The Agony of Being a Lion’s Fan
Updated: Jan 16, 2021
With football right around the corner, this is the best time of year to be a Lion’s fan. 0-0. We may be winless at this point, but we are also undefeated. It is the time of year we Lion’s fans can have hope. Hope in either making some noise or having a decent year. Sometimes the hope is that our new draft pick will surprise us this year or maybe one of the other young players will take a big leap forward.
I do not know if I love watching the Lions. Sometimes turning the game on every week feels like self-flagellation. I make jokes about the Lions, but every Sunday I watch, check the box scores and read about how they played. The jokes make the harsh reality a bit easier to swallow. This hope I have every year is what makes it so depressing to be a Lion’s fan. At least the Browns fans wake up knowing it is a factory of sadness they are watching (Until now apparently). Lion’s fans wake up believing in the tiniest of glimmers of something possibly elevating us beyond misery.
Right now, that is Matthew Stafford. We have a franchise quarterback; the best quarterback in franchise history. Yet, we have not won a playoff game since 1991. This little fact means that I have watched the Lions my whole life without seeing them win a playoff game. Why is that?
I often joke with my family that this fan-hood is a curse. My father would put his face into his hands after particularly devastating losses and tell both my brother and myself, “Sorry. I am really sorry I made you a Lion’s fan.” Now to some, it might seem silly that we put ourselves through this process of dashed hopes once a year. Take, for example, my mother. She would hear us excitedly discussing an upcoming season’s prospects and would tell us, “Don’t get your hopes up. This will probably be just like every other year. They are sucking you in.” So, every year of my life, my Mom has played the prophet and my Dad the eulogizer.
Every Thanksgiving the extended family will gather around the screen to watch the Lions and join in a group therapy session. I should not call it therapy, but rather a sort of catharsis through venting their collective grievances. Depending on how the game goes, the group either gets their hopes up at the possibility of what the team could do down the stretch or alternatively the jokes begin about how sad it is to be a Lion’s fan. I am not sure how anyone from Michigan could not wake up on Thanksgiving morning without knowing the day's agenda; watch the Lions lose, eat turkey, have a slice of pie, and intermittently complain about the Lions.
The complaining has most certainly become part of the fun. When I have watched games with my fiance's family, they try to cheer me up and bring a positive outlook to the game. They are from separate parts of the country and are not really football fans. Even if they were football fans it would not help them understand this peculiar joy of being a Lion’s fan. When they fumble the kick return, we laugh and say “of course.”
You cannot expect a Lion’s fan to get upset every time there is a major screw up. We would literally go mad. So, why not just turn it off and stop watching? We will not turn the T.V. off and we will not stop going to the games. We believe in our hearts, though we will never admit it, that someday we will see them win. Do you think any other city’s celebration ever was bad? Costly? Bordering on anarchy? If the Lions win a Super Bowl…I dare not even think of what would happen. Those poor Coney Island’s.
Being a Lion’s fan is a practice in loyalty and patience. Someday, all this time wasted on following the team will mean something. Maybe it does already. If Lion’s fans can get past drafting wide receivers three years in a row, deferring in overtime because of the wind (still makes me angry), and of course 0-16, then we should be fine with any other wild thing that happens. Barry Sanders retires early? Okay, Calvin Johnson retires early? Okay. Mathew Stafford retires early? Please, no. My point here is that maybe what the Lions have taught us fans is how to deal with something out of our control in a low stake’s way.
Whether or not the Lions win a football game week to week does not really matter in the grand scheme of things. What does matter about being a Lion’s fan is the loyalty and patience learned; Dealing with the nonstop mockery.
It would be much easier to be a Patriots fan, or a Saints fan, or a Chiefs fan. It would be easier to jump from team to team, but this is satisfying enough for me. When the Lions win, it means more because I sat through Joey Harrington, Rod Marinelli, and Kalimba Edwards. I cringe thinking about what my ancestors (who passed on this wicked curse) have sat through.
I watched every game of the 0-16 season from beginning to end. Maybe it was a waste of time. But the excitement I got when Stafford came to Detroit and had the amazing performance against the Browns counterbalanced the abysmal season. It gave me hope. Hope is the omnipresent lie of being a Lion’s fan. So far, hope has been enough. The highs are counterbalanced by the lows. Hopping a bandwagon would be easy, but more importantly, it would be empty. The lows give the highs meaning just as the highs give the lows meaning.
So, the agony of being a Lion’s fan is real, but it does not matter. On Thanksgiving, I will probably watch them lose. Then, as I said before, the family will get up, make jokes, and enjoy more than enough turkey, stuffing, and pie. It is a tradition; watch the Lions lose and eat the pain away. I guess it has its upsides too. As I said, the lows give the highs meaning.
For more material like this, click here to see all previous sports-related posts. Also, consider subscribing or following us on Facebook or Instagram so you never miss an update.