Why am I a sports fan?

(Divorce: A Love Story, is now available. Did I mention it’s only $2.99 and that you can’t afford *not* to buy it?!)

Saturday’s debacle in Ann Arbor raised anew all the relevant mental health questions as they pertain to sports fandom. Michigan did *not* out play Michigan State. The Spartans had twenty first downs to Michigan’s ten and outgained the Wolverines by 150 yards. Michigan had an enormous advantage in the return game and on special teams generally (until the final play, obviously), which negated State’s offensive advantage and made it an even match up. So, in terms of how the game was played for 58-plus minutes,  I didn’t think my alma mater “should” win. But as a result of a final, great defensive series against State and its highly rated quarterback, Connor Cook, we were in a position to win. And then, of course, disaster struck.

For those of you who are old enough to remember the Fumble (I know Eagles fans have a different name for it), Saturday’s catastrophe brought back harrowing memories.

A game 100% in hand, save for the execution of a single, simple play, a botched exchange, a helplessly flailing ball handler, an enemy player racing untouched to the end zone. That earlier nightmare, in the Meadowlands in 1978, did have a salutary consequence. It prompted the cleaning house of the then woeful Giants’ organization and the eventual league-imposed installation of General Manager, George Young, who helped turn the franchise around, beginning a run of very successful football over the next three or so decades that has included four Super Bowl titles.

Michigan doesn’t need to clean house, obviously. They have a great coach, whose prowess has had the ironic effect of making Saturday’s loss more painful than Michigan fans had any right to expect this year, because the team is so far ahead of schedule that the game was much more consequential than any we expected to play in 2015.

OK, so that’s a glass half-full way of thinking about what transpired this weekend. It’s either that, or lapse into self-pity that twice, in a single lifetime, I’ve been subjected to watching one of my teams lose in such historic fashion.

 

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