(Appropriately, my last post was about “hope”; and Oregon’s 17-14 loss on Saturday has done well to test those thoughts because I was dangerously close to having faith in Oregon as opposed to controlling my hope they’d do well.)
I’ve started this post at least five different times. Unaware of the tone I wanted to indicate, the approach that would best suit, or what actually, if anything, I had to say. Understand, too, that the sentiment of all of those factors has changed drastically and constantly as well… and probably will continue to as I write.
My reaction to the Oregon Ducks overtime loss to Stanford in Autzen Stadium is void of much analysis and is instead littered with “Should-Of”s and “What-The-Fuck-Happened?”s. As a result, I’ve decided to talk to the best only Sports Therapist I know: me.
(This was difficult to simulate less because I’m bad at arguing with myself, and more because I don’t have a couch, only a loveseat, so I was cramped throughout the experience.)
So tell me, how are you dealing with the recent loss you’ve experienced?
Mainly, I’m dumbfounded, awestruck. Yet, at the same time, I’m completely numb to anything remotely parading as feeling. It’s like I’m a suburban housewife in a Sam Mendes movie.
I try and remain rational when it comes to my sports teams—sometimes to a detriment—because I think they are a symbol of my life and relationships at large, and it’s silly and wrong to invest that much of yourself purely based on the performance of someone else considering they shouldn’t be the main charge for you happiness.
Then why does it seem like this loss hurts more than the time your mother threw away all of your childhood VHS tapes without consulting you?
Because at the beginning of the season, I had my expectations for the Ducks completely in check: USC finally had their sanctions lifted, so they should be a powerhouse again; Oregon had a freshman quarterback; and LaMichael James and Darren Thomas were each gone. There was no reason to expect anything but a strong showing, but still something of a rebuilding year.
Then something happened. This team had a confidence and precision that was coming together and swayed me to start thinking bigger and outside of myself. This could be our year. My year. I’ve never experienced a championship at any level, and this could be it. However, I’m not a fan of teams that experience success, so I don’t know how to appropriate it; nor do I know how to evaluate failure as a result. I know how to evaluate failure as a normal outcome, but when I allow myself to get too invested, I become bewildered as I grasp for meaning and reason.
… Yes, I do over-think things. Often. Why would you say that?…
There’s always next year.
Yes, there is always next year, but this year would have been great to experience too.
That’s true, but you said yourself you try and maintain rationality. So this loss shouldn’t mean much more than the last win.
Yeah, but this pattern of thought in sports, as in life, is enough to drive you crazy and cause instantaneous remorse the likes of which only a spurned single aimlessly wandering the Hallmark aisles is accustomed to. (And with the holidays right around the corner.) That’s why I’m trying my best to look past the devastation and look at the bright side instead.
But here’s the thing: the bright side is becoming the losing side, and I’m tired of dealing with the losing side. I hate being complacent with my team’s losing the same way I hate that my coworkers allow themselves to be taken advantage of with a “woe-is-me” attitude; the same way I get irritated when people I love blow off conflict as a means of resolution; and absolutely the same way I get pissed at myself when I take the lumps of my situation not differentiating between “obstacles worth learning from” and “obstacles worth fighting for.”
Break through! It sounds like the real problem is you’re projecting your own issues onto everything else around you, no?
Yeah, probably. Does that mean I can start collecting Super PAC money soon?
This would be a perfect time for a Network reference. Sorry this encounter isn’t happening near a window.
S’ok. Besides, I’m not “mad as hell,” just remarkably punchy.
Well, bright side or not, Oregon’s season will likely end with an appearance and opportunity for back-to-back Rose Bowl titles. Isn’t that good enough?
You know, before they were perennially involved in the national championship picture—if this were ten years ago—that would be great. But that’s not the case anymore. They shouldn’t be pleased with that outcome. And neither should their fans. They’re better than that.
I’ve already vacillated from my opening stance because, while (I swear) I’m maintaining perspective that it’s just a game, I no longer want to settle. I’ll remain subdued in loss keeping a sort of perspective (I’m not looking for a car to flip over, or an Arby’s to rob), but I’m not going to gulp down the cocktail of frustration and ache anymore, either.
This sounds like your diatribe is about to stay outside the realm of sports.
No, Stanford deserved to win. They played better the entire game. I have enough perspective to admit that. And that’s how to correctly balance irritation with acceptance: know what you did that didn’t work, acknowledge you can do better, then expect better. I have no doubt that Oregon—and their fans—expects much better next weekend versus Oregon State.
Why do you think that?
Because we deserve it.
Yes you do.