Fandom: Are the highs higher than the lows are low?

Submitted by 1989 UM GRAD on September 22nd, 2013 at 11:25 AM

At my daughter's soccer game yesterday afternoon, one of the moms was lamenting that her husband "made" her cancel the babysitter so that they could stay home and watch the Michigan game.

She was very surprised that I - as a devoted Michigan fan - had planned an evening out with my wife.  (If you're a Beatles fan, you need to see the movie "Good 'Ol Freda.)  My response was that the game should be a blowout, and, if it weren't, I wasn't really interested in watching it.  Plus, we were going to be home in time to watch the 4th quarter.

It reminded me of a column - written by a lapsed sports fan - I read about a month ago.  His thesis was that the lows began to outweigh the highs.  That when his favorite team lost or performed poorly, it negatively affected his mood for days.  (I think we all have experienced this after the Horror, Toledo, Akron, etc.)  And when his favorite team won, the positive effect on his mood was muted and lasted for a short period of time.

This theory best describes why I had no desire to watch the game last night.  I've seen more than my fair share of cupcake games over the past thirty years, and the bloom has long been off of the rose.  The blowouts aren't that exciting...and the losses/close calls stay with me sometimes for days.  I enjoyed being at the CMU game, but the Akron game negatively affected me more than the CMU game positively affected me.

Any thoughts on this?  Are the lows sometimes lower than the highs are high for you?  Have you ever thought about giving up being a Michigan fan or trying to lessen your passion for the teams, so as to reduce the emotional toll the teams' ups and downs have on you?

I would request that if you don't have a constructive comment to refrain from commenting.  Please keep the snark and witty negative responses to yourself.



September 22nd, 2013 at 11:34 AM ^

The high of a big win (ex: winning UTL/2, beating Ohio, etc) are of a higher magnitude for me than the low of an awful loss. I find that after a game ends, if it didn't go the way I wanted, I can move on with my life pretty quickly. Too much stuff to do in real life to get bogged down by sporting mishaps.

BOX House

September 22nd, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

It's hard for me to compare the lows to the highs, because in my mind 1997 was the high of all highs. I was only 9 years old then, so it's difficult to say if it would be similar now. In the end, though, I think that's what fandom comes down to: you suffer through the years in anticipation of that one glorious season. And when it comes, it is that much more special.


September 22nd, 2013 at 11:40 AM ^

It is a weird way to measure it, but I spend a lot more time after losses or nailbiter wins going through numbers and rewatching film than I do after more lopsided wins or wins which are relatively easy. I express my frustration in analysis, so it is fair to say that games like, say, last night will prey on me for a few days, whereas I would be enjoying going into a bye far more if we had won handily. 


September 22nd, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

... As a cognitive dissonance problem. Games like this are frustrating because reality does not match my expectations. I expect Michigan to easily handle uconn. When that doesn't happen, I don't know what to do. In time, you adjust your expectations so they are a better reflection of the likely reality, however difficult it is to predict. On so many levels the game sucked. But as a competitive event, it was actually closely fought and entertaining. Problem is, that's not what I expected, even if that is the point of sports.


September 22nd, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

In a weird way, games like Akron and UConn are a blessing for me and my stress levels. I know now that I won't spend hours a week reading every article I can find on Michigan football and I won't work myself into a state of delerium by Saturday gametime.




September 22nd, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

Happiness or sadness derives from results as compared to expectations.  If you were expecting your team to go 5-7 and they went to a bowl instead you'll be happy.  If you expected them to win the conference and go to a BCS game, and they win the conference and lose a BCS game, you'll probably be fairly neutral.

For fans of teams that have perennial high expectations (Michigan football, Red Wings hockey, Lakers basketball, Yankees baseball...) often there is the possibility of crushing failure but no offsetting chance for soaring victory.  When's the last time Michigan won a "stunning upset"?  Hard to do when you're favored or at least even money in almost every game you play.  A lot of games are emotional no-win scenarios for us.  Games we're supposed to win.  If we lose, we're crushed.  If we win by a little, we're stressed.  If we win by a lot it's mildly pleasing, but mostly we just did what we were supposed to do.

So, for me at least, I would say the lows do indeed outweigh the highs.  Ask me again if we knock off an undefeated Ohio State at the end of the year and maybe I'll give you a different answer, I guess.


September 22nd, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

This says it exactly right. I was indoctrinated into Michigan fandom in the early 70s. My dad and my uncle were particularly egregious examples of entitled fans – they expected that Michigan should win every game because they are Michigan, and any loss is an upending of the universal order of existence. I consciously try to avoid their attitude. I almost always fail.

In recent years, any attempt to back away from Michigan obsessiveness has been completely thwarted by Mgoblog. Thanks to the volume of content here, I devote more time and emotional energy to Michigan than ever. The good news is that so much here is so high quality that I enjoy it enough to offset some of the gloom and doom.


September 23rd, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

I meant in football.

Basketball is an entirely different mindset for us right now because the team was bad for so long that we established failing to even make the NCAA tournement as our baseline expectation.  Now that we're making tournement runs it seems awesome... but if we maintain the success we had last year, soon enough we'll be like Duke or MSU basketball fans (except without the rioting, hopefully), and losses in the Final Four (or god forbid, the Elite Eight) will make us grumble and pine for the days when we made it to the championship. 


September 22nd, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

I guess I remember the lows more vividly but I'd have to say I enjoy the highs more than I hated the lows. For example....

I remember the Rose Bowl screw jobs by the refs in the 70's a lot more than the wins in the 80's.

I remember the 1973 & 74 OSU games a lot more than the win in 1976.

I remember Chris Weber's time out a lot more than Rumeal hitting both ends of the one-and-one


September 22nd, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

The great thing about sports is there's always next season.  Even if this season deteriorates into a nuclear disaster (which having watched enough seasons of Michigan football I'm pretty confident that won't happen), you can at least be comforted in knowing that we should (hopefully) be better next year after all these young players get some valuable game experience.

Nosce Te Ipsum

September 22nd, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

For the Michigan fans that I am exposed to it seems as though a win offers a sigh of relief as to not have to experience days of anguish after a loss. Everyone needs an outlet of some sorts. In our society sports seem to be the most prevalent of the bunch. It also enables people to be able to complain about something, even though the ones who complain the most are the ones who have real life problems they don't feel comfortable expressing, so they can get out their frustration of their real life in a more appropriate arena. It just sounds like a bunch of babies crying to me, though.


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:05 PM ^

It's more about the journey for me than the end result. Just enjoy the ride and appreciate every Michigan Football experience you have. We may never win the National Championship but that doesn't mean our lifetime of fandom was a waste. My lows don't get to low and they don't last much longer my drive home after the game. I am guilty of my highs spiraling into ridiculous undefeated dreams. It's a lot of fun though.


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:07 PM ^

Was worse than the high of beating any team en route to the Finals. But the journey to the championship game was worth it.

With football, I'm used to losing a few games a year. As long as we take care of business and beat state, notre dame, and the buckeyes I'm generally pretty content. That hasnt happened in a long time.


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

The highs definitely last a lot longer. 

When we win a big game, bowl, or title, I'm happy for days at a time.

When we lose, pretty much regardless of the outcome, I'm over it in an hour or two.


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:14 PM ^

I saw my first game in 1960.  I have started so many years with optimism, only to see "inexplicable" losses as the season progressed.  The losses used to crush me.  Now, it's just something else that I've already experienced many times before.

Now, I expect 9-3 and a 50-50 chance in the bowl game depending on opponent.  Anything more, such as a Big Ten Championship Game berth, is "bonus points."  Anything less means trying not to be affected by all of the "Michigan fans" who want to fire various coaches.


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

Sports like anything else in life will be processed by the observer/participant as he generally processes events.  An optimistic-upbeat person will enjoy the highs more than the lows and be hopeful for future events.  A pessimist will mull around in the what could have beens and generally worry about what is about to go wrong.  As a pessimist, I tend to most vividly remember the worst (Appy State), bitch about what is currently wrong (O-line, D-line, Gardner turnover machine), and worry about the future (OMG are we going to lose recruits now because we cant blowout shit teams). 


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

Anyone who has done coke or meth or heroin knows the answer to this question. For those who haven't, allow me to explain.

Sports teams you are fanatic about are a lot like addictive drugs. It's not about how high the highs actually are, it's about how high your brain tells you they are when they aren't there. The highs are almost never as high as you wanted it to be, or if they are, they don't last nearly as long as they should. No matter how awesome one game is, if the next game isn't just as awesome, you're letdown, and when the lows happen, you treat loved ones poorly as a result (which you later regret).

The similarities go on.


September 22nd, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

Never been a big drug user but I guess sex would be the best parallel for me here.  No matter how bad you wanted the girl, the fantasy is almost always better than the reality.  Don't get me wrong, the "conquest" and relations are great, but it seems that what you dream it will be like is almost always better than the actual activity.  I guess this is why porn is so big.  However, I am not an asshole to family and friends after meh sexual experiences.


September 22nd, 2013 at 5:10 PM ^

but have often thought this. When I am on mgoblog in the summer months, I often feel like an alcoholic rummaging through the medicine chest for anything with alcohol in it...there are no games so I'm looking for anything that can approximate the good feelings that they can generate when they are on. Nothing comes close...


September 22nd, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

When I was a kid and Michigan suffered a rare loss I would literally wear a black armband for a couple of days. Now when we lose I move on to the next activity pretty quickly albeit with a disproportionately crappy attitude.

Yes, losing hurts much worse than winning feels good although not as much as when I was 10.


September 22nd, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

I find that the gestalt of being at a game is enough of a great experience (stadium, other fans, band, etc.) that it outweighs a bad game or loss. By the time I get home, I'm over it.

And a win in the stadium is more fun, for some reason. Maybe it's being with 115,000 other fans, cheering, etc. Even walking out of the stadium with the other fans, talking about the game, being in Ann Arbor, etc., seems to make a difference after a win or a loss.

But watching a bad game or loss on TV lingers for days, and a win seems more like a confirmation of a belief than something to be joyful about.

While it's a lot less hassle to turn on the TV than to go to a game, there's something to be said for how being at the game affects the emotions.

It's worth considering, in any case.


September 22nd, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

fandom to having to take a dump. When you have a sports "low" its terrible feeling of having to let one loose NOW but knowing you can't. The high, however, is like the feeling I get for minutes after I finally crap; its the pleasure that is euphoric from NOT feeling the pain anymore. 


September 22nd, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

The key is to not tie your worth as a human being to the performance of a sports team, I think. I feel awful for the players when they lose, but it doesn't change how I go about my business after the initial grumpiness.

I try to keep reminders of the highs, because if you forget about those, what's the point of watching in the first place?


September 22nd, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

I share the OP's pain.....the last two weekends have been dreadful.  What bothers me the most is after having dealt with the RichRod years and thinking the pain was behind us, this team, in spite of being 4-0, seems disappointing.  In year three of the Hoke era, I was expecting something more out of Devin.

I appreciate that the youth movement, particularly on the O-line, has its problems, but with the level of talent that we, in theory at least, are recruiting, I would have thought that we are further along.  It is not a sin to lose to a good team, but to barely beat Akron?  Connecticut?

No way.


September 22nd, 2013 at 2:01 PM ^

In that, I mean, on one hand, you claim to be a fan who is so negatively impacted by a loss, that it can hound you for days and on the other hand, you didn't mind missing a game that you thought would be an
Easy win against what you call a "cupcake". Then, you go on to say that the emotional high of a big win only lasts a short time. Forgive me, but I'm not so sure if you're a die hard fan, or just a hyper-critical person who is so arrogant that you think you are entitled to "win" so much that you don't even need to watch. To me, you're the M fan that I can't stand listening to before, during, or after a game. I feel like you fail to realize that you have ZERO impact on a game, this team or this sport in general, and you somehow define yourself (self admittedly) by the results of a bunch of kids who play for eachother, not for you. Perhaps you need a new hobby?


September 22nd, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

I still give the games the power to lift me up but I no longer give them the power to take me low. I watch the games now completely detached emotionally until they do something good. When they are struggling or being outperformed I look for signs that they really want it. If they don't realy want it, I am able to move on immediately. My observation is that this team has a ton of potential. They really want it.

They're a headcase, though. Hopefully, Hoke figures out how to light the fire.

snarling wolverine

September 22nd, 2013 at 2:39 PM ^

Now I would say yes, but when I was a teenager I probably would have disagreed.  The '93 Final Four (when I was in middle school) cut me like a knife, and then when C-Webb went pro, breaking up the Fab Five that didn't help.  I don't know if I've had a high quite as high as that one was low.  The '97 PSU football game was probably the best I've ever felt about Michigan football, but I don't know if it affected me quite as much.

Now I can get over losses more easily.  I was a little bummed about the Louisville loss, especially after we had that 12-point lead, but it definitely didn't hit me anywhere near as hard as the '93 one did, and the joy of getting that far outweighed it easily.



September 22nd, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

It's all a matter of perspective.  When I was in high school (mid to late 70s) one of my older brother's friends said something that made me examine how I reacted after games, especially losses.  It was at a New Year's Eve party and he said something to the effect that he couldn't wait to see the Michigan fans crying after another bowl game loss.  Yes, it was a douchey thing to say, and he wasn't talking about me specifically (or anyone I knew), but it did make me think about the importance of a win or a loss in the scheme of things.

Bando Calrissian

September 22nd, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

Last night, I found myself switching over to the Tigers game without even thinking twice about it. There was a long time when I wouldn't even think of doing anything but isolating myself to a Michigan Football tunnel-vision. After a lifetime as a Michigan fan and four years of being a student, I'm finding myself a bit worn out. It's true, the highs just aren't as high for me anymore, and the Rodriguez era broke me of getting hopelessly despondent after a loss. It's becoming just a game for me. And I think that's OK.