Harsh, I know.
The St. Louis Blues disappeared from the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 4-2, first-round collapse for the third consecutive season.
And this year was supposed to be different. So different. With off-season pickups like Jori Lehtera and Paul Stastny, we expected St. Louis to shut down for a parade in June, not in the 3rd period of game six.
Instead, we’re wondering how soon will T.J. Oshie sweaters go on the clearance rack at Dick’s? How soon will Hitch’s Hat bear a generic NHL logo? How soon before fans debate who the new team captain will be?
I tweeted something after the game that some people took the wrong way, and I probably worded poorly:
Maybe we err by assuming the organization cares as much as [we] do. #stlblues
— Bill Hennessy (@whennessy) April 26, 2015
My tweet wasn’t a dig at Blues ownership or management. Not even a dig at the players, really. My tweet was directed to some Blues fans.
Disappointed, frustrated, angry fans were tweeting the kinds of things I’ve tweeted and shouted myself after tough losses by the home team. My tweet was intended to get some attention.
What Can You Do About It?
When you care about the results of an event you don’t control, you are bound to feel despair, frustration, and disappointment. That’s why the Blues players might seem less disappointed and frustrated that you do, dear fan.
I promise you the Blues players feel something, and it’s something rotten. At least, the good ones feel it. But they don’t feel the same things you feel, because they had more control over the game’s outcome than you did.
When we let ourselves down, we feel something more like embarrassment and confusion. When others let us down, we feel disappointment. When we realize we can’t control the outcome, we feel frustration.
What Do You Control?
While you don’t control the flow of the game or whether Bortuzzo gets a start, you do control something very important in sports. In fact, you alone control the most important factor in determining whether this game–or any game so important–ends in celebration or tears.
You alone control what you do after the game.
You alone control how you feel after the game.
You alone control whether you tweet angry promises to burn Blues memorabilia and “learn to hate this team,” or whether you step out into the crisp, brilliant sunshine of a perfect April Sunday and smile.
It Took Me a Long Time
I’m 51 years old. I went to my first Blues game during the 69-70 season. I’ve seen a lot of playoff exits by my favorite team in my favorite sport.
Most of my life, I handled Blues losses like a child. I ranted, I treated my family like crap, I yelled. I made promises that I’d never keep.
And you know what my tantrums did?
If you said my tantrums did nothing, you’re wrong.
Each of my tantrums made my family love me a little less. They made my life a little less complete. Combined with too much beer, my tantrums dimmed my memories of my kids’ birthdays and their first solo rids on bikes without training wheels.
After so many sports losses, I chose to wallow in anger and frustration and disappointment. That choice left me with fewer happy memories and fewer invitations to watch the game with friends. Who wants to be around a sulking, swearing jerk?
I’m not telling you this because I’m proud of myself. I’m telling you because, maybe nobody else will tell you. If anyone told me that I was completely responsible for how I felt about Blues losses, I didn’t listen. And maybe you won’t, either.
But now, at least, I’ve taken three steps toward sport-psychosis recovery: I’ve seen the beast in myself, I’ve tamed the beast (a bit) in myself, and I’ve warned my neighbors that the beast is out there.
So, no, the Blues organization doesn’t care less than we fans do. But they feel differently. They live with what was in their control, and we live with what’s in ours.
I hope all my twitter friends who made harsh promises after the loss will take a breath, now, and accept this hard truth: the disappointment we feel is our fault.
The good news: the smile you feel coming on is your own fault, too.
The best news: if you force yourself to smile, you’ll feel better.
It’s not up to me if you smile and feel better right now. It’s up to you. But if you don’t smile and you don’t feel better, don’t blame me or a hockey team. Everything you need to be happy is already in you.
Let’s go Blues.