It's possible there is something wrong with me. As a sports fan, and specifically a fan of the New England Patriots, I watched yesterday's win over the Kansas City Chiefs and did not cut my wrists or wail against the gods or weep quietly over the news that Tom Brady-- the brilliant quarterback, reigning MVP, all-around handsome guy and the name on the only replica jersey I own-- went down for what appears to be the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
I am, in fact, a little excited about football season now.
Last year was not as enjoyable as you might think. If you recall, the Patriots went on a season-long Vengeance Tour during which the team closed ranks over charges of spying, running up the score, and something about the Lindbergh baby. They were the favorite in every game they played, and by a wide, wide margin. It was exhausting.
I'm serious. One of the joys of any sports fan's viewing experience is to see the Underdog Overcoming the Odds to Win Against All Expectations. In that sense the 2001-2002 Patriots victory over the Rams with a backup quarterback and a team stocked with discarded players from other teams is the nadir of my football-watching experience. (In the same vein, the 2004 Red Sox team will always come before all others.)
But in 2007-2008, the Patriots were the Overdog, every time. And by the end of the season I was of course still rooting for the team-- there is still a basic tribal need at work in rooting for the Us over the Them-- but it was more out of fear. Nobody wants to see their team become the cautionary tale, the giant slain by, in this case, the Giants.
I am much happier rooting for the plucky underdog. It's easier accepting defeat, and victory is a welcome surprise. And if the team doesn't win, well, whatever: we lost Tom Brady, after all.