For those who have read my stories or Lion Links often, you probably already know that I was born and raised in Cleveland, OH. That means I’ve had 34 years of rooting for teams like the Browns, the Cavaliers, and the Indians. I am an expert at losing. The Browns have gone 1-31 over the past two years, the Indians have failed consistently —especially in the World Series, and if it wasn't for the greatest player ever in Lebron James, I wouldn't even know what a championship is.
Being a part of a losing culture sucks, no doubt about it. Morale is low, you’re always depressed on game days, and being cynical just comes naturally. There are ways to cope, though. As someone very familiar with false hope and losing, I’m going to help you all out on this with some key things learned over the years.
Enjoy the Experience
What do I mean by this? Well for Orlando games I have a ritual where I go to Market at Magnolia for the pregame and enjoy great food and beer. Then I get to the stadium just in time to grab a Jai Alai and get to my seat. After the game, I typically head to Yard Bar and play some corn hole and party while seeing many people I know in the community.
Just because it’s a losing situation doesn't mean you can’t have fun. Find a tradition or routine that makes everything worth it. Yes, the game will piss you off, but the majority of the night will be a blast with people I assume you enjoy.
Make a Game Out of the Game
A long time ago, my family created a fun game during Browns’ games to make them semi-tolerable, where we take a shot every time they score a TD. In some games we would add turnovers or great plays. But the point is that we give ourselves something to root for. We may lose, 28-17, but that’s two shots and maybe more.
Perhaps come up with a game surrounding Orlando City. Maybe every time a goal is scored you chug a beer and every positive play reversed after video review is a shot. Find what works for you to keep the game interesting.
When All Else Fails, It’s Better Than Drinking Alone
Look, The Mane Land staff all joked that the best coping is drinking. I used to have a college poster that said when alcohol is the answer and then listed over 100 questions. I’m not condoning drinking heavily but if you're going to drink and watch the game then why not commiserate with fellow fans? Drinking alone in your home can get really bad. Instead, get out of the house with your fellow losers and do what most of us do best.
At the end of the day, the atmosphere at the games is fantastic. There’s a reason why Orlando supporters’ groups are often called the worst and it’s partly because of the blind passion. That is a lot of fun and makes it worth getting out of the house. So whether or not things suck, do it with the Orlando family.
Remember, It Won’t Always Be Bad
This is one reason why us Cleveland fans have so much hope. We’ve had brief tastes of success and are so desperate for more. Those singular years of success just keep us ignorantly optimistic for the future. Every year comes with hope and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Statistically, it won't always be bad. Stick by the team and be the one that can say you lived through the rough times. No one likes a bandwagon fan and you don’t want to be a part of that. The tide will turn. It’s only been four years — or three with the Pride (note they had a playoff appearance) — of misery. When it gets to be 10 years then come talk to me. When it’s been 60+ years without a title then you’ll be on my level. So while things haven't been great, it takes time to build a winning team. Don’t believe me? Well I actually wrote the story on it.
I get it better than most how expectations and teams can fall short. But we stand by our teams through thick and thin and that will only make it that much sweeter when we do have a successful season. So however you need to get through the hard times, do what you need to do. In the meantime, just take solace in the fact you’re not alone, it won’t always be this way, and there’s always a stiff drink to help.