If or when the Miami Dolphins defeat the E.J. Manuel-less Buffalo Bills early Sunday morning, the San Diego Chargers will be eliminated from playoff (and, therefore, Super Bowl) contention before their own game kicks off. It's sad to see the season reach its conclusion without even a chance of achieving the ultimate goal, a Super Bowl title, but that may be reality before the clock strikes one this Sunday.
Rather than look back (again) and point out the reasons the Chargers are where they are - hoping and praying for four games outside their control to all break their way - I want to instead focus on an often-broached, never thoroughly analyzed, heated topic: rooting for your team to lose.
I bring this up because should the Miami Dolphins defeat the Buffalo Bills in the morning, and the Chargers Super Bowl odds reduce to exactly 0% in the 2013/14 season, I will be rooting for the Chargers to lose.
I imagine there are many of you reading this who will follow suit and also many of you disgusted that a self-described die-hard would consider rooting against his favorite football team. If you're a member of the latter, I'm not aiming to get you to join the former; I just hope this article allows you to appreciate the merits of the former.
A subject this perverse and complex requires a lengthy article in order to properly develop the thought that goes into rooting against your favorite team. So I've got three of them for you: the first is an examination of the term "fan" and a rebuttal of several anti-tanking arguments; the second examines what the Chargers have to gain in the NFL Draft through losing; and the third examines how the Chargers can tastefully lose (ie. "protect Philip").
Different people watch sports and root for teams for different reasons. This is a given, and is a pretty central axiom for the rest of the article. Aside from simply watching to see their team win, people watch sports and root in order to be entertained; to enjoy the athletic spectacle; to be inspired to achieve excellence and/or their own dreams; to serve as a healthy alternative to other damaging or counterproductive behaviors; and, for some, to serve as a welcome distraction from life's problems.
But instead of recognizing this reality, and examining each individual's motives before heaping sweeping, damning conclusions, I constantly see certain segments of fans telling other segments they're a bad fan if they root for their team to lose in an individual game.
This leads me to the main difference between fans who are rooting for a loss versus those rooting for a victory...
Individual games versus Super Bowl aspirations
My definition of "fan"
A response to the naysayers
Dismissing the morality argument
"I’m 40 years old going on 65. God knows what I’ll feel like when I’m actually 65 years old." - former Chargers offensive tackle, Roman Oben
Dismissing the 'Defeatists'
The Super Bowl cannot be the only goal of a fan. You will drive yourself out of your mind if that's all you care about because most teams don't win the thing.
We are trained, as Americans, to only want first place or a title, and to think that everything else is shit. But keeping to that makes the fan experience even more miserable than it already is. There has to be some pleasure in week-to-week victories, even if they don't propel you to the ultimate goal.