What the Super Bowl Can Teach Us About the Joys of Pessimism

Well, that’s it. It’s all over now. The end of another American football season. Can’t say it was consequential in any meaningful way, but amongst serious thinkers, such diversions are often times woefully underappreciated (while being simultaneously overappreciated by the masses). Oh, sure, they’re ok with “art”–usually of the boring, pretentious, sterile, ultimately of the unchallenged and unchallenging caliber–but serious thinkers are almost invariably dismissive of art in motion. Living Art. Nee: athletic achievement. Athletes, at their best, are spontaneously acting out, on impromptu stages, many of the myths, legends, heroic and tragic archetypes that most artists only think they’re channelling. “Poetry in motion” may be a cliche, but it is so for a good reason. Athletic achievement at its best is very Zen. It’s like a good haiku, or a koan. Fifteen hundred years ago, when a monk asked Zhao Zhou if a dog had Buddha nature, Zhao Zhou replied–legendarily–with “Mu.” (Literally “no,” or “without,” but meaning so much more in the context in which the question was asked. The entire state of the Universe freezes into The Void with such a perfect response.) But today, if asked if a dog has Buddha nature, I’d simply download a youtube video of “Rampage” Jackson powerbombing Ricardo Arona through the floor of a boxing ring.

Which is all besides the point. The point is there will be a lot of disappointed people skulking around today and for weeks to come. Longtime fans of the Seattle Seahawks will be having a difficult time Monday morning trying to identify the source of their hangover symptoms. Was it all the Bud Light lime-a-ritas and queso dip and guacamole? Or are these headaches, indigestion, and general lethargy the results of the up-and-down turmoil of watching your favorite team lose a championship on the back of some downright emetic play-calling?Probably a combination of both. These people were optimistic. Seattle Seahawk fans were aware of the possibility that their team might win a second-straight championship and they accepted that possibility. Many pictured what the moment would feel like. They envisioned themselves jumping up and down and celebrating with their loved ones (as well as with many people they simply put up with) as the seconds on the game clock ticked toward zero. They saw Russell Wilson smiling that All-American (Family Insurance) smile, and Marshawn Lynch swallowing in one gulp an entire celebratory pack of skittles. For some fans the dream was so real they even emptied their bank account to travel to the Wasteland that is Glendale, Arizona so they could celebrate the victory there, in person, with the team.

What a fucking waste of money that turned out to be.

But it’s not just Seahawk fans that will be suffering. Haters of the Patriots are suffering, as well. Being a fan of a team and having your heartbroken is one thing, but being a hater and watching as the team (or person, for that matter) you hate be successful is even worse. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are now officially members of The Pantheon. From now until the moment the National Football League ceases to exist, you’ll hear about the greatness of the Patriots dynasty. No great coach or quarterback will ever be spoken about without being compared to the likes of Belichick and Brady. It’s going to be a miserable time for American Football fans who also happen to hate these two fucks.

Anyhow, there are two groups of people who will have wonderful mornings. Members of both groups will wake up, and the sun will shine a little brighter, their coffee will taste a little more sweet, the morning air will feel a little more brisk. They will spend the morning two inches off of the ground, floating from one chore to another, content, for the moment, with the knowledge that they Rooted for the Right Team. They are part of a Winning Tribe. And that’s all humans really want: to be a member of the right group.

This fact is evidenced by the choices of one of those groups. You see, the first group, obviously, consists of actual, true, long-time fans of the Patriots. But the second group consists entirely of people who are considered to be the mercenaries of the sports world: bandwagon fans.

Bandwagon fans are easy to spot because they’re wearing the gear of any team that recently won anything important. In recent years, you probably remember seeing a sudden influx (and then deflux) of people in your vicinity wearing Miami Heat clothing, for example. Before that a lot of people were into the Pittsburgh Steelers when they were winning Super Bowls. Those Steeler fans dusted off their old Patriots hats and jerseys for last night’s game. They’re now “lifelong” Patriots fans, but don’t be fooled. If you wake up early enough, you can probably catch them scratching off the Steelers bumper sticker from the back of their Priuses. When it comes to baseball, for the past decade, a bunch of people who have never been to Massachusetts and couldn’t pronounce the name of Carl Yastrzemski, have referred to themselves as “diehard” Red Sox fans.

It’s easy to see why these people get bad raps. We have a tendency to value things like loyalty. In sports, there have been people who have lived their entire lives rooting for one team and have died not seeing that team win a championship. That’s loyalty. That’s something not to be trifled with. It’s almost sacred. You don’t make a mockery of that shit by switching teams whenever it seems fit. Also, when you spend your life rooting for a team that never wins shit, and then they finally win shit, it feels really fucking good. You didn’t really accomplish anything, but, hey, you were loyal as fuck, and I don’t know about you, but I’ll take what I can. The bandwagoners can suck a dick. Then they always have some bullshit excuse whenever they switch teams. I know people who claim that they’re Patriots fans because they root for the University of Michigan in college football and were fans of Tom Brady when he played there, even though Tom Brady was a fucking backup quarterback at Michigan and nobody knew who the fuck he was until Belichick made him a starting quarterback in the NFL. Fucking phonies.

Dueling Bandwagons

However, these negative outlooks are probably misguided. The bandwagoners are the only truly intelligent sports fan. They have said goodbye to optimism and have embraced pessimism. They know the odds are against them picking a single team and then watching that single team win a championship every fucking year. It doesn’t happen. It can’t happen. It won’t happen. And, as I already mentioned, we love being part of a dominant tribe. It helps us feel important. And so it makes sense, actually, to ditch loyalty and shack up with whatever tribe is winning.

It’s a winning formula is what I’m saying. And I’m sorry if I had to drag anyone through all this nonsense sports talk to get to this point: It makes a lot of sense to embrace a pessimistic outlook in general. This is just as true in the world of meaningless sports circuses as it is in life.

Mr. Furious

Mr. Furious

Mr. Furious lives in rural southern Colorado and tries to live as boring, apathetic and lazy a life as possible. He is hoping one day to be invited to do a "Life Class" for "Super Soul Sundays" on the Oprah Winfrey Network. You can read his short fiction, poetry and short essays at www.puerileandpointless.blogspot.com. He wrote a really stupid novel called " Puerile and Pointless with no Hope for Enlightenment" that you can purchase at Amazon and waste your time with. He can be contacted and/or harassed at misterfurious1@yahoo.com.
Mr. Furious