April 02 2014 09:58AM
Hi, I'm Rex Libris. You may remember me from such articles as Calgarian Nights:1001 steps to rebuild your franchise and Jay Feaster: Communist Threat from Within! I’ve been asked to speak to you today about something I'm sure you're all worried about: how to cheer for a bad sports team.
If you're like me you've probably spent time recently cheering for a bad sports team, watching them insult the game with their very presence and humiliate your once-proud metropolis as they plumb the depths of ineptitude through what seems like a soul-crushingly eternal exercise in futility.
You've tried to stay loyal, and have even begun to bolster your flagging fandom by taking a greater interest in farm teams, drafted prospects, development coaches, perhaps you've even strayed so far as to explore adopting an NCAA or USHL team.
But be warned, the perils of cheering for a bad team are almost incalculable. Here’s one:
1. Advanced Analytics
There are those who have forsaken common decency and good Canadian values to lead lives of dissolute turpitude becoming slavish devotees to the cruel mistress that is Advanced Analytics and her streetwise data-pushers.
These are dark and dangerous places that can lead to a life of debauchery, delinquency and statistical regression theory. Many young men have given up on the traditional, good clean fun of yelling rambling obscenities at players from the stands based on vague impressions formed in an alcoholic fog. These fine young men became seduced by the desire to pursue a more objective, rational, and sober opinion of a player’s value to the team by looking at various on-ice metrics.
Oh, what a wasted generation of sporting fans who have fallen prey to sites like Extra Skater and their pornographic Fenwick charts.
But what can you do to arm yourself against the pitfalls of cheering for a bad team?
Well, I’m here to tell you that Modern Science has come to the rescue! Researchers working at some of the finest laboratories in Wisconsin have discovered that bad sports teams have a surprisingly high incidence of bad players on them.
Using an advanced algorithm and other things I prefer not to try and understand, these researchers have come up with a way of ranking these players, commonly referred to as “bums”, with a score named the Cherry score and which provides a ratio labelled bum/60 which can be conveniently plotted on the gritchart.
Now, these are dangerously close to Advanced Stats and therefore should only be accessed under the supervision of a trained professional. Or in my case, a bookie.
Part of cheering for a bad team is to carefully intertwine all of your emotional connections with the organization with expertly crafted illusions. Take nicknames for instance. A terrible player with a great nickname is easy to cheer for, once you cloud your senses with nostalgia, incoherent arguments about potential, and malt liquor.
Nicknames are a long-cherished tradition within the sporting community. Nothing can help heal the wound of the desperate humiliation of being a fan of a bad team than to have a collection of players with terrific nicknames.
Why, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Clutterbuck, there have been some hilariously creative nicknames for professional athletes. You and your friends can try to come up with some new nicknames for your favourite players, the coach, even the training staff and play by play announcers. Hours of fun await!
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But I digress...there are many wholesome and creative ways to celebrate your love for your team's players despite their having only a passing resemblance to professional athletes.
You can create a video homage to your team using a popular song and some clips of their spirited play or perhaps a collection of highlights from one of your favourite exciting prospects.
Or you could elevate one of your prospects to near-legendary proportions before they even play an NHL game. Pick a player who is removed from immediate view and whose talents play well in small sample sizes and video clips, then mythologize the living daylights out of them.
This is a surefire way to guarantee that when that player arrives at the NHL they will live up to fan expectations, certainly the alternative is unconceivable.
But Mr. Libris, I hear you say, why don't I just pursue another hobby, or maybe learn another language?
Haha, seriously though, you can't leave and we both know that. When the team is so bad that fans are beginning to sing dirges instead of the national anthem and they raise their hands in the stands not to do the wave but surrender, the only logical thing to do here is to delve further into the neurotic and self-destructive behaviour that made you a fan in the first place.
Being a fan of a bad team means finding the bright spots in a season when there are none to be found. Failing that, use all of your mental faculties to identify a scapegoat or conspiracy.
There are positives to cheering for a bad team. Tickets are easy to come by. You can find a great deal on those team jerseys that were once so expensive. Hideously disfigured and afraid to show your face in public for fear that even stray dogs would wretch at the sight of you? Nobody will think twice about your wearing a paper bag to the game!
Your team has entered what experts call "a rebuild" and the Big Dictionary of Fancy English Words defines a rebuild as an experience not unlike a high-colonic - extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing, often appearing to last longer than it really does and usually ending in an abundance of excrement.
A rebuild only appears to go on forever, but in reality it takes only the better part of your natural life cycle. In the blink of a geological eye your team will have amassed enough talent and prospects to become a team of unimpeachably-average means.
What’s that? Your dignity?
Ha-ha, my young friend. If you had any dignity you wouldn't be spending as much time as we both know you do scouring hockey websites on the internet.