SFN: The following is a special submission to SFN from a longtime reader and contributor most famously known as SMD.
Letting Go of Expectations
To call my mood on Saturday night demoralized would have been generous at best. While I certainly didn’t expect the Wolfpack to beat Clem or his Son, I foolishly thought we might give the Tigers a little better game and at least execute some of the basics of football, such as wrapping up the legs on a tackle.
State fans are some of the worst to wallow in our own self-pity, and by Saturday night I was in a full-fledged swan-dive to the depths of Wolfpack martyrdom. “Why do I pay all this money when I never get to see us win a damn thing,” I woefully asked myself. And of course, that gets followed with the classic – “I should just give up my lifetime rights, save the money and find something else to be passionate about.”
I went to bed early Saturday night still feeling sorry for myself. The next morning I got up and drove to Charlotte to take in the Carolina Panthers game and tailgate for a freelance writing assignment. After I parked in uptown Charlotte, I didn’t have to walk too far to find some great tailgating going on. Every parking lot had dozens of grills and coolers. People were sporting their Panthers attire, and a few of the parties even had their own DJs blasting dance tunes. The party was going on full blast.
That’s when it hit me – these people are out here having a wonderful time and the Panthers are sitting on a 3-5 record with all manner of personnel issues. The Panthers tailgaters were determined not to let the low expectations game get them down. Regardless of what happened on the field, there was a party to put on! That sirloin isn’t going to grill itself and that beer certainly won’t drink itself.
Seeing the great party in Charlotte lifted me up from the depths of wallowing by reminding me that when it comes to following sports, there are tons of items – including how good the team is – that the fans have absolutely no control over. What we can control is the memories we make with our friends and family coming together at these sporting events.
The State games may suck on the field, but the fellowship with my friends and family provide memories that will last far longer than whether we beat Clemson or not.
Would these memories be better if State had a Top 10 team? Absolutely. But I’ve got no control over that and need to stop expecting anything regarding on the field accomplishments when it comes to Wolfpack athletics. I also have to stop letting what happens on the field define my happiness.
I can’t change the fact that I am a Wolfpacker. It’s in my DNA and I can’t imagine being anything else. What I can change is how I react to not having a winning athletic program. There are plenty of fanbases who are blessed with top-notch athletics programs, but don’t have half of the camaraderie and spirit I see every Saturday within Wolfpack Nation. It is a shame that such a passionate fanbase gets little success in return? Sure. But why focus on the lack of winning when nothing we do will change it? (Spare me the – “if we all stopped giving money” posts – when has that EVER happened?)
All that I can control is how much food I stuff into my friends and family on game day, and the memories we make in fellowship together. The cost of the tickets and parking are worth it to me for the chance to make these memories.
Let go of the expectations game and come by my tailgate for a brat and some Sweet Tea Vodka. You’ll be happy you did!