Make no mistake about it: I am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. Even though I am supposed to be part of the “media” (I guess), I don’t hide the fact that I eat, sleep, and breath Dallas Cowboys. Even though this site is dedicated to objective film study and statistical analysis, I don’t disguise myself as a completely non-biased sports writer (although I do aim for that). And even though I have a duty to supply you with the best, most unique Cowboys-related material in a timely manner, sometimes, at times like this, I simply don’t feel like it.
When I woke up this morning (and on all mornings following a loss like this one), I wasn’t in a particularly buoyant mood. Actually, I felt like crap. I was feeling sorry for myself. Is it peculiar for a grown man to let a game affect his life to such an immense degree? You bet. Will I ever let it stop? No way in hell.
See, that’s exactly what being a football fan is about–not just the thrill of victory, but also the despair of defeat, and the loyalty that binds, even necessitates the two. Everyone wants to be there when times are good. Everyone is a fan in the playoffs. But who is going to stand by their team during the rough times? Who is going to support their Dallas Cowboys now that they are 0-2? Because to sufficiently enjoy the good times, you have to be there for the bad.
Trust me with all of your heart, fellow Cowboys fans, when I say the sweetness of future victory will be greatest for those of you who are most loyal right now. Those who are suffering. . .rejoice in knowing you will feel the greatest triumph when your Dallas Cowboys rebound. Whether it takes a game or five seasons, continue to be loyal. Embrace these moments of despair. Remember what this feels like.
The great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the first Western thinkers to posit the complementary nature of “opposite” values. Love and hate, for example, are not diametrically opposed, but rather two forms of the same emotion. They complement one another; even become one another; and certainly necessitate one another. What is love without hate? It’s nothing. Its existence is meaningless.
Similarly, what is the joy of victory without the anguish of defeat? There is none. Why do you surmise Chicago Cubs fans are some of the most loyal, die-hard fans of any team in sports, yet their club has not won a World Series in, like, a century? Can you imagine the joy they will feel when the Cubbies finally win a championship?
Now, I’m not at all claiming you should become accustomed to losing. I am one of the most competitive people I know and I want to win at all times. Winning, and the drive to become a champion, is what fuels not only athletes, but people in all walks of life. As Coach Boone said in Remember the Titans, “I’m a winner. I’m going to win.”
Let’s not forget, though, that being a winner isn’t about always winning, but rather reacting positively to defeat. The best sports teams, the best football players, even the best human beings, all have two things in common. First, they all get knocked down. They get beat, punched in the mouth, dealt a bad hand, and so on. But the second thing they all have in common is what makes them winners: they get back up. They respond positively to adversity, arising from the gloom even stronger than before they entered.
In short, winners are at their best when everything else is at its worst. The existential psychologist Rollo May once wrote:
What is courage? This courage will not be the opposite of despair. We shall often be faced with despair, as indeed every sensitive person has been during the last several decades in this country. Courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.
Many people think it is silly to label a bad stretch by your favorite sports teams as a time of “despair,” but I don’t. I know how you are feeling, and I am right here with you.
But now is not the time to feel sorry for ourselves. Now is the time to embrace and remember our feelings, but overcome them. We need to act as we want the players to act. Why should we expect them to overcome adversity if we ourselves are so quick to give into the tribulations of the current times, curling into the fetal position (metaphorically and literally, for some) and abandoning all loyalty in an attempt to find a scapegoat for what has gone wrong?
Instead, we need to be loyal now more than ever. Support your Dallas Cowboys with everything you have inside of you. Be there during the lowest of lows, because it will make the highs that much sweeter.
Be the best fan you can be.
Be a winner.
To have no loyalty is to have no dignity, and in the end, no manhood.
– P.T. Forsyth