I have a problem. It has plagued me for about 10 years now. I’ve tried to quit cold turkey, I’ve tried to wean myself away, and I’ve sought help from every avenue I could think of. I’ve spent hours in therapy with those who struggle with the same compulsion. But time after time, again and again, I’ve found myself falling into the same trap, unable to escape the fact that I am a Memphis Grizzlies fan.
I know what you’re thinking. And yes, there is clearly something wrong with me. This franchise has been a source of consistent frustration to me since they moved to Memphis. Sports Radio in Memphis is often just group therapy for Grizzlies fans. There are delusional optimists and realists (the optimists label us as cynics, but they don’t know what they’re talking about, and we clearly do, as evidenced by the fact that the team seems to do everything possible to infuriate knowledgeable fans).
I think there are some important gospel truths that God has taught me through my fandom. First of all, team idolatry is rampant in America. Grizzlies’ fans certainly don’t have to worry about that. Secondly, suffering is a major theme throughout the Scriptures. For Grizzlies’ fans, suffering is simply the norm. Have you ever watched Hasheem Thabeet play basketball? I rest my case.*
Also, I’m more thankful for the imminent return of Christ, knowing without question that he will come to deliver his children from the present suffering that exists all around us. Why? Because there is no guarantee or certainty that the Grizzlies will ever deliver their fans from their suffering and give us something to be genuinely excited about.
Finally, I see something of a reflection of all of us in the team. They just keep messing up. I don’t think they want to. It just seems to be their nature. Every time it seems they’ve turned a corner, they fall into the same old habits (terrible drafting, bad trades, frustrating personnel decisions). And yet here I am, 10 years later, still a fan, still going to games, still hoping for the best. I’ve chosen to love and support them through thick and thin, certainly not because of anything they’ve done. And there you have it. The gospel of the Grizzlies.
*Disclaimer: I recognize that this is not true suffering. Evan wrote a great blog on that earlier this week, so instead of being offended by my post, go read his and know that I echo his sentiments.