Fans choose teams in the same sense they do eye color. Thinking choice is involved feels as quaint as buying a newspaper. Fate has a cruel sense of humor, and those targeted by teasing may as well feel honored.
Consequences of decisions made during previous centuries are both far-reaching and unexpected. My great-grandparents by chance picking Buffalo to look for work after ditching Europe eventually led to me hoping that LeSean McCoy has a sweet season left.
Life assigns teams to those of us drawn to cheering for whichever sporting outfits are based in the same area code. Making the most of where we ended up is our modest contribution. It’s not like we have an option.
A franchise that promises it’s on the correct path is surely truthful. We have no reason to distrust the Buffalo Bills after a couple decades of neglecting to field a competent squad. As usual, we expect this year will be the exception to the crummy standard. It’s a habit at this point.
Geographic proximity brought most of us together with our tortuous favorite team. Happening to be from the same place also determined which bars I have fond memories of entering illicitly while underage and what Mexican chain would inspire my unwavering dedication. Being blessed with Mighty Taco is an apology from the universe.
We foolishly thought we just liked game action. Sports are ultimately about coping with something out of our control. It’s best to learn from following a team that life is perilous before venturing into the world.
Being a Bills fan resembles life, and nobody said that would be lots of fun, either. Fans place faith in mercenaries unaware of just how deeply invested we are in their workplaces. There’s no influence from observers unless kvetching here counts, which it does not.
The academically inclined can compensate for their mistake of birth when it comes time to select a university. Schooling offsets some of that lack of foresight. Going off to college provides an opportunity to choose teams, and I guess a major as well.
Fellow classmates who are presented with complimentary tuition for being good at chasing a ball in various games provide a merry distraction from classwork. In a broader sense, moving on to college provides a chance to make decisions about one’s own life, ranging from which teams you can back to relatively trifling concerns like what your career will be. My alma mater occasionally offers relief. A few Syracuse championships in various sports have helped me cope with Buffalo’s eternal dearth.
Free will is perilous because everything is your fault. I hate being responsible. Take how I moved to Manhattan and turned a new opportunity into further despair. I wasn’t changing football and hockey teams just because I relocated to Stink City, as that would be like switching religions because I lived closer to a different house of worship. And I don’t really follow baseball, so how about finally having an NBA team to back? So, I chose the Knicks. Son of a bitch.
The Knicks are the worst team in basketball and also the worst thing ever. Following a team with every advantage on Earth and 60 losses makes cheering for Buffalo clubs seem less devastating. Conditions are so bad in the Garden that exasperated fans cheer for a tenant to lose to get a better shot at a coveted pick through winning a draft lottery. Hmmm: this sounds familiar.
As with still tuning in to predictably crummy Sabres games, I watch every dreadful outing from Gotham’s saddest franchise because I’ve become a masochist by trade. Fans stick around no matter what, to the detriment of joy.
Help takes the form of a reassuring voice explaining how bad it is. The sweet sounds of Mike Breen and Earth’s flyest dresser Clyde Frazier during atrocious Knicks games are the best reasons to tune in to a tanking. A great narrator is like taking comfort in Rick Jeanneret making the worst hockey bearable. No, seriously: this is a repeat.
Announcers often have to point out how toxic it is for locker room culture to basically lose deliberately. Players are trying their best even if it doesn’t look like it. Competing when a loss would help is a constant among my favorite pro teams. I’d like to hold out hope it’s coincidental.
Is this fate? If so, why does it suck? It’d be wonderful to get the chance to prove how much we’d appreciate good fortune. It’d also be super to get paid for scrolling through Instagram.
Things are not always going to go smoothly. We get it, already. The millionth example was unnecessary. But life conforming to patterns is reassuring in its way. Most of us didn’t decide to become Bills fans, so we may as well embrace dumb destiny.
Sure, we could stop cheering. But that would make us the first. Nobody leaves for long. Modern humans are more likely to quit social media than renounce a team. Has anyone who’s ever burned a jersey not watched the next game? Nicotine users have a smaller relapse rate than fans.
We’re not going anywhere and we know it. Like the former partner who still has your heart, you don’t decide who you love. Since we’re stuck caring, we may as well hope Josh Allen gets the help he needs. This seems like a perfect time to debate which of four or five urgent gashes should be mended first. Pray for the draft to pay off as much as free agency additions ideally does. The best way to get through tough times is knowing you’re not the only sufferer. Hug a fellow Bills fan today.
Editor’s babble: Consider yourself hugged, Anthony. After the Sabres actually exceeded my low expectations in Ottawa last night, I could use one. Thanks to Anthony for helping keep us afloat while we pray the Bills can help us forget about the mess that is the Buffalo Sabres. You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy.