The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t good and it’s ruining everything for all the fans. It’s ruining it for the fans who are tired of losing, because all we get is more losing. It’s ruining it for the fans who just want to be happy that they have a local NFL team to root for, because those other people are upset and bemoaning the team. Everyone is frustrated and it’s because the Jaguars are bad. This season has been a weird one for me as a fan, personally. I didn’t expect the team to be anything more than 7-9, really, hoping maybe they’d get some bounces. I’m as cynical and critical as anyone about the Jaguars, but when it boils down to it, I’m a fan and I want them to win, even if I end up looking like an idiot.
Looking like an idiot and feeling like an idiot are different, though. I can handle the former. I do it every day. With my wife, with my friends, at the office and/or on Twitter. Not a day goes by that I don’t do something to make myself look like an idiot. That’s normal. The past few weeks however, I’ve felt like an idiot, because of the Jaguars. Sports are supposed to be fun, they’re entertainment. It’s something that you consume because you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, why bother consuming it, right? Yes, I know the root of the word “fan” is fanatic and all that, but really if you’re not enjoying something why do you keep going back?
The past few weeks I’ve argued with people who think I’m too negative about the Jaguars and should be happy we have a team. My response to a lot of that has been “Always be a fan, never be a mark.” Recently however, I’ve realized I am the mark. I’m a fan, but in reality I am the ultimate mark. I keep going back, no matter what. I keep going back to the Jaguars no matter how bad they are. I can’t really explain it, but it is it what is. They’ve got me. That’s fine. Over the past few weeks however, I haven’t even been able to make the bad Jaguars fun. It’s just boring and I can’t bring myself to care enough to get mad. They’re not even entertaining in the bad way anymore, and as someone who’s a big fan of bad movies, I love stuff that is just unbelievably campy and dumb, but there is a threshold. I think I’ve reached that threshold for the Jaguars and it’s my own fault.
I’ve had season tickets for over a decade now. I keep going back, no matter how much they suck. How many other things in life that have been horrible for nearly a decade would you stick with? If I was in a horrible marriage, I certainly wouldn’t stick it out just because. If I was at a terrible job, I probably wouldn’t stay just because. So why do we do that with sports teams? I guess a lot of people adopt their sports teams as part of their identity in life, because sports for most people end up being that escape from reality. For those four hours, you’re not in the real world. You’re in the Jaguars world, living through them.
Simply put; my expectations weren’t being met, so it stopped being enjoyable. I know people think I go out of my way to criticize the Jaguars, but in all honesty I don’t. I don’t care enough about them to do that and I feel kind of bad about that, but should I? The Jaguars losing don’t ruin my Sunday anymore like it used to. To me, that’s a bit of a double edged sword. On one hand I miss being that emotionally invested in the team, but on the other I feel like it was probably very unhealthy to do so, and really what did I get out it? A euphoric feeling for a moment?
People often ask me why I still do this if I’m so down on the Jaguars. Full disclosure; it’s because I get paid. This stopped being a fun thing for me years ago. For a long time it was a cool hobby that I had turned into a job. Now it just feels like a chore. Is this me quitting Big Cat Country? Unfortunately for some of you, no, it’s not. More to the point, I’m not going out of my way to hate on the team, I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing, bringing you the news and my analysis on the team we’re all fans of. I honestly don’t really have some larger objective. But, this does lead me to ask myself why do I keep going back if it’s not fun? What am I really getting out of this? My expectations aren’t being met, but I keep going back. I’m the ultimate mark, really.
I decided a few weeks ago that if the Jaguars didn’t fire Gus Bradley after the Thursday Night game against the Tennessee Titans, if the game panned out how I thought it would (It did.), then I wouldn’t go to anymore home games until he was fired. Is that childish of me? Yeah, probably, but I’m not getting anything out of going there and spending my Sunday’s on a team that isn’t even bad fun anymore. Every tailgate people ask me if I think we’re going to win today and each time I always grin, say “No.” and laugh. Sure, I like hanging out with all my friends and everything, but when push comes to shove over the past year it’s felt like a huge waste of my time. I generally feel like leaving at halftime because my attention is lost and I’d rather put the game on as background noise and play Football Manager, Hearthstone, or really just do anything else. I feel like I still went because I had to, because as a fan it was my obligation. But again, why do I keep doing something I’m not getting satisfaction out of? Just because? I’m not really into the whole fan Olympics thing, measuring who’s the best fan. Who cares?
A friend asked me what changed that made me want to take a stand. Like, what was the difference in two weeks ago being 14-39 and now (then) being 14-41? What really broke the camel’s back? I didn’t have an answer for him. The reality was the camel’s back was already broken and I was just looking for a tangible, acceptable reason to do it. But, why should I care if it’s acceptable? I went because I enjoyed it but now it’s not enjoyable. I don’t continue to frequent restaurants I’ve stopped enjoying, so why this?
It was because I was a mark and they had me. They’d had me since I was 11 years old and they came to town. Being blindly hopeful of the Jaguars didn’t really help anything. Being angry about them didn’t really help anything, either. Ultimately I can’t influence anything about them. The reality is that it made me feel better to vent that frustration and not hold it in, but why did I let that frustrate me so much? I hadn’t been satisfied with it for years, so why keep doing that to myself? The apathy about the team probably hit me mid-season last year when I realized nothing is going to change anytime soon, so if I still wanted to be a fan I’d have to accept that. Again, I was the perfect mark. I accepted they wouldn’t be good, I wasn’t enjoying it, but I keep going back.
At the end of the day it’s a football game, so I have to stop and ask myself why it’s so serious. If I’m not enjoying it, why am I doing it?