Even in a baseball season as disappointing as this one, there is still that “feeling” I get when I’m driving to the park, turning on the television, or streaming the radio broadcast. What IS that feeling? Anticipation, dread, excitement, nervousness? Probably all of the above. It is physical even, palpable. I can feel it in my stomach.
Dare I say it is the mind-boggling feeling of hope? Despite the overwhelming chances that this White Sox game will be just another debacle, many of us always seem to still feel that glimmer of hope. So why after years and decades of fandom that is often filled with angst, do we even still retain that sense of hope? It is the die-hard in us.
When I say “die-hard,” what does that even mean? I think there are a litany of characteristics that define a die-hard White Sox fan.
Most of us did not actually choose to become a White Sox fan, right? It was chosen for us, often by our family. We were born into it. It is almost a part of the fabric of our existence and genetic code. My poor son didn’t even have a chance of being any other type of fan. His room was decorated from top to bottom with White Sox stuff before he could even talk. He had a 2005 World Series baseball in his incubator bed in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit when he was born. Us die-hards just have the need to drag other people we care about into our shared misery AND occasional joy.
We also typically spend way too much money on being a fan. We purchase tickets to games and merchandise to represent our team. We fund experiences that support our passion for the Sox, like attending SoxFest or vacationing at Camelback Ranch for spring training. Sometimes we spend way more money than our budget even allows, and often to the chagrin of our partners who love us despite our die-hard spending habits. (I absolutely needed that seat from Old Comiskey Park in my collection!)
Furthermore, we sacrifice our time. We don’t watch all the cool, new streaming series so that we can chat at the water cooler with our co-workers about the episode that dropped last night. Nope. Instead, we hunker down in our woman/man caves to watch the game. And the pregame. And the postgame.
Additionally, for a lot of us, we have strong emotional connections with our fandom to family and other important people in our lives. With some of those relationships, the person or persons may have passed away and we can no longer share that fandom with them. However, it’s the memories of special times shared that continues to tie us together to our South Siders.
When something is that deeply woven into so many parts of our life, it makes sense that we want it to succeed. We’ve invested, often lifelong, into the team/players that we love. Like most other significant things in our lives that we’ve invested in (jobs, family, friends, home) we value it in a compelling way. We want it and desire it to succeed.
Our fandom and role as die-hard White Sox fans is a true investment. Once the team has been mathematically eliminated, our hope for the current season may be lost, but it doesn’t take us long to conjure up that hope again for next season. We might examine the minor leagues looking for the next superstar or speculate what trades might happen in the offseason. The spark is there, and so is the hope ... the cycle begins, again.
And don’t even bother trying to leave, or quit the team. It won’t work.
You’re fooling yourself. You’ll be back. It’s a sickness that we just can’t get over.
Regardless of what happens here at the end of 2022, we’ll do it all AGAIN in 2023!