This week while perusing Facebook, my memories from previous years popped up on my timeline. I quickly clicked on them, mostly to see if there are any old pictures of my kids when they were little. An old OBNUG article was included in the memories, which I thought was interesting. Mind you, this was before I writing for the greatest blog ever. Many of you remember OBNUG emeritus Kevan Lee, and this particular article was written by the father of our dear Mr. Fiskers.
This article resonated enough with me 5 years ago, and after reading it again, it still rings true today. Kevan’s article was all about letting go.
Having been raised a Bronco fan since birth, I remember the days when we actually lost to Idaho. Yup, that happened. I remember when we had some tough games in the Big Sky. My earliest memory was sitting in the living room in the dark with my family watching the Broncos play the Montana State Bobcats. The Bobcats had converted on a 3rd down, I believe, and I turned to my mom and said, “Mom, can I say something if it isn’t naughty?” Puzzled, my mom said, “Of course.” My response? “Damn it!” She let out a surprised chuckle and quickly told me that that is not something we say.
There have been many, MANY instances in the 30 years since that game in which I uttered many other phrases, both naughty and benign. It took some time, though, of sweaty evenings and heart-racing afternoons before I got to the point of enough is enough.
I found myself both loving and hating the team I was born to root for. I was constantly enamored and frustrated simultaneously at the school I graduated from. I swooned and cursed at the team I was raising my daughters to adore.
There was very little enjoyment on game day. I usually wouldn’t eat anything as my stomach was in knots with nerves. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest the entire first half. Even in blowouts I found myself yelling at the receivers when they dropped the ball, when the running backs took the wrong angle, or the LB missed an open-field tackle.
Fortunately for me, I recognized the problem before it REALLY affected my love for the Broncos, let alone my health.
I let everything go.
I stopped criticizing the coaches for the plays they ran. I stopped worrying the quarterback would read the defense correctly. I DEFINITELY stopped worrying if the kicker would split the uprights.
That isn’t to say that I don’t get nervous, frustrated or upset during games because I absolutely do. When I do, I immediately check myself.
“Casey, you have no control over the actions of the players, the decisions of the coaches or the outcome of this game. Let it go like the song from Frozen suggests.” (I have two daughters, trust me...I know it by heart.)
The coaches are paid VERY well to run the football program. I decided to stop worrying about it and just let them do their job. The players are 18 to 23 year-old kids (except for Darren Lee, who is 40) trying to figure out life and play a game they love to get an education at a stellar university.
They will all make mistakes just as we all do. Our gripes and frustrations about their decisions and actions will not forward their progress or help them in any way, nor will it help ourselves.
To reference Kevan’s article, the 2011 Broncos were fresh off a 41-21 win over Tulsa. During the press conference, Pete addressed the issue the team was having of playing a full game, a complete performance if you will. Sound familiar? It’s amazing how similar the two seasons began. Heck, 2011 was the last time the Broncos started 3-0, just as we have this season.
Travel 5 years into the future and here we are, 3-0, coming off a 38-24 victory over the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. You, dear reader, know as well as I do, that there are plenty of fans out there that weren’t celebrating the win, but criticizing the second half performance.
I was just as frustrated as the next person at our second half woes. I stopped and thought about it, though. We beat the Beavers at home, which we had never done, by 2 touchdowns and moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2011. Not a lot to be upset about in the end, right?
Don’t get me wrong, this article is not meant to call out those individuals. I am just as guilty as the next fan. After all, ’fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’. For those of you a little fuzzy on the definition, a fanatic is a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause. I don’t know about you, but being a Bronco fan is pretty dang close to a religious experience for me.
As fans, we tend to lose sight of why we watch the Broncos. It’s because we love our school and want so badly for them to win. No one likes losing, but every team does— Some more than others and the Broncos have been fortunate to be on the winning side more often than not.
Fandom can set us up for epic elation or a monumental meltdown. I’ve carried out both myself and while the elation was amazing, the meltdowns were not so amazing. I got to the point where I would have meltdown after meltdown on a play-by-play basis. No one has that much Maalox at their disposal.
What if we lose on the Blue? Well, that happened (twice!), and we bounced back and won some games. What happens if we don’t win the Mountain West? Well, that happened too. We went to a bowl game and didn’t play too poorly in that one.
As Kevan said 5 years ago, football is much more fun without the second-guessing and the Chicken Little routine. It isn’t always easy and it takes a concerted effort as a fan. If you try, I think you will find your Friday nights or Saturday afternoons much more enjoyable.
How about you, readers and fans? Do you get caught up in the moment? Or do you let the tension melt away in a La-Z-Boy and just enjoy the ride?