Edit Desk: I love my disappointing team


Brian Reiff

Answering the question inevitably leads to one of three outcomes.

I’m either laughed at, asked if I’m joking or — admittedly less frequently than the other two — checked for brain damage.

But that’s just what happens when you ask a New York Jets fan what their favorite team is.

Of course, the Jets aren’t the only team that elicit that kind of reaction — there are countless others out there that make their fans cover their heads with paper bags in shame. Being a fan of one of them can be difficult when wins are hard to come by, but in the end, it is much more rewarding than always supporting the front-runner.

The Jets haven’t been good for a long time now. Playing in a division with what is consistently the best team in the NFL, the New England Patriots, certainly doesn’t do them any favors. But the bottom line is they just haven’t played well.

With exactly seven postseason wins in the past 30 seasons, it’s hard to find many positives as a fan. There’s always the statistic I fall back on: the Jets are one of just four teams with a perfect winning percentage in Super Bowl history, but even that feels hollow with the Jets’ sole league title coming in Super Bowl III nearly 30 years before I was even born.

When someone tells me how awful my team is, I end up agreeing more often than not.

However, that doesn’t stop me from being a fan — much to the chagrin of my father, a lifelong New York Giants supporter. Rooting for a team means sticking with it through the challenges, not changing your allegiance because another team assembled a group of star players likely to bring it success.

This was easily seen in the NBA, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined together on the Miami Heat for the 2010-11 season. The team gained a substantial number of fans because of its unprecedented star power and the championships that were all but inevitable according to James. The fact that the team held a welcome party to introduce the new players shows what kind of success was expected.

But many of the team’s new fans were just there to ride in its coattails. If your friend born and raised in New Jersey told you they’d been a Heat fan all their life, you could be sure they actually meant since the announcement of James’ signing.

It will never make sense to me how anyone can get satisfaction from choosing to root for the best team every year.

Sure, your team won, but where was the struggle to make it all worthwhile? If you never suffered through the bad, how can the good be anything other than normal? When the good is normal, all the exhilaration of success is gone.

By sticking with one team, you become attached. Sure, I might make fun of the Jets as much as the next person — they just make it so easy — but deep down I will always want them to do well. When they don’t, it has a real effect on me.

I feel upset. I feel demoralized. I feel like the world is dark and full of terrors.

When they win though, all of that is reversed. The emotional boost that follows my teams’ success makes me feel like all of the suffering was worth it.

Even better than that is being part of a fandom I can share with others. Whenever I see or meet other Jets fans, I know they’ve experienced all of the same emotions I have. Watching games with other Jets fans makes the losses less bitter and the wins sweeter because I know I endured with someone who cares as deeply about the team as I do. That’s not something that can be felt when always rooting for the best team.

When the Jets finally do finally win their next Super Bowl, I’ll be there to celebrate with the rest of the loyal fans.

And I know for sure there will be no other feeling quite like it.

Brian Reiff, ’17, is the deputy sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected].

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