Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lose, damn you, LOSE! Go Team!

This post is about sports.  But not about sports.

I am a sports fan.  Baseball is my favorite, but football, hockey, soccer...they all stoke some passionate fire for me.  I have found myself, as a fan, in an odd place recently: cheering for my favorite team to lose.

As far as hockey goes, this is one sport where my favorite team is not the one I grew up cheering for.  Though I'm from the Philly 'burbs I am more of an Ottawa Senators fan than a Flyers one.  The interest there started when Ottawa got an expansion team that entered the NHL in the 92-93 season.  The Flyers stunk at the time, and with a teen interest in all things Ancient Rome I decided to follow the new team with the Roman Centurion logo.  The effort I put in trying to keep track of a small market Canadian team in a little-televised or reported on sport...well, let's just say it wasn't easy.  If I was lucky, I'd catch 30 seconds of Ottawa highlights a week, and The Hockey News was always a week behind at the local 7-Eleven.  Eventually, my hockey heart resided in another country.

And boy, did the Senators suck the first few years.  Spectacularly.  But they managed to squeak into the playoffs in the spring of 1997 in the final game of the season.  I got to watch the last 5 minutes of that game on ESPN2, saw them take a 1-0 lead on the Buffalo Sabres on a goal by defenseman Steve Duchene, watched the team skate around the ice like they'd just won a championship.  It would be the start of respectability for a team that had been the laughing stock of the league, and their high point would be an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.

They're going to miss the playoffs for just the second time in 15 seasons, and there's so little hope for a turnaround with this year's roster that I've actually been hoping they lose games for the sole purpose of getting a higher pick in the next amateur draft!  The general manager has started trading away the players with any value, and the team has become a bunch of kids and minor leaguers who are playing with more spunk and fire than the jaded vets who preceded them. 

No need to be so glum, coach!

It's a weird feeling, rooting for your team to lose.  I feel like I should be ashamed, for urging them on the downward spiral.  It's not that I want them to do poorly, I just want what is best for them going forward.  I think that the house needs to be razed right to foundation, rather than keep shoring up the sagging floors and bowed walls.  Even this logic doesn't make sense to some fans, I guess, who feel that if the result doesn't get tabulated in the W column, then it was a failure. 

Starting over from's sometimes a better option.  I discovered this when I felt I had to break up a ten year marriage.  A few years later and I'm in a much better relationship.  The pain of taking a match to something that was "safe" but flawed in every way was worth the rebirth I experienced as I stood up from the ashes.  I discovered it again when writing a story that was, to be honest, a train wreck of plot, and the problems couldn't be fixed through revision, the whole thing had to be dumped and started over with a new focus.

So I say to the Ottawa Senators: it's okay to tank the rest of the season.  Yesterday's win against the Maple Leafs, which vaulted you 1 point ahead of the Oilers to be ranked 29th (of 30 teams) in the league is only a minor setback.  It might be hurting right now, but it'll only get better from here.


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