When I attended open practice at the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena in DC earlier this month, the focus was on spectator entertainment more than rockyStyle exercises. The season opener was a week away, and the players practiced at half pace and participated in silly skill competitions for fans, including a basketball version of the Connect Four. But as a Wiz lover my whole life, I’ve had a terrible moment, loving a man. I was here Pretend to take a picture with an elephant frickin Chener. Franchise rights. My childhood idol. Back in the ’70s, when Cheney was draining jumpers and sporting Richard Pryor’s mustache, the team routinely chased titles. These days? Not much.
Being an NBA fan who loves The Wizards is a bit like being a foodie who adores kale: it just doesn’t make sense. Since the 2000-01 season, only Knicks and Timberwolves lost more games. The franchise last advanced after the second round of the playoffs in 1979 (back when they were being shot), and they missed out on the playoffs. 16 of the last 25 years. We fans have endured more than 40 years of frustration and disappointment, mainly due to the typical problems – bad defense, poor selection, bad deals – but sometimes from… Involve a teammate, and another one who was stopped without pay due to being overweight. everything # swizardsto use the Twitter hashtag.
However, I went out to open practice with a few hundred fans on Tuesday night, in the Wizards jersey and feeling the faint, irrational warmth of pre-season hope. Anyone can reach the winner. that’s easy. Last season, the NFL teams with hot selling merchandise They were Cowboys, 49ers, Patriots, Steelers, and Chiefs. Each team ended up with a winning record. In Philadelphia, he produced the currently undefeated Eagles and the Phillies heading to the World Championships 20% or more increase In business for local restaurants, sports bars and souvenir shops.
But rooting for mediocre magicians requires courage at best and is downright masochistic at worst. However, although the team is likely to bring me more pain than joy, I can’t fathom supporting any other franchise. The same is certainly true of my fellow Wizards fans — and many other perennial Losers fans (hey, the Detroit Lions still have fans in a way). So why do we stay addicted?
Fans of My Wizards started out in the suburbs of D.C. in the 1970s, when I was a bullet-crazy kid devouring box results on the sports page, shooting jumpers on a dirt court in my backyard, and pretending to be a shinier. I was 12 when the Bullets took off on Pennsylvania Boulevard to celebrate their only title, and the subsequent 44 years have brought a lot of bad memories: Last season, the Wizards somehow outperformed the Los Angeles Clippers by 35 points. The worst part? I was not surprised.
I think the last pain is stronger than the joy of childhood – even for fans like myself, whose support has been geographically relayed. But these deep, hardened roots can influence the behavior of our adults. “Early learning is incredibly powerful and hard to erase,” Chris Crandall, a professor of psychology at the University of Kansas who studies fan loyalty, told me. Crandall explained that the team’s success 50 years ago may have cemented my childhood loyalty, and their subsequent failure has not removed him. Crandall said that the new situation (“Wow, those guys suck”) “is basically the same as the old one, but the old is still there.” “And it’s very difficult to get rid of it.”
At least I’m old enough to remember the only team championship. Possibly the first memory of Wizards fans in their thirties is John Wall’s dramatic three-pointer in Game Six of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Of course, The Wizards lost Game 7. But one reason the fans persist is the sinister pride they have in their fan base, Edward Hurt, an Indiana University professor who studies the psychology of sports fans, told me. Rooting for the Lakers or the Dallas Cowboys is like wearing khakis: you barely stand out in a crowd. The love of therapists gives me a defiant sense of individuality. “Do you want to be like everyone else, or do you want to be different?” Hurt said. “The answer is no. We want to be a bit of both. We like feeling like we belong, but we don’t want to be seen as a clone of anyone else either.”
Supporting the loser fulfills both desires. I can hook up with fellow fans at a bar or a sports game, but when I walk into an airport, even in the capital, I’m often the only person wearing a wizard’s hat. And honestly, I love it. Wiz fan, Andrew Billings, professor of sports media at the University of Alabama, told me it sends a message to the world: “How loyal? I’m rooting for the Washington Wizards.” (Which, let’s be real, would be a great shirt.) In a 2015 study of students from seven universities, 55 percent were football fans Less likely to wear team clothes After defeat compared to winning. But those who do make a statement: I’m not a fan of fair weather; I am dedicated and trustworthy.
These noble traits, Hurt added, explain why fans of poor teams despise fair-weather fans. Stroller lovers go beyond the suffering but embrace the glory. If The Wizards somehow make it to the NBA Finals this year, I’ll be both happy and pissed off at the throngs of enthusiastic fans at their downtown viewing parties. Where was Yahoo’s bandwagon in 2001, when the team finished 19-63?
But perhaps winning is less important than we think — even to die-hard fans who react to every loss with a primal cry. in 2019 study, Fans of a college football team felt a rise in their self-esteem for two days after the victory. But levels of self-esteem did not drop significantly among loser fans. One reason: Even if your team loses, you can raise your self-esteem simply by empathizing with friends, said Billings, one of the co-authors.
Yes, suffering is bad, but suffering together He has some gains. It can act as a social glue that intensifies bonds with the team and fellow fans. “Passing through that hardship with your sports team makes you more likely to stay with them,” Omri Gilath, a professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, told me. Fans don’t just enjoy reflected glory, or BIRG, as psychologists call it; They are also BIRF – bask in reflex shame. “It’s about having a community of people who understand you and love the same thing you do,” Gilath said.
Last season, my friend and I attended the Wizards’ house finale, and were attacked by the equally lousy Knicks. But my friend and I enjoyed laughing over a pre-game beer. We made sarcastic comments when Wiz turned a 10-0 lead into a 22-point deficit. I bought an end-of-season T-shirt at a discount from the team store. Hearing the Knicks fans shouting about their win was upsetting, but we had fun. We are enslaved.
But rooting for a losing team may be a dying phenomenon. Sports betting and live streaming have made sports more secluded and less tied to where you live — undermining some of the reasons fans can put up with their horrific teams. “Geographical loyalty is particularly strong for the older generations, in part because they weren’t nearly as mobile in their jobs or careers as younger people,” Billings said. “I live in Alabama. If I wanted to be a Golden State Warriors fan, I could get into 82 regular season games in a way that wasn’t possible for the older generations when they built a fan base.” Billings believes that younger fans may be more inclined to follow one player from a particular team.
Let’s be clear: winning is better than losing. A 2013 study found that on the Monday after NFL games, fans of losing teams were more likely to be Consume saturated fats And sugars compared to fans of the winning teams. But I really believe – and this is probably a loser talk – that decades of Wizards fans have made me a better human being. I have well-developed coping skills. Me and my friends like Statler Waldorfcortical sections on puppet show: We manage staggering losses through timely pranks. I’m not very happy after a victory – although wins mean more when they are rare – or very sad after a defeat. Hell, it probably made me more sympathetic to people’s challenges. After all, most of us in life can act like magicians who are constantly struggling more than warriors who raise the trophy.
Although I know better, I’m optimistic this season won’t be a #SoWizards year. Maybe the team will cheer. Perhaps the young players will develop. Perhaps the veterans will remain in good health. Or maybe not. You’ve decided that a struggling sports franchise is like your stupid brother or uncle ass. Despite all their obvious flaws, you still love them. And so I’ll cherish the memories of the disco-era lead, celebrate unexpected victories, cling to foolish hope, and prepare myself for the worst. If they miss playoffs – again – well, there’s always next year.