disappointed –adjective 1. depressed or discouraged by the failure of one's hopes or expectations
This all comes from being asked by several people how I feel about recent sporting setbacks. Those same setbacks include the Bruins and Celtics being ousted in two bitter 'Game Sevens' and also Sunderland, my favourite English Premiere League team, losing last night, leaving them on the shaky, nerve wracking precipice of relegation into the lower tiers of English football. Not to mention the Sox look decidedly shaky right now.
I am disappointed.
What's it all about though? Why do we feel like this? Does it matter at all? Does any good come from it?
It is a tangible feeling, of that there is no doubt. On a personal level, right now my 'sporting disappointment' is as low as it has been in a long time. The teams I root for, the teams I invest in emotionally (and, sometimes, financially!) are all experiencing some sort of down turn, a reversal in fortunes. If you take it any way seriously, if you invest any amount at all, you end up with symptoms. You wake up feeling lethargic. You purse your lips a lot. You listen to 'Song for Bob' by Nick Cave. A lot.
This is the kind of music you listen to when Jon Lester can't get outs or when Paul Pierce can't get any net
This is obviously a very distinct and unique form of disappointment. There is nothing I could have done to have helped Sunderland, for example, avoid losing last night. I had absolutely zero input into the Celtic's capitulation on Sunday night. And yet still I remain disappointed. Obviously, as a fan of a team, any team, you invest a certain amount emotionally into that team, and the results of same. The level of your investment is proportionate to the level of your own disappointment when that team, for want of a better term, fails.
Interestingly the type of team you support probably says quite a bit about you as an individual. If you are a Manchester United supporter, you hardly ever have to deal with disappointment. They win everything. Disappointment for their supporters is very different to the disappointment felt by, for example, Sunderland supporters. My father and I have been rooting heavily for Sunderland since 1973. That was the year they won the FA Cup. Excluding the lower divisions, and promotion to the Premiership, they have won nothing since. Zip. Nada. Nothing.
Instead, year after year, they battle in the lower regions, hoping basically to avoid relegation and dropping into the lower leagues and relative anonymity. A big success for Sunderland is a half decent result against a 'big' club. And yet still we love them, and forgive them when they lose 3-1 to an awful Portsmouth side on a Monday night in May.
Perhaps because my expectations are so low for them, the elation that comes from a decent result for Sunderland is higher than what, for example, a Manchester United fan might feel when they win, over and over and over.
Is there anything good about this feeling? The feeling that you wake up thinking someone kicked you in the stomach the night before. Anything good at all? Maybe it's just me, but I find it heightens the senses. Anyone else get that? A beer tastes a little crisper. Does disappointment actually sharpen the senses, perhaps? It definitely slows things down. I'm reading a book at the moment, and the state of mind I am in, the sentences have slowed down from the last few books I read. Each word has extra meaning.
Wait, maybe it's tied to the emotions? I heard a song today that almost made my eyes well up. Worse yet, perhaps it's senses and emotions combined, sharpened by a bad losing streak. Heightened by a stack of fresh sporting disappointment.
Part of the reason New England fans are admittedly insufferable at the moment is because they are unsure as to how to deal with success. For the nineties, up to the shocking Patriots win in 2001, all the big New England sports teams went through a period of abject failure. The Celtics were absolutely horrific. The Bruins? Did they even exist in that period? The Patriots were sometimes competitive, but always came up short. The Red Sox? They gave us Pedro and Nomar, yet were always in the shadow of the mighty Yankee squads of the 90's.
For now, the Celtics are out, and Sunderland are awful. Really awful. The Red Sox are up and down to say the least, and who knows how Brady's knee is going to be? Knock back after knock back in the little sporting world I call my own.
..and yet we still follow our teams blindly.
''So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.''
So we beat on, waiting for those few fleeting moments of elation, that validate the general feelings of disappointment. Those same feelings that set up the good times, the good vibrations. You really have to take it on board, enjoy it, for what it is worth, take the stomach punch finishes, the drubbings, the tonkings, the beat downs, and roll with them.
Without those, winning means nothing at all.