According to Mental Health America, co-dependency is an “emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.”
Symptoms include “chronic anger, an unhealthy dependence on relationships” and “a tendency to confuse love and pity.”
This accurately describes my, and I predict many others’, relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs.
This feeling is not exclusive to professional sports. UMKC’s men’s basketball team likely has current fans experiencing similar unfortunate feelings. The Roos are in the midst of a losing season, suffering a nine-game losing streak late in 2012 and a poor conference record to top it off. For an unexplained reason, some people still turn out for these games, even with all hope for a chance in the postseason already lost
What is it that drives a fan to keep rooting and cheering for a team that continually comes up short, whether early in the game or in the final seconds?
In other forms of entertainment, such as sitcoms, when a show no longer makes the audience laugh and cry as it once did, viewers stop watching and find another show that can satisfy their need for entertainment.
So why do so many sports fans continue to watch their team even after they know the season is over?
Many fans of a team do not know the players or coaches personally. And people can choose who they root for, much like they can choose what television shows they watch. But there’s a kind of magnetic connection for fan and team.
There are the fans who invest their time and loyalty. Then there’s the team, which depends on the fans’ emotional support to motivate it and bring a larger purpose to its performance.
There has to be a give and take. Fans can only witness so much loss before they start doubting their allegiances. This may lead to bigger questions about devotion to a team that doesn’t seem as devoted to its audience, and what continuing to support a losing team says about the fans.
If the team I love can’t satisfy my desire to see them win, and as a result I’m having unsure thoughts about the stability of our monogamous relationship and my ability to remain faithful, then what does that say about my capacity to love unconditionally? Is my loving something contingent on the object of that love’s capability to perform at the level I want them to? Or is it possible to fully love and support a team for simply playing, regardless of final scores and end-of-season records?
I don’t know if there are sound, moral answers to these questions. But, I do know that one-way love is a tiring road and many of its travelers may soon be looking for the next exit.