In 2012, brothers Nick and Steven Guerrette were two of 166.8 million people to tune into the Super Bowl. Being from Brunswick, Maine, these brothers had a more direct interest than most: they were hoping — and, admittedly, praying — their beloved New England Patriots would avenge their 2007 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants that had ruined their perfect season.
Well, we all (166.8 million of us at least) know what happened after that. The Patriots stumbled once again, losing to the Giants in the waning minutes of the contest. They crumbled and the world watched. Steven and Nick groaned inwardly. They, and the rest of their Patriots friends, mourned.
Much is made of sports psychology as it pertains to athletes. How is a dedicated individual who devotes hundreds of hours into conditioning, practice and team meetings expected to proverbially get off the mat when what they have been working toward is shattered in a matter of minutes?
The concern should not be for the professional athlete, however. These fine people are rewarded handsomely for putting on the world’s most universal form of entertainment, and for doing it at a level nobody else could. They have their millions and their superstar lifestyle to comfort them during the off-season.
What about the fans?
Consider this your survival guide to the days and weeks following your team’s crushing defeat— which, unless you cheer for the UConn women’s basketball team — oops, never mind — is bound to happen during some point in your life.
Here are 5 things you can do to keep (or restore) your sanity during that dark hour:
1. Find a non-destructive way to vent.
Frustration is inevitable. Do not smother this emotion. Allow your feelings to get to you. Steven, who has experience with both sides of the coin, being from a region that has enjoyed six professional championships over the past decade, highly recommends the following coping method.
“This girl had made us Super Bowl cupcakes and one of them had giants written on it,” Steven said. “Right after the hail mary hit the ground, I picked it up, went outside and spiked it into the ground. It was a simple easy way to get that frustration part out.”
2. Breathe. Find some fresh air.
Nick describes himself as an emotional freshman in 2007, the year the Patriots entered the Super Bowl with an 18-0 record and a chance to make history, but left empty-handed. The Patriots were the bad guys that season, and Nick was the only one on his entire dorm floor cheering for New England. But alone as Nick may have felt during the game, however, it was nothing compared to after.
“We were winning towards the end,” he said. “I was excited, and people started congratulating me.”
After Giants quarterback Eli Manning drove New York to the winning touchdown, the mood changed.
“I got texts from about five friends sticking it in my face,” Nick said. “I had good friends, who were fans of other teams, that just stuck it in my face. … I had to take a walk, I had to get out of there. That was a tough one to get over.”
Yes, some highlights are harder to avoid than others. If you’re a Division III college squash enthusiast, chances are you’re safe to turn on the television without seeing a report on Sports Center that just squeezes your heart dry. If your team folds in the Super Bowl or the World Series, on the other hand, these unexpected highlight-attacks can come at any time in the next several years — particularly if the loss took place in infamous fashion.
“I didn’t get online for a couple days,” said Steven of the recent Patriots debacle. “I let all the New York people have their fun with it. … Even for the next week or two, if they’d show highlights of the game we just changed the channel or turned off the TV, just trying to avoid those hard feelings. Usually stepping away from it for a couple days, it cools off real quick.”
Even if, under usual circumstances, you are singlehandedly keeping ESPN in (big) business, it may be wise to lay low for a while in the aftermath.
4. Do something… yes, other than sports.
Could the solution be right under our noses? (No, not that box of Kleenex.) Sometimes it is. There are instances when the only way to quit replaying the loss over and over is to fill your mind with things other than men running around and hitting each other.
Steven finds it can be something simple and still work.
“I just like doing something else, like homework or going and seeing a movie, anything else that lets you step back and get a better view of everything,” he said.
Easier said than done? Maybe. But it’s a good start for the bereaved.
5. Practice forward-thinking
Ultimately, the best way to move on is to move on. When you’re ready to think about sports again, continually put yourself in next-season mode and do not allow yourself to slip into memories about how close your team came to being immortalized. Being faithful to a team equals perpetual optimism even when there is no apparent reason for it — if not, would there be any Charlotte Bobcats fans? (Ok, that was mean.)
“Sometimes you lose — you play better teams and they have better days,” Nick admits. “Life goes on, unfortunately. No matter how bad they are, I’ll always support my teams. Always.”
Like a true brother and fellow fan, Steven agrees.
“I look at the team we still have and see that we’re still a good team,” he said. “Even though last year’s over, there’s still that kind of ‘maybe next year’ hope that I think all fans have, no matter what their team is, that the future might be better.”
And the reward, if and when it ever does come, is that much sweeter.