More Than "Just a Game"

John Cimasko shares his personal perspectives and revelations about how overwhelming passion for a team can actually take the fun out of being a fan.

For as long as I can remember I have always been fond of saying that football is more than just a game, and the Colts are so much more than just a football team. I like to say that; those simple words are quite telling. It gives people a true sense of who I am, what I am about.

The emotional investment that I started paying some four decades ago has taken its toll. To be sure, there have been dividends; tremendous moments of joy, of happiness, bathing in the glory of a team victory, feeling that my unconditional loyalty has somehow allowed me to share in the celebration. I believe that my loyalty has earned me that right.

But by the same token, this loyalty, this emotional investment that I willingly pay on a seasonal (if not daily) basis has indeed taken its toll. The losses have hurt too much. I have let them take the fun out of being a fan. They haunt me for too long, lingering like some dark cloud, following me around all day on Monday, killing my spirit. Heck, I don't even enjoy the game all that much until I am certain that our team is going to win. That's fun? There has to be a better way.

After last year's playoff exit against the evil Patriots, I was livid. I was enraged. I was disappointed, disgusted, disenchanted, disillusioned and bitter; very bitter; extremely bitter.

Did I mention that I was feeling a little bitter?

I didn't like carrying this anger and bitterness with me after a couple of days, and finally made the decision that this was going to change. I decided that I needed to take a step back and gain some perspective. I needed to learn that the sun did come up on Monday morning. I needed to realize that having this dark cloud linger, carrying this ugly baggage around, did not make me a better fan; it just made me less of the person that I wanted to be.

As with most other changes, recognition was the key. I was already there. I had grown tired of this behavior, knew it had to change, knew that it was no fun.

It was supposed to be fun. It had to become just that.

We had a mental health professional join us on our Sunday evening show a couple of weeks after that playoff loss. I knew a number of fans who, just like me, took the losses way too hard, and I wanted to gain some insight from this therapist. I discovered that it was, after all, about gaining perspective, about recognition, about the realization that it was just a game, that life did go on, that there were plenty of more games to be played, plenty of more perfect autumn afternoons to watch our beloved Colts. And the sun always did come up on Monday morning.

And if you opened your eyes and sat up, it was a good day, no matter what happened on a football field a day earlier. My old high school football coach was fond of saying that. He was right.

Does this make me any less of a fan? No, actually it makes me a better fan.

I will still talk Colts football with you until you grow tired of it. I will still get that same feeling each and every time that I walk into the dome. I will still get that sense of my history every time I walk the streets of Baltimore, looking for the ghosts from my childhood. My ears will always perk up whenever someone mentions Unitas, Manning, Berry, Harrison, Moore, James, or any of the other names that mean so much to me. Names that have been, and still are a large part of who I am; names that I carry with me; names that I will admit, are, and always will be magical to me.

The emotional investment is still there. It is way too late for me to change that. And football is more than "just a game." And anyone who knows me will tell you that the Colts are so much more than just a football team to me.

It was important to me that I became a good fan. It's supposed to be fun.

And now it is.

Email me at cima19@aol.com. I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and concerns.

You can listen to Jersey Johnny talk about the Colts and sports from 6-8 pm Sunday nights. Click this link to his page at WIBC and bookmark it as you can listen to his broadcast through WIBC's website.


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