By Jeffrey Newholm
Sports fans hear many insults. But some are universal: “fair weathered fan” and “bandwagon fan”. Anything but that! That’s a sure way to get made fun of at Bucks games (or anywhere, really). But I’m rather suspicious by the outpouring of support for the 2018 Brewers playoffs. Funny how the Brewers had half as many fans in the 73-89 2016 season. Not to mention, most signs were from completely unrelated businesses. Perhaps Wisconsin’s forgettable 49-20 blowout of struggling Illinois encapsulates just how fickle fans can be. Everybody loves a winner, right? Sadly it’s not so simple.
An Odd Problem
Neil Hayes’ When The Game Stands Tall details a high school football team that won 151 games in a row. Wow, they must have a lot of fans! At one point the school holds a lame pep rally for a virtual national championship game. The school became jacked! Actually, the students hardly noticed. Winning was so common, it went as unnoticed as wall paint colors. As for the Packers, the Facebook and Google of Wisconsin sports, even football fanatics get bored. A 2013 playoff game sold out only from sponsors buying tickets. Even longtime newspaper scout Bob McGinn once bemoaned how the Lambeau legion is a bit satiated with Favre and Rodger’s 20-year success. And Saturday’s yawner in Camp Randell highlights fan disinterest beautifully.
Granted, UW students can be excused as the weather was far from fair. A freak October snow flurry rocked Madison along with a rather uncomfortable breeze and chill. But don’t fans love a big blowout? Who wants to bite fingernails in a two-minute drive or bases loaded ninth? And Wisconsin, despite two bummer losses, is still in command of the division and Rose Bowl Big Ten play-in game. But the stands were only half full, despite an official announced attendance of 79,736. Even worse, students filed out early, effectively wasting student loan money wasted on tickets. How can the team be blamed for winning too much?
Unfortunately, extreme happiness in sports, as in life, seems paradoxically impossible. UConn coach Geno Auriemma even argued his Huskies need to lose more. More? 99% of coaches want to lose less! But true fans, like Aaron Rodgers, block out distraction and noise. A true fan cheers frenetically for his or her team. And sensibly, the better the team, the louder the cheer! Because true fans are always glad to jump around for every coveted FIRST DOWN- and the more the better!