The island of misfit teams

P.T. Barnum once proclaimed, "There's a sucker born every day."

There are times, when I look back upon the many years I've spent rooting for the pro sports teams in Cleveland, with very little return on my – always psychological, sometimes monetary – investment, I invariably arrive at one question: Why? As in, "Why have I spent so much of my life enduring the torment associated with our, ahem, "professional" franchises, when the 'pattern of pathetic' was established so very long ago?"

Ever wonder what it is that lures you toward some sports and also repels you away from others? My reasons were really twofold: 

First, I had a natural interest in the sports I played growing up, so the association makes sense. Having rough-housed it on the mean streets of Westlake in my formative years, most of our outdoor play consisted of baseball, football and basketball. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why my three greatest allegiances then lay with the Indians, Browns and Cavaliers. I could relate, baby.

Hockey? We didn't have equipment, nor did we have enough players to have a game. Plus, to play it, it didn't have to just be cold, it had to be ice cold. I don't mind sharing the fact that after taking more than my share of spills on the ice (ice is very hard, by the way), I was never going to be mistaken for Brian Boitano. None of my relatives liked professional hockey, and it was rarely on the tube back in the day, so I never developed a rooting interest in the Barons (AHL or NHL), the Crusaders (WHA), or any of the minor league teams that come and go fairly regularly these days.

Golf? Couldn't afford it until I was older, and by that time my skill set was fairly obvious (most of the guys I golfed with usually came equipped with a hard hat). I might go out with my son or son-in-law a couple times a year, but it's only to terrorize other folks on the course. Plus, golf is largely an individual sport. It's much more difficult to place the blame on your teammates when you're flying solo. 

Lastly, it seems that every year, whatever the sport, when a new season begins, it brings new hopes and dreams, regardless of the team's performance the season before. (In Cleveland, however, those hopes and dreams usually fall along the lines of "They have to be better than last year" or "There's nowhere to go but up"). It's the annual feeling of renewed hope, perhaps representing possible achievement of success that is missing in our own lives. But I'll leave that kind of stuff for Dr. Phil. 

It's more likely that, when it's all said and done, PT Barnum was right.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 8, Issue 8, Posted 9:43 AM, 04.19.2016