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Winning or Losing, which is easier?

Is it harder to be a fan of a perennially losing team, or a perennially winning team?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I am not from Philadelphia.  I grew up in the Pittsburgh area and now live in Brooklyn, NY.  My blood runs Black and Blue and Gold for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Union.  Having grown up in Pittsburgh, I have been a fan of many winning teams over the years, with the exception of the Pirates who only lately have gotten their act together.  But as a Steelers fan, I have gotten used to an organization running things well, drafting well, and winning.  As a Union fan, I had gotten used to the endless cycle of cynicism and hopelessness that comes with an organization that isn’t run well, doesn’t draft well, and is generally dysfunctional.

This week as I finished my Poetry Corner Kicks article, the Brotherly Game’s fine editor Eugene Rupinski texted me and said, "Gotta be a good feeling writing about a solid win, no?"  I couldn’t agree more.  It is so much more fun to follow and write about a team that is winning.  But that got me thinking: while it is more fun to follow a team that is winning, is it EASIER or HARDER to follow a winning team versus a losing team?  The answer may seem obvious, but the reality is a bit murkier.

Being a fan of a winning team is certainly more fun.  But with that come expectations of winning as well.  When the Steelers lose, it hurts that much more because you expect them to win most games they play (with the exception of the dreaded Patriots- they have our number).  Then the losses in the biggest games tear your heart out.  You try to disconnect yourself and tell yourself it is just a game, but as a fan, you know these are just head games.  I die inside with every big Steelers loss.  The roller coaster ride that comes with the expected highs and crushing lows can really take a toll and make you wish you didn’t care so much.  As if not caring about sports were even a choice.

But being a fan of a perennially losing team is different.  There are no expectations.  Losses still hurt, but you have built up this hard, jaded, protective shell around you that doesn’t allow as much pain inside.  There are no major losses of consequence because you never make it to the playoffs.  The Union’s flirtation with the US Open Cup these last couple of years have been excruciating, but at the same time, expected.  Additionally, you can use a certain sardonic, self-deprecating humor to cope with your team’s inept play and clueless front office.  Fans of other teams even pull for you and your team because you are so "long suffering".

This year’s season so far seems to be a good mix.  Expectations, while raised from last year, are still relatively low.  This means that the early success has been a pleasant surprise.  But with each successive win will come increased expectations and hopes.  We won’t be able to help ourselves.  Which will make any potential playoff exits that much more crushing.  And if the Union do not make the playoffs at all, it will hurt even more.

So which is easier?  Remember, the question is not "which would you RATHER have, a winning or a losing team", but "Which is easier to cope with"?  I am genuinely curious to hear your thoughts on this.  Hit the below poll and follow up with your thoughts in the comments.