, Astros, Dynamo, and every other pro sports team in Houston. And while I'm aware that certain cities (like Cleveland) have even bigger sports woes than us, we're just as bad. In May 2010, this list was compiled of America's worst sports cities (according to Forbes):

(Forbes' 10 Most Miserable Sports Cities; May 2010)
10. Houston, Texas
9. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
8. Kansas City, Missouri
7. Washington, District of Columbia
6. Cleveland, Ohio
5. San Diego, California
4. Buffalo, New York
3. Phoenix, Arizona
2. Atlanta, Georgia
1. Seattle, Washington

To see WHAT makes these the most miserable sports cities from the 2010 list (including a slideshow on each one), please visit 2010 America's Most Miserable Sports Cities on

Some fans in cities like these reach a certain breaking point when their beloved team continually fails. There are some fans who feel their team will never become any kind of champion or that a pro championship in a major sport will not come to that city. Well, think of last year- remember when the New Orleans Saints made their first-ever Super Bowl last year... and won it? Some people just think that certain teams will NEVER experience championship glory or never bring in a major sports title.

Think about it. If the Saints have been around since 1967 and never won the Super Bowl, who's to say that any team right now (in any sport) can play for the league's championship? Too many people just have no faith in their hometown to bring in championships. Like it will never ever happen. That's kind of why I felt the Houston Oilers had to leave Houston for Nashville like they can't win an NFL Championship in Houston, so they have to move a franchise elsewhere. My cousin would be upset if he the Titans ever win the Super Bowl after failing to trying to win a championship as the Houston Oilers. There is that breaking point to where fans can have only so much faith in a team before they eventually see teams fail to become great- just as they envisioned.

(On a vastly off-topic note, there are those who feel the Lakers nickname should return to Minnesota much the same way that some feel the Jazz nickname should return with New Orleans rather than with Utah)

Houston was one of those cities- great teams, but never great enough to win a league championship. I bet there were people who never thought the Oilers, Astros, or whomever can win the league championship. It was the 1994 NBA season when my Houston Rockets won the first of back-to-back NBA championships. I know there are people who don't care about the WNBA, but the Houston Comets were the first WNBA dynasty with four championships. Too bad the Comets are defunct. As long as a city has a solid team of players, any team can be competitive. These days, though, it's about playing for contenders rather than trying to make the most with whatever team. That's why the ones who feel their talents are much better suited elsewhere want to play for championship teams. That's why some Rockets left for teams like the Lakers and won a title there when they could have won one for Houston. Nobody seems to believe in making a team into a winning program with a chance anymore (unless you're Oklahoma City and unless you hate that Seattle could have continued the Supersonics franchise). I want to see a big-time player want to play for a sorry team... then take that team from crap to championship, basically with the team riding his coattail to championship glory.

Some of these fans reach that breaking point where they give up on their team becoming champions at all or again. Look at the Boston Red Sox when they didn't win the World Series until they won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 after last winning the World Series last in 1918. Then again, look at teams like the Chicago Cubs, which won the World Series only twice- 1907 and 1908. Many Cubs fans usually get tired of seeing their Cubs not win the World Series or do enough to actually play for the World Series title. They've been aching ever since.

--- Breaking Points for Constant Failure With Certain Fans ---
I'll use two of my hometown sports teams to demonstrate some of the breaking points certain fans have with teams that are not doing well.

Breaking Point: 2010-2011 Houston Rockets (so far).

My Rockets started the 2010-2011 NBA season 0-5. That includes starting the first game of the season on the road at the Los Angeles Lakers. We lost by two in that season-opening game, but- we still lost. The Rockets just wrapped up a brutal January that saw us win only... four or five games against some fairly tough opponents. Biggest bonuses for us was that we didn't have to play the Lakers and that we beat Boston in Boston. The 2010 Rockets STILL have never made it to a winning record even as the 50th game of 82 just wrapped up. Currently having a 22-28 record, being 5th in the Southwest Division, 11th in the Western Conference standings, and 19 games back from the West-leading San Antonio Spurs doesn't exactly make you any kind of contender now, does it? Some Rockets fans have probably given up on the Rockets and decide to await the Super Bowl or maybe watch college hoops instead. Some Rockets fans reached that breaking point to where yet another loss was just too much.

There's an ESPN Dallas, but not an ESPN Houston. Maybe that's a good thing because I get so sick of ESPN consistently showing Houston at their worst or in losing efforts. It's certain sports networks that just make a team's woes worse than they are. It's why I felt like ESPN picked the best night to show my Houston Rockets get beat at Orlando (I was watching on FOX Sports Houston, anyways) as we lost badly that night. Just goes to show again that ESPN can be the "Always Hate Houston" network.

Breaking Point: 2010 Houston Texans.

Look at my 2010 Texans. Seems like every time we lose, ESPN just glorifies the whole deal. Think about it- we bat away a ball... that ends up in Jacksonville's hands to force a game-winning touchdown on a 1,000,000-to-1 play. We force Overtime at home against the Ravens on Monday Night Football, just for a Pick-6 to seal our fate. We were about to beat the New York Jets... until Mark Sanchez becomes a hero late. We could have beaten San Diego at home had it not been for a late interception thrown by Matt Schaub. We would (and should) have beaten the Denver Broncos in Denver, but with Tim Tebow coming back to lead his Broncos to beating my Texans... Tebow is somehow looked on as God. Credit these wins by the other teams, but how do you think I feel as a Texans fan to see my boys fail? To me- the loss at the Jaguars was just a game where we was unfortunately on the losing end. Any other time, batting the ball out of the end zone to force Overtime was commonplace. One Jaguar was just completely lucky and scored on us. Honestly- what the hell can you do about it? But becaues it was another loss, most fans were pissed off (as usual) that the Texans lost yet another game. So all the fans expecting playoffs were bitchy as most fans stopped caring about the 2010 season.

It's like some people just see us as mediocrity and make my favorite NFL team the butt of everyone's jokes when there are teams much worse than us. Very few said a damn thing about the Carolina Panthers' season, the Detroit Lions woes, Cleveland's problems, Cincinnati failing... it just seems like the Texans again and again being the certain team featured in highlights on ESPN getting beat on plays. If teams like Carolina and Detroit and such are bad, show THEM getting beat in highlights and not my Texans. Don't just give certain teams a free pass just because they have had successful seasons before. If the 2011 New England Patriots or 2011 Dallas Cowboys were to finish with terrible records (Cowboys' woes would make me happy as a Texans fan), show them getting beat consistently this season like you do showing my Texans getting beat all the time.

The Breaking Point for Most Fairweather Fans.

Most fans usually just give up on teams and just look to next season or watch some other sport instead. You should visit the Facebook fan pages of certain teams. There are a bunch of fairweather fans who only care about a team when they are winning. But when a team loses, many of them are the first ones to use all kinds of bad language and demeaning words to complain over a loss. That's why I stop trying to listen to call-in shows when a team (like my Texans or my Rockets) are struggling. I know a team is down; I don't need to be REMINDED or make a team's winning woes sound worse than they are. I always try to come onto Facebook fan pages of sports teams offering kind words. I'm pissed when a team loses, but I'm not up posting all kinds of obscentities just to curse out the team. If I felt like I could have done a better job trying to win a game, don't you think I'd be in the game trying to make magic happen? These are athletes who know every game can be won. EVERY game. How you win those games depend on how you eventually play theg game. All of our complaining and moaning isn't going to turn around a sports franchise. Not even my ramblings here on John's Blog Space won't reverse misfortunes. I am a sports fan as much as you are a fan yourself. Fan, NOT a player. So you wonder why most athletes and teams don't like or pay any mind to call-in shows. They do care about making a team a winner, but who are playing the games- fans or the athletes? Whose performance ultimately is the difference between winning and losing- fans or the athletes? Who bears the biggest burden for winning a game in a clutch moment- a fan or an athlete?

The one thing we fail to realize about sports is that these are professionals who have experienced big wins and terrible losses. If us fans could do a better job than a struggling sports franchise, we would be playing as opposed to the athletes who are paid royalties for professionally playing the game with pride and joy. Some fans just reach a certain breaking point when they can't stand seeing their favorite team constantly lose. I even said that I wouldn't watch the game with the Jaguars playing at the Texans back on January 2, 2011 since the season was already over. Guess what? I still watched the game. I love my team enough to know that I want to see the team play one last time in an unfulfilling and star-crossed season.

Of Breaking Points and Losing Streaks or Struggles.

When it came to the Los Angeles Lakers having this losing streak (before playing my Rockets just now) and with some fans expressing panic... with all due respect, shut the hell up and get a life. Your team is 2nd in the West while my Rockets fail to win games. It's not like you Lakers types have fallen off the map and trying to look for any win. And again- you're the Lakers. You've been down but found a way to come back to eventually become great again after experiencing a lull. Some take the Lakers like Duke or North Carolina- always supposed to win. When not winning, some fans are hateful. Like a few years ago when North Carolina lost their first game of one season, fans in the stands were crying. Hey- NOBODY is perfect. There will/may NEVER be a second coming of the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers (as in undefeated teams). It's too soon to doubt any team's playoff/championship/tournament hopes unless they are just completely out of it.

So there are lots of factors that help make certain losing teams feel even worse.

What is YOUR breaking point as a sports fan when a team/athlete loses? When do you feel like you stop caring rooting on that team or athlete? Or are you a truly loyal fan? Express yourself in this blog post!

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John B. Marine said...

As a Saints fan, I find it somewhat awkward trying to reply to this. When they won the SB, it was good but didn't really feel that good cause all I did was watch. Also, they did lose horribly to Seattle and we took some crap for that.

I understand you are frustrated. But with that being said, there is very little a fan can do to influence the outcome of the game except maybe going to the game and shouting to increase the decibel level by .001. Not only that, but for a team to win, another team has to lose. When you feel good about winning, someone else is going to feel bad.

As for the Jaguars Hail Mary play, well the WR stood in front of the DB batting the ball down so I wouldn't say it's pure luck he caught it. He was in a better position to catch that ball than most WR's.

And I don't like getting into wars with opposing fans because just as quickly as your team wins, you can lose. There's so much trash talk going on that there will always be snarky fans ready to take advantage of any misfortunate. That's human nature it seems. I would just stay away--misery loves company.

Anyway, don't be ashamed to be a Houston fan cause you're doing your part by supporting the team. I like to focus more on things I have control over anyway. Anyway, that's all I can think of for now.

John B. Marine said...

I mean "misfortune" not "misfortunate," ha.

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