Surviving a Football Loss Plan for Enthusiastic Fans

By: Matthew Mulligan

Each season brings a wealth of disappointing events to almost every fan of college football. After all, there is only one champion. Dealing with disappointment is difficult for most, but is a way of life for football fans that happened to attend a school that dedicates itself to basketball. Disappointments are especially difficult for fans of those teams who are used to beating up on everyone else. Following upset losses, these fans find themselves in a dither and have trouble ordering their morning Starbucks.



It is reasonable to be disappointed after one's favorite team loses. It is unreasonable to throw rocks at the ref's car. Some folks have dedicated themselves to football and when football lets them down, they go into a deep emotional free-fall called Over Dedication.

Signs of Over Dedication include acute depression when the favorite team loses. Individuals endure this, but occasionally, entire states mope around for weeks and can't function after their team lays an egg on the field. Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, Texas and all the major programs have failed in their own expectations at some point. The teams get over a loss, but the fan's emotional attachment to the team suffers such damage that every day life becomes a challenge.

The San Andreas Fault might run through the Cal Bears home field, but the real earthquakes took place earlier this season thousands of miles away in central Michigan. The bomb crater that was the Big House is still smoldering. Not far away from that, in South Bend, IN more tremors are occurring as the once invincible Fighting Irish rose to achieve a stunning 1-7 mark.

The cloud that still hangs over Ann Arbor smells of smoke and stale beer. Michigan needs a good wind. Michigan fans need help. Recovering from the embarrassment of losing unexpectedly and doing so in front of a television audience is a difficult task. Following their spectacular loss to someone called Appalachian State the Blue and Maize treated their fans in the subsequent week to another great public failure - this time to a team dressed too poorly for words (Oregon). This proved too much to bear. Coping skills have gone undeveloped in Ann Arbor. Inability to deal rationally with football failure raises questions of judgment and mental balance - which curiously enough, applies to winners as well as losers.

The following is a 12 Step Plan for the Over Dedicated Fan. These steps are the keys to enjoying life after a particularly disappointing loss. These steps involve increasing levels of difficulty. So follow along, learn from the descriptions and regain control over your life! This plan has been crafted to work in one week, so don't give up!

1.Admit to being powerless over my football team - Admit that my life is unmanageable.

If you are in this position, your life is unimaginable. Witness those that paint body parts in team colors. Why would anyone do this - especially on cold autumn evenings? Most university infirmaries are half way houses dressed up as clinics where you can't tell which half most of the residents are heading for. Inviting pneumonia isn't good for the GPA and beer doesn't make it better. Alums don't handle this any better than students as many really didn't want to graduate anyway.

Powerlessness over football passion is a threat to one's well-being. Not spending the rent at the bar has always been a challenge - especially for Illinois fans. One must depend on one's friends to spend their rent money on you at the bar. Then go home. This is a necessary life skill.

2. Belief in a power greater than myself that will restore sanity.

Usually, this power arrives in the form of a police officer. The officer is restoring sanity for everyone in your section, your dorm, your block or your house. This allows the recovering fan to receive a little time for quiet reflection along with some really big compatriots - one of whom is named Bucky.

3.Stop controlling and live in the moment.

You didn't throw the interception. You can't command the kicker to miss the extra point. You can't get that cheerleader to look at you. So give it up. You have bigger problems - like getting a C on the English Comp paper that is due at 8 am Monday.

Alums have similar problems. Attending business meetings with a hangover is poor lifestyle choice. Alums also can't get that cheerleader to look at 'em. So unless you can pass better than Brady Quinn, sit in the stands and enjoy the game!

4.Assess your personal ethical strengths.

This is a quick step. Most fans check their moral inventories at the stadium gate. It is a short list anyway. And when they pick it up on the way home, its a whole lot shorter.

Assess what you value in life. Honestly ask yourself 'am I a good person?' When was the last time I bought a round down at the Stadium Inn? So if you hang out at the Stadium Inn, share the load.

5.Shine the light of day upon my wrongs.

Shine all you want.. You are in the stadium with 50,000 other people doing the same thing. Why does the TV Cameraman keep pointing at me?

Asking questions is healthy. Not answering them is dangerous. For Alums that can't get tickets anywhere but the student section this is doubly dangerous. Holding the babe over your head and passing her off to the guy behind you only invites tough questions from the wife. Don't do anything that you would be embarrassed about if it showed up on Action News at 11.

6.Throw away all deficient characteristics.

Right when I leave the stadium. Or... right after I leave the bar. Or... forget it I'm going to bed.

Character flaws reveal themselves all at once during football season. The combination of heat, cold, liquor, noise and good looking college co-eds causes most male sense to get booted right through Touchdown Jesus' arms. Unfortunately, this scores no points and is a possible source of extortion when one finally wants to settle down and get married. This also allows female companions a useful opportunity to gain promises of future actions - not for things like cutting the lawn, but for big stuff like long vacations in exchange for allowing one to watch his team uninterrupted for a couple hours. Southern girls have this down to an art. If they go to a game, they don't bring any money.

7.Implore the Supreme Being to remove all defects and shortcomings.

Right after he removes the shortcomings of our running game! Is God watching this? If he was, he'd hit that O-Line with a 2 by 12.

Asking God to remove one's shortcomings is a job He'll probably drop right back on your sunburned bald spot - and He'll most likely laugh as you stumble through the exercise. You dug the hole, now you fill it in. If you want to watch Penn State play Slippery Rock instead of working on your Physics homework, your call. But save your breath come pop-quiz time. This applies to Alums who need work but only make it as far as the ESPN Zone.

8.Make things right with all that have been harmed.

Do referees count? How do I make it up to all the families in section 202?

Recovering fans really have to work at this. It is impossible to right the all wrongs of the season opening game. Everyone who heard your utterances while leaving the Big House last Saturday were thinking the same thing, though. Why should you be punished for saying what everyone else was thinking? The answer: because your conscience is buried in the closet with a bagel from last week, half a can of flat Miller Lite and your Black Sabbath tapes.

9.Provide reparation to those that have been wronged.

The Recovering Fan himself is included in this. This part of the process frequently goes bad for the RF as attempts to apologize only reignite the passions that caused the problem in the first place. Making an apology to a girlfriend while trying to climb up to her balcony is risky business - especially after the liquid required to gain courage for the venture.

10.Maintain personal ethical and moral standards and when wrong, promptly own up to it and correct any error.

Most Recovering Fans have to schedule this like a regular class. Alumni frequently have to re-enroll in this course and all tend seek the assistance of others. Others tend to have better observation skills towards our own actions. If not carefully selected, these "others" can actually be honest and cause you to have to do some real work. So it is important to choose a Recovering Fan who is crazier than you.

11.Meditate to improve relationship with the Supreme Being, not asking for outcomes, but for guidance.

Most prayerful moments on campus do in fact take place either at the football stadium or near Sorority Row. They are inspired pleas and impassioned prayers and for better or worse, are at least honest. Don't worry about this one. Scholars are wrong when they say religion is gone from our college campuses. Prayer is an active part of campus life.

12.Keep the new-found peace close to your active, conscious self.

By the time most Over Dedicated fans get to this part, it is Friday evening and the gang is headed down to the local pub to psych up for tomorrow's game. By Friday evening, it is difficult to raise the moral standards to a higher consciousness, so the standard practice is to lower one's consciousness to the level of whatever moral state one falls into at the end of the week. This may be done at the Stadium Inn.

So have a good time on Saturday, but don't do anything that will cause moral stress or anxiety should your team come out on the short end. And if Michigan tanks at home again this season, send a care package.

For more wit and wisdom, please visit http://firstworst.com - where losing comes first!

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