I’ll preface this by saying I am not a Cleveland sports fan. My wife’s family is, for the most part, Cleveland sports fans, and living in Columbus allows me to have a pretty good understanding of the Cleveland sports fan’s psyche. I, being a huge Detroit Lions fan, have always said that Cleveland and Detroit fans have always been cut from the same cloth since we all understand how to root for a team whose culture is predicated on losing.
Tonight, the Cleveland Cavs will try to avoid going down 0-3 against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. While losing tonight wouldn’t officially eliminate the Cavs, their chances of coming back and winning four games would fall somewhere between my chances of winning a golf medal in the Olympics and zero.
For reference, Cleveland is the only city that has at least three professional sports teams (Indians, Cavs, Browns) that hasn’t won a championship in the last half century. In fact, the last time Cleveland did win a professional sports championship (1964), Lieutenant Dan still had legs and the average home cost less that what most used cars cost today.
Ask any Cavs fan, and they’ll tell you they want to win tonight. They will tell you how starved the city is for a championship and how LeBron winning tonight would validate all sorts of pain and misery the city has gone through over the last 50 years.
But the truth is, deep down, Cleveland fans love the fact that they’re losers (in terms of professional sports teams only). Cleveland loves saying things like “that’s just like the Cavs/Indians/Browns” to do something or other, whether it’s get to the World Series and lose when you had victory in sight, or throw quarterback after quarterback on the field and watch them fail just like the guy before.
Cleveland fans wouldn’t know what to do if the Cavs came back and won the NBA Finals somehow. They’d no longer be able to say their fans deserve a ring, or pity themselves when the Browns lose again because, hey, at least the Cavs won a ring.
I don’t mean to write this as an attack on the city and I hope it isn’t coming across that way. As a Detroit Lions fan, I too can say I identify with a culture of losing. Lions fans love sharing in each other’s misery. And while I’d love a Super Bowl title in Motown, I wouldn’t know what to do once we start losing again.
Basically, Cleveland is the “drunk girl at a party crying about her ex-boyfriend” of the sports world. As soon as that girl finds a stable relationship, she doesn’t seem as interesting.
Cleveland fans love their city, love other Cleveland fans, and love the fact that they can tell other cities fans that “hey, at least you’re not us.” They love celebrating the fact that they can’t win for whatever reason, and I believe they wouldn’t know how to adjust if they ever break the curse.
That said, still rooting for the Cavs tonight!