Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Quit Lion Around: I'm not a huge sports fan. To begin with, I'm not huge (and my last name isn't Ackman - LOL, I crack me up), and while I stay aware of what's going on in sports I only pay close attention when things get interesting. I guess you could call me a fair weather fan, but I still manage to identify with the local Detroit professional teams for the most part. The sole exception being the Detroit Lions.

For reasons I'm not exactly sure of, I never bonded with the Lions as a lad. Then, by an odd twist of fate, my family was vacationing in Florida (near Ft. Lauderdale) the year that the Miami Dolphins had their undefeated season. That event etched the Fins in my 12-year-old brain as "my" football team and it remains that way to this day, even though I have never lived in or near Miami.

All this is probably for the better since being a Lions fan is akin to sticking pointed metal objects in the soles of your feet and then running a marathon. Without shoes. In the snow. Uphill. While spectators throw rotten vegetables. Towing a Chevy Suburban. With a skunk roadkill tied to your neck. I could go on...

The other Detroit teams all have at least something to offer. The Red Wings have been on a real tear the past few years and were probably the best team in hockey history last year. The Pistons were champs in 89 and 90, made the playoffs last year and have possibly improved for next season. The Tigers, well, they are abysmal now but one of my earliest sports memories is the Tigers winning the '68 series (yes, that's one, nine, six, eight) with lots of drama, and they completely dominated 1984 series - good memories.

But the Lions - they got nothing. Fifty plus years without a Super Bowl (that's five, zero). The Lions have two standard outcomes to a season: 8-8, either barely missing the playoffs or getting slaughtered in the first round, or 2-14 with oaths of change and improvement emanating from various management orifices.

A losing record, even a congenital one, isn't necessarily a barrier to fandom. Look at the Chicago Cubs, whose fans span the nation and see the Cubs as the moppish little kid who can't quite measure up, but you love him just the same.

Winning the big one can't be all that important either. The Red Sox leverage the Curse and Buckner's error to appeal to the passive aggressive, who wear all the failures like badges of defiance.

Not the Lions. When the Lions lose, they just plain lose and everyone shrugs and goes home to rake the leaves. The Lions lose without personality. The Lions lose invisibly.

Perfect example: ESPN editors regularly run sports based lists. They then ask for fans to create their own. A while back they did a list of toughest teams to be a fan of. Notice all the great names, but no Lions. Not even an "also mentioned." The fans however, gave the Lions the only first place finish they are likely to ever see. The Lions lose with such nondescript regularity that journalists don't even realize it. The Lions can't even lose with infamy.

Soon, another football season will begin. Go Fins.