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It’s not too often that I hate what I do for a living anymore. Blogging about Minnesota sports is a good gig, especially when you’ve built a website that gets 10’s of thousands of clicks per month, and those numbers are trending closer to a 6-figures recently. Soon, those clicks will turn to $$$ and life will be really good… but that’s not how I feel today. Today, blogging about Minnesota sports sucks.
In 2009, after the Vikings lost in New Orleans, my long-distance girlfriend in Illinois (now my wife – sort of) didn’t hear from me for a week. Classes were skipped, movies were binged, redemption Madden seasons were played, and some books were read for sure…. but heartache was soaked in. A soul needs time to heal from these moments.
Because, I hate losing…. a lot. But, that’s a good thing.
Losing has become part of the culture in Minnesota, though. We’ve seen a lot of it over the last 30-60 years (depending on your fandom) and it gets harder and harder over time (that’s what she said) to be punched in the face year-in and year-out. It’s times like today, after an excruciating loss, that many fans fall off the bandwagon in one way or another. Some might throw up their hands and move on completely, opting to find other allegiances within the sports world… but the easier thing to do, and path that’s most traveled (and most dangerous), is to just let the losing culture consume you.
Our streets are littered with Minnesota sports fans like this, already. There are really two different classes. I’ll distinguish the two by quoting them directly.
Loser MN Fan A: “It doesn’t matter, this is Minnesota. We don’t get nice things.” OR “Nobody wants to play here anyways… and why should they?”
Loser MN Fan B: “Why are you so negative? Just enjoy the season.” OR “Why are you getting so upset? Winning isn’t everything…”
Before I move on, let me point out that “Loser MN Fan B” is WAY WORSE than “Loser MN Fan A”.
What both of these two fans have in common though, is that neither cares. Everyone should be able to fan however they want to, don’t get me wrong; but if we continue to let this disease of complacency infect our fan bases, then more losing will follow. Winning starts with the fans. That’s why city’s are awarded a professional sports teams in the first place, right? Everyone else involved is paid to be there and making money off of you, the fan. They are going to work and making money for their real lives. You are consuming them to escape real life. If fans accept losing and stop demanding wins, then ownership, on down the line, will too.
With their complacent fan base, teams like the Twins will never make the financial investment they need, in order to roster a World Series team. You’re already seeing this unfold during the offseason we’re currently in. Meanwhile, teams like the Wolves will continue to pat everyone on the back, handing out trophies and positive articles through state-sponsored media, for every miniscule victory throughout the season, instead of focusing on the best way to collect more W’s. When the fan base cares more about being a small-market team than a winning one, or they counts hugs instead of wins, the demeanor of the franchise will reflect that.
Scarier yet, owners like the Wilfs or Leipold could get complacent and stop demanding/investing their personal best year after year. For a successful business person who currently makes their presence known at team facilities on the regular, it seems a lot easier to find a penthouse somewhere warm and count dollar signs instead of wins and losses. The quality of coaches deteriorate down this path as well… because good coaches want to win and if winning isn’t supported here, they will find somewhere it is. That means goodbye to PJ Fleck, who has been warning us since the day he got here, that our attitudes toward winning needs to change. For fans, that means an expectation to win… because he knows that’s where it all starts.
So, while waking up this morning might hurt… just remember, that’s a good thing. Grab some extra ice cream and take some time off work, if you need it. Grieve properly, watch replays, laugh, cry… and feel this loss. Remember, it should hurt. If it doesn’t, that’s bad.
Then when ready, open a newspaper, turn on the radio, or open up your favorite blog site and remember that WINNING IS EVERYTHING, no matter what you’ve heard elsewhere. When you jump in the comment section, talk to your friends and family, or get on social media… don’t be afraid to demand excellence. It’s not wrong to demand winning out of professional sports franchises that are put there to do just that. In return, those associated with that franchise receive more money and job security for their future… Success is measured by winning.
This is Minnesota. All we do is raise real-life winners that go on to make this world a better place…. we deserve winning sports franchises too.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan
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