5:25 a.m., the alarm rings -- it's another miserable Monday morning. And if you're a die-hard sports fan, there's a chance that your team's loss on Sunday is the first thought to pop into your head, inducing nausea and adding insult to injury.
I'm not talking about a casual fan. A die-hard fan, or DHF, has team tattoos, tailgates for eight hours before the game, and has pets or kids that bear the namesake. He takes his team personally -- and casual fans might even annoy him a little. Speaking as a Cowboys DHF (don't judge me) I've had many Monday mornings where I'm cringing at 5:26 a.m., haunted by the soul-crushing loss and anticipating a day from hell.
ESPN.com is off-limits, since they air the highlights and analysis of your beloved team's loss every five minutes all day long. You can't read the paper because the front page has the most demeaning photo of your QB and some terribly worded headline like "Romo No No." At work, co-workers who don't appreciate your team commitment tell bad jokes. Now, if you happen to be the fan of a team that's the division rival of your hometown team (born and raised in Brooklyn, and I love the Cowboys -- again don't judge me) you're really in for it. There's a 99.9% chance that your comrades hate your team with a passion, and plan on tormenting you the second they get the opportunity! Unbearable.
The worst part? The most enthusiastic heckling comes from people with no real vested interest in the game. If our teams aren't division rivals, if the game had no playoff implications involving your team, or if you don't even have a "team," you just jump on the bandwagon of whoever's hot from season to season - I really don't want to hear from you. Especially since returning the heckle is totally unsatisfying, because you're not that invested and don't care that much. As soon as the clock reads all zeros, you've gotten over your team's loss and moved on!
For a DHF, it's never that easy. Would you tease someone if their dog died? Would you make fun of someone for losing their job? Would you mock a person for having a terminal illness? This is how severe my pain is after a loss. The deeply rooted childhood memories multiplied by the time, money and tears invested in these franchises makes it a huge deal. To an outsider this slavish devotion seems childish and irrational, but I'm cool with that. It's something that only a fellow DHF could relate to.
But do keep this in mind the next time you pick up the phone to call, text, tweet or flirt-tease (one of the vilest offenses) your "team-extremist" friend after his/her team takes a loss. We don't expect sympathy. Just know that there is no 'Monday morning after' pill to take away the pain of a soul-crushing loss. So I guess its win or suffer the torment -- but either way, long live the die-hards!
Follow Sharief Easterling on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Carnegie_Kid