Dec 052016

Sports is big business and the fans are what keep the juggernaut rolling. But what do fans get from sports? The answer is rather depressing: a whole lot of losing with a little bit of winning thrown in to keep them interested.

Many sports fans are stat geeks but when it comes to analyzing the most important stats, they simply ignore it, or worse, embrace it with self wallowing.

What you get from most sports fans is a gloomy outlook regarding their team and the stats show just why this is the case. Some sports fans exude confidence and hope but they’re fighting against the sad truth of the matter.

Guys (and it’s mostly guys) will spend inordinate amounts of time watching sports, listening to pundits, and also talking about sports with fellow fans. Many play fantasy sports games which have become incredibly popular and many will also gamble money on sports. The investment some men make is absolutely massive.

Let’s take a look at what a typical sports fan is up against by way of example.

John is a New Yorker who loves the four most popular sports in the US. Being from America’s biggest city gives him a choice unavailable in most other cities because the four major sports all have two teams from New York. When picking which teams to support, John decides to pick the most successful New York teams from each of the four sports. He therefore chooses the Giants for football, the Yankees for baseball, the Knicks for basketball and the Rangers for hockey.

These choices were made by John as a young teenager twenty five years ago. So let’s look at how his four teams have performed over a quarter century.

The Giants: 2 Super Bowl titles

The Yankees: 5 World Series titles

The Knicks:  0 NBA Championships

The Rangers: 1 Stanley Cup

So in the 25 years across four sports, John has celebrated 8 titles. So that’s roughly one title every three years which doesn’t sound bad but it’s much worse than that in actuality. 25 seasons in four sports corresponds to 100 seasons in total. So the actual success rate is far less than a third. It’s 8% to be exact.

That’s an appalling return in success given the huge commitment. Hundreds of games take place every year across these four sports. And believe me, there are men out there that will watch as many of the games as they can each season. And all for a lousy 8% success rate. And John is one of the luckier ones given his location and team choices. Had he chosen to support the Jets, the Mets, the Nets (look at how they all rhyme!) and the Islanders (pity they aren’t called the Islets), then his success rate over the last 25 years would have been… wait for it… 0%.

Now, I’m using the example of the overall team winners in each of the four major professional competitions. Within the season itself, teams will often win more than half their games in a season without winning the overall championship. But here’s the problem, all the victories mean nothing unless the team actually wins the championship. That’s the sad thing about it all. Many fans will get their hopes up at the start of the season if their team gets off to a solid start. What’s sadder to see is when fans still support their bums at the end of the season even though their season is effectively over. So many wasted hours, and often so much wasted money from attending the games, buying merchandise,  or paying a hefty monthly cable fee for TV channels showing the games.

With the odds of losing greatly outweighing those of winning, it’s no surprise that many sports fans will go beyond their home town and look for teams elsewhere. Some do it openly while others keep a low profile as they support a team that could be up to 3,000 miles away from where they live.

Supporting a second team is a soulless affair unless the fan fully commits to them and even then there’s something hollow and dirty about it. It’s like when a man cheats on his wife with a more attractive woman. It may be great in the moment but afterwards the feeling is one of revulsion and emptiness.

The mental state of the average sports fan is one of losing. It becomes a habit. It becomes the default mindset. They get used to it. Winning is a rare event and it’s fleeting. Kept within the realm of sports wouldn’t be so bad but the mental state expands beyond their all-consuming pastime.

Losing a game can cause hours and often days of anger, frustration and unhappiness. The damage this can have on men can’t be overstated. With such a time commitment, it’s impossible not to be invested emotionally. Hundreds of millions of men across the world suffer from this self affliction of disappointment after disappointment. Their whole outlook and life becomes dominated by losing.

There are many challenging and rewarding hobbies and pastimes out there; being a sports fan is not one of them.

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