Sports fans are interesting creatures. Some are fanatical. Many are blindly loyal. Some jump on the bandwagon. Others jump off.
But generally, fans fall in one of two camps?they either view their teams through rose-colored glasses or they constantly think something bad is about to happen. In other words, fans are optimistic or pessimistic.
Consider how a discussion might sound between these two fans of the Kansas City Royals.
Optimist: ?This year is great. The front office has helped an already strong team by bringing in players like pitcher Johnny Cueto and utility player Ben Zobrist. As good as we were last year, we are better this year!?
Pessimist: ?Maybe so, but last year?s World Series was a fluke. Plus, after this year, the Royals will likely lose Alex Gordon and Cueto to free agency, and then where will we be??
Optimist: ?There?s never been a better time to be a Royals fan than now. They draw more than 30,000 fans on most nights and may set a record in attendance. Is this fun or what??
Pessimist: ?Yes, but it?s getting harder and harder to buy cheap tickets. I miss the days when I could get good seats at a relatively low price.?
Optimist: ?We have a great chance to go back to the World Series and win it this time. But win or lose, it is fun to be back in the national conversation again.?
Pessimist: ?I hope we make it back to the Series, but I?m still bummed about losing to Madison Bumgar?ner and the Giants last year. Maybe we?re better off if we don?t get back to the Series. It would spare us the agony of defeat.?
You get the idea. But this isn?t just a Royals issue. This applies to any sports team, including K-State football.
Optimist: ?I can?t wait for the Cats to prove the naysayers wrong. More often than not, Bill Snyder?s teams overachieve. He?s the best coach money can buy! It won?t shock me if we finish in the top three this year, even though we were picked seventh in the pre-season poll.?
Pessimist: ?Yeah, but as much as I like Coach Snyder, he?s no spring chicken. How much longer can he keep us relevant in the Big 12? And what will happen when he retires? Then where will we be??
Tabor College football fans also aren?t immune from this phenomenon.
Optimist: ?Watching Tabor be among the best in KCAC football year after year is great! Who would have thought this was possible just 15-20 years ago? Coach Gardner and his staff are amazing. Long live Coach Gardner.?
Pessimist: ?Yeah, but we?ve had some injuries to key players in recent years that have really hurt us. If that happens again, where will we be? And what happens if Coach Gardner leaves for another job again? What are the odds Tabor can ever land another football coach as successful as Coach Gardner??
And on and on it goes.
Maybe I?m being too dogmatic putting all fans in one of two camps. There?s probably a third group.
These fans enjoy the good times, but understand that the good times don?t last forever. They?ve lived long enough to know that sports, like life, has plenty of rough spots. In the meantime, they enjoy the ride. These fans realize that athletic competition mirrors life.
Winning and losing is important, but it?s not what?s most important. In life, like sports, the challenge is to make the most of our God-given ability and do the best we can with the time we have.
Joe Kleinsasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. He can be reached at Joe.Kleinfirstname.lastname@example.org.