Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Being a Jazz fan, or how I became intimately familiar with the 5 stages of grief

Sports teams that I follow is an interesting concept for me. I'm a Yankees fan, so naturally I'm accustomed to winning (27 world series titles baby). I also cheer for the 49ers who, up until this past decade, were also quite good at what they did. So it made sense for me to follow the Jazz when they went to the Finals against the Bulls.
Those were the good days

I followed the Jazz tentatively until the departure of John Stockton and Karl Malone. At that point I decided I wasn't a huge basketball fan and turned my attention to baseball for wins and football for the assurance that I wasn't a bandwagon jumper. That was the norm until November of 2010 when I had the pleasure of watching the so-called "Miracle in Miami". That game was what sucked me back into the maelstrom of depression and unabated rage that defines being an acolyte of the Utah Jazz. At that point I came to understand the 5 stages of grief associated with this sports team.

Stage 1: Denial

Not sure what this picture has to do with denial, but thanks Google Images!
Every season starts off the same for me (and most Jazz fans I dare say). Usually the sentence is something along these lines: "This season will be different, this year we have [insert whatever our secret weapon is e.g. Young players, super star, the Jazz Bear is now playing for the team] This year we will do awesome!". What's frustrating about this stage is that the Jazz play into it. They start off playing incredibly well, even going undefeated in preseason. They wrap you in their lanky arms and and whisper sweet nothings in your ear telling you that everything will be ok, and that this time around it's going to be different. Just when you truly begin to feel they're telling the truth, they lose. And then they continue to lose.  Which brings us to…

Stage 2: Anger
Me at the end of the first quarter of any given Jazz game

People think I'm an angry person. This isn't quite true, I play an angry person in real life. I yell and swear and threaten people, but the truth is none of it means anything. Really I'm just a porcupine person. I'm pretty cuddly when you get past the spines, the hissing, and the foaming at the mouth.

The Jazz, however, piss me off.

How can a team that can play so well against some of the top teams in this league, be toted as one of the up and coming organizations, have some of the best players around, and then turn around an lose to a bunch of Canadians.

Screw you Canada

If this happened once or twice a season it wouldn't cause me anger, but this just seems to be the way the Jazz have decided to run their organization. And quite frankly I would do nearly anything to get them to change. Enter stage 3.

Stage 3: Bargaining

By about December I'm making deals with the Jazz as a team and on an individual basis (ask Zac about his deal with CJ Miles).
You were one game away CJ...TWICE!
PS: I wish it were your head in that net you stupid Flap Dragon!

I can't number how many times I said "win this game and I will buy tickets to another game this season" or "make this shot and I will buy your jersey" all to no avail (likely because they can't hear me through the television but facts are irrelevant). Every time my bargain goes unheard and every time I die a bit inside. Finally, after all the hope I had at the beginning of the season has been smashed repeatedly like a papaya beneath the foot of and exceptionally large man who is screaming "DIE PAPAYA! DIE!"  (Imagine Zac with a beard and steroid rage) I sink into the lethargic grasp o' depression

Stage 4: Depression

The bottle becomes my confidant, I whisper vague threats against players who in reality don't exist to it's neck as I wash my pain away in a caffeinated non-alcoholic beverage that for some reason looks like Jack Daniels.

Typically around January I hit the point where it's just too sad to really continue caring about the situation. This season will end in defeat, likely to the Lakers, and I will forget about professional basketball for the foreseeable future and it will be wonderful. This is usually the shortest stage for me because I realize that it's just a game and will have no real bearing on my life. Which leads us to…

Stage 5: Acceptance

This stage actually just started for me this season. Sure I would love the Jazz to win but in reality I will survive if they don't. At that point I start to enjoy watching the game for the games sake. If we lose instead of "I will destroy this planet with my mind bullets of hate" it becomes "Awe shucks. Well there is always next game."
Me after the Jazz lose for the 42nd time in a row.

Now the key for me is really to just figure out how to start the season in this stage.

- Ricky

**UPDATE**: the Jazz lost to the Kings the night this was posted, and I'm ok with that.

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