It’s such a simple question, but yet so complicated — what does it mean to be a fan?
Being a fan takes dedication and senselessness, among many other things. As a fan of a team you can experience pure joy and elation that’s extremely hard to replicate elsewhere, but being a fan can also can bring about feelings of hopelessness and depression. And for Wizards fans, there has been far too much of the ladder this season, and in recent seasons as a whole.
Losing consistently isn’t fun, and it’s not easy. It may even test your fanhood. You may wonder why you spend over two hours watching Wizards games and wonder why you care so much. But you know what? You keep coming back for more. You don’t know why, but you do.
That’s a fan.
The point remains that it’s harder to be a fan of a struggling team. No one wants to be told, “hey, Wizards suck” all the time. I know it eats at me. We could all jump ship and become Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat fans, but I won’t — and you won’t — because we have too much pride in ourselves and our woeful Wizards, because that’s our team for better or worse.
Anybody can be a fan of a great team. When you become a fan by jumping on a team’s bandwagon, it’s easy to wear that team’s t-shirt in public and talk trash to your friends. But there’s something special about watching your favorite team go from being a perennial lottery team to a contender. There’s no guarantee that the Wizards will ever take that jump, but that’s the hope we all have as fans.
If — but as fans, we say “when” — the Wizards return to contention and relevance, being a fan will become much more enjoyable, and it’ll feel less like a chore. And then all the losing that we’ve been forced to endure will feel like it happened for a reason, even though it feels agonizing going through it now.
Getting back to the original question, “what does it mean to be a fan?” The one answer everybody should have in their definition is that being a fan means never quitting and never walking away, no matter how bad the team is.
I know I won’t be giving up on the Wizards, and if you’re reading this, then there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be throwing in the towel on our Wizards either.
Here’s to next year.