Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grantland: On game seven, what it means to be a sports fan, and how Those Games ruin everything

There’s a secret that Toronto fans aren’t supposed to talk about, but after what happened Monday night, I don’t care about anything anymore, so here it is: Heading into Game 7 against the Boston Bruins, Leafs fans were OK with losing.

Not "OK" as in we wouldn't care. Leafs fans wanted a win, were hoping for a win, and — in some cases — may even have talked ourselves into expecting a win. And we were ready for the three hours of agony we knew were coming. A Game 7 in the NHL playoffs is pure torture, and Leaf supporters were feeling that every bit as much as fans of the Bruins.

But there was an insurance policy, because the 2013 Leafs season was already a success. A team that hadn’t made the playoffs in seven years and was expected to miss them yet again had ended the drought. Young players who’d been written off as busts suddenly emerged. A franchise that floundered for a decade had finally found an identity. And though they were written off after falling behind three games to one in a series against a team that had spent the last few years kicking sand in their faces, the Leafs clawed back with a pair of gutsy wins to force a deciding game.

A loss would sting for a while, sure. But it couldn’t really hurt, not the way big losses are supposed to. It couldn’t leave a scar, whether it came in a blowout or sudden death or somewhere in between.

Unless it turned out to be one of Those Games.

>> Read the full post at Grantland


  1. Perfect summary of what it is like to have to go through this kind of loss.

    Sorry you had to be part of the unlucky fanbase to hit a sports low point like that last night.

  2. Wide Right, No Goal, Forward Pass, No Goal 2. Welcome to Buffalo!May 14, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Look on the brightside while eating your gallons of ice cream. At least the Leafs have won a Cup.

  3. Hey, at least you're not a old time Caps fan. Lost a 5 game series up 2-0. Easter Epic. Blowing 3-1 series leads to Pittsburgh. Halak. 2-5 when up in a series 2-0. Only two trips to the third round. Many crushing losses in home game 7s.

  4. Another option is that you could try not to live vicariously through other peoples accomplishments (and evidently failures) and instead try to do something yourself. Just a thought.

    1. ... said the Anonymous internet commenter to the internationally syndicated columnist.

    2. Wide right, No goal, Forward pass, No goal 2, Welcome to Buffalo!May 17, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      In DGB defense, so is Larry Brooks!

  5. As a Bruins fan, I feel your pain. I remember the night they lost in Game 7 to the flyers like it was yesterday.

    As much as I hate the leafs, they'll learn and grow from this. They'll know which pieces need to go and where to improve. Maybe not next year, but soon enough they'll make a deep run.

  6. Wide right, No goal, Forward pass, No goal 2, Welcome to Buffalo!May 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I can vouch that it is much easier to live vicariously thru others' failures exclusively. All true Sabres and Bills fans (and Leafs fans too, I assume) don't actively cheer for the home team but root for bad things to happen to teams who've beat us in the past, like any sports team that has or will ever exist in or around New York state (except the Amerks), the Leafs, Bruins, Canadiens, Senators, Miami Dolphins, the......etc. etc.
    And death to the the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Flyers, and Dallas Stars.

  7. I've always wondered, is there someone out there born in the early 80s in Erie, PA who grew up rooting for an assortment of teams from each of the 3 surrounding cities, and ended up with the misfortune of being a fan of The Pittsburgh Pirates, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Buffalo Sabres?
    If that person does exist they have every right to claim to be the most tortured sports fan in the universe.