Opinion: The lovable losers



Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson is a senior architecture major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

I’m a new Chicago Cubs fan; it’s a relatively recent thing. My love for the underdogs is not one steeped in tradition, and in fact was initially forced. It stemmed from an old friend from high school and an ex-boyfriend, both of whom are die-hard followers.

I grew up watching New York Yankees games with my mom and going to minor league games in my hometown. Still, I was stubborn, and despite my love of baseball, I was resistant to liking the Cubs. The clear choice would have been the Cincinnati Reds – myself being from Southern Ohio – or my mom’s teams, the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. But I never felt a sense of loyalty toward any one team in particular; I just loved the game.

Even though I had spent a day in Chicago enjoying a game at Wrigley Field, I was still unwilling to cheer for the Cubs. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I made the choice to sit down and watch a game without a fuss. That summer, after following the team for about four months, I bought my blue hat with the red letter C above the brim. That hat has become one of my favorite articles of clothing.

Now, I have my favorite players and always feel a twinge of happiness whenever I see that they haven’t been traded and are returning to play in the coming season. Whenever I can, I watch or follow their progress online and try to go to at least one game a year, catching them when they stop in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, finally able to commit.

That’s exactly the quality that I was lacking four years ago, one that is instrumental to the institution of a losing team’s fandom. A friend once commented on the fan mentality of the Cleveland Browns, saying that in spite of the very apparent pattern of losing seasons, a true Browns fan follows each game and is still visibly upset when they lose. No matter what, Browns fans go down fighting, which I personally feel is meant to make up for the team’s lack of ability to do so. Followers of the Cubs share a similar quality; there are very few half-hearted Cubs fans.

Following a team with a losing record has become a character-building exercise, teaching me patience and unconditional love. Other than life lessons hidden in a frustrating loss, any Pittsburgh Pirates fan will tell you there are definite perks to 21 losing seasons. Dedication to a city they love and things such as inexpensive games filled with decent food, dashing pierogies, and fireworks keep them coming back year after year.

Regardless of whether they win or lose, I still thoroughly enjoy watching the Cubs and regularly remember the lessons that I had to learn in order to be capable of loving them the way I do.