Jock Talk: Lovable Losers

Jesse Heussner ’11
Features Editor

Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro were in the middle of a match for the ages.

The young, charismatic 20 year old had just taken the best player to ever live to a fifth set at the US Open, the first time an Open final had gone the distance in ten years. I was watching with my dad and our dog only to hear my dad complain about the upcoming fifth set.

“I can’t watch this anymore,” he said. “Roger is going to lose.”

I ignored the comment–myself too entrenched in the match–only to see the TV screen turn black a second later.

“I’m serious,” my dad said, who abruptly turned the TV back on to the ever-exciting NBC news. “I’m not watching this. If you want to watch, go upstairs.”

Without a word, I went upstairs, saving a rebuttal for later, and watched Del Potro pull off a 6-2 fifth set win, a monumental upset.

I rushed downstairs during the final ceremonies to rub it in, grabbed the remote, and put on Del Potro’s victory speech. And I swear, my dad was about to pull a Kanye at the VMA’s: “Yo Juan, I’m happy for you and Imma let you finish, but Roger’s the best of all-time!”

He was furious. And me? Well, I was just happy to see Federer lose.

My point with all of this: rooting for a loser is far more fulfilling than rooting for a life-long winner. I can speak from personal experience. I’m a Knicks, Jets, and Yankees fan. I was eight the last time the Knicks won a playoff game. I have never witnessed a Jets super bowl appearance. On the other hand, I’ve been alive for four Yankees World Series wins and despite this, my allegiance as a sports fan mainly lies with the Knicks and Jets.

I’ve said many times that I’d rather see the Knicks in the playoffs than the Yankees in a World Series. And really, I don’t think it’s because of the sport. The Knicks, like the Jets, are just lovable losers.

For every embarrassment that affects these teams, from Isiah Thomas to Stephon Marbury to Eddy Curry to Brett Favre, there is a unique, loyal group of fans ready to explode with joy whenever there is an ounce of hope around the corner.

Lovable losers. Some of the things these teams do are laughable, but it’s fun. After witnessing the Knicks lose a game to the Celtics 104-59 two years ago, the amount of energy the crowd had when the Knicks beat the Celtics last year was ridiculous, even if they were 10 games up in the standings. The funny thing? The day after this potential season turning win, the Knicks went on to lose to the 3-23 Oklahoma City Thunder, the worst team in the NBA.

The Jets are almost as frustrating to watch. Last year, all was supposed to be good. The Jets were 8-3 and had just beaten the Patriots on the road and the undefeated Titans at home. They had Brett Favre, a coach whose last name was “Mangenius,” and more pro-bowlers than any other team in the NFL. Yet, in typical Jets fashion, they blew a division lead, lost to the terrible Seahawks and Niners, and missed the playoffs in a span of five weeks.

And this year? The Jets are 3-1 with an equally exciting quarterback, a new coach who has been dubbed as a mastermind and a defense that is considered one of the best in the NFL. While this may sound eerily similar to last year, my excitement for the Jets remains just as high as or even higher than last year.

Why? When your team loses so consistently, any positive moment has to be cherished so much more. I can’t even imagine what I would feel like if the Jets won the super bowl or if the Knicks won the NBA title. I do, however, know what it feels like to be a Yankee fan after a title win. Obviously it feels great, but instead of utter joy, a Yankees fans thought process is more like this:

First: “OMG, we won, OMG OMG”

Second: “At least we’re not Met fans. Tony Bernazard for the win!”

Third: “Weren’t we supposed to win this anyway?”

Look, I’m not saying that it’s bad to root for a winner (if that were the case, I would immediately become a Met fan), just don’t be that guy who is a Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, New York Yankees, New England Patriots, and Los Angeles Lakers homer all in one. Pick a loser, a lovable one, and hang with them. Trust me, it’s fun.