Highly trained athletes will tell you there is a natural ebb and flow to athletic performance. The trick in any sport is trying to hit your peak when it counts most. This is true in individual events like Track & Field… but even more important in team sports where each athlete needs to peak at the same time and the team dynamics need to be at their best also. A lot of teams can practice well all week and then fall apart come game time. Or, if you remember the Miami Dolphins towards the end of Dan Marino’s career, they’d make a go of it towards the end of regular season only to lose in the first game of the playoffs. Very disappointing.
Other teams, spend years struggling before they finally get it all together. Think of the pre-Gruden Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Houston Texans when they were a first-year expansion team. They weren’t always the respectable teams they are known to be these days. Florida State and the University of Miami were both perennial football schools until they made a few good showings in the NCAA Tournament. And as fans of those teams can all tell you, as quickly as they got respect, they slumped back into mediocrity.
Being able to stick with your team through the good and bad can be just as taxing on you, the fan, as it is for the athlete. The trick is to focus on more than just the scoreboard and really become a fan of the team. Got a new running back? Study how he does in his rookie season compared to the baseline average for other rookies. Watched all your seniors graduate after the Final Four last year? Start evaluating whether your new team is a stronger offensive or defensive talent than last year’s guys. Frustrated because they traded away all your favorite players during the off season? Try fantasy sports where you can still have a vested interest in watching your favorite players without lamenting the fact they no longer play for your team. Become a student of the game and you’ll quickly find dozens of reasons to love your team through thick and thin.