Keep your chin up, Cleveland

Kate Bigam

The day after Cleveland’s heart broke last week – for about the millionth time in history, only bigger this time – the headline on read, “Get out the brooms: Spurs sweep Cavs.”

It wasn’t the only depressing, devastating headline of the bunch, but it was certainly my least favorite. At lunch with coworkers the week before the NBA Finals began, I’d wished aloud: “I hope the Cavs win at least one game.”

My prayer – and the prayers of most of Northeast Ohioans – was not answered. In a heartbreaking sweep, the Cavs fell 4-0.

I’d wanted all along for the home team to take away a win, but my devastation at the loss was exacerbated by the commentators’ lack of confidence in the Cavs’ abilities. Most notably biased against Cleveland was Jeff Van Gundy, former head coach of the Rockets and Knicks, who took every opportunity to take potshots at our team, our King and even our fans.

“This arena’s gotten pretty quiet,” he proclaimed more than once of The Q. “Cavs fans have got to be pretty embarrassed right now.” Hey, Van Gundy: Are you deaf? Even in their team’s bleakest moments, Clevelanders twirled “Rise Up” towels and screamed defensive cheers. Still, Van Gundy saw fit to predict Game Four as the deal-sealer on the Texans’ once-again win even before halftime began.

I don’t know that much about sports, but I know this – Cleveland usually sucks. Our beloved Mistake by the Lake may be known for rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s certainly not known for baskets, goals or homers. We’ve had our lucky streaks, yes, and this year certainly was one of them. But it’s been nearly a decade since the Indians hit it big, and the Browns remain virtual deadweight.

Nonetheless, Cleveland sports fans never give up. We are relentlessly hopeful, unabashedly proud and surprisingly spirited for a city whose sports teams are so regularly browbeaten. The Browns’ Dawg Pound is one of the most loyal group of fans on the planet, especially in support of a team that’s regularly trampled. And local pride for LeBron James, Cleveland’s royal son, is so overwhelming it’s no wonder the guy has chosen to stick around town for a few more years.

It’s easy to be a Spurs, Steelers or Braves fan. It’s easy to love teams that win, but it takes even more spirit and dedication to love the teams that consistently fail. That’s why Clevelanders take joy in every little success, and why fans like me reveled in the thrill of winning the Eastern Conference rather than in the depression of losing the finals.

It’s a hard-knock life being a Cleveland sports fan. But sweep or no sweep, seeing your favorite teams make it into the finals makes it all worth it. It’d be nice if, for once, the naysayers and fair-weather fans would realize the glory of getting there in the first place.

I’ve never been embarrassed to support Cleveland sports teams, and I never will be. It’s going to take more than losses and commentators to bring this city’s spirit down.

And when we do finally win something? Just wait to see what this pride looks like then.

Forum Editor Kate Bigam is a senior magazine journalism major who just bought a “LeBron is my homeboy” T-shirt. Contact her at [email protected].