Why We Cheer: We All Need Professional Help
The line I use about being a Cub fan is that, above all else, it requires a deep commitment to overwhelming institutional mediocrity. Of course, this is meant as a joke, but the sad part is that, like any attempt at humor, when it works, it's because there's truth behind it. In this case, about 100 years worth.
Which raises, I suppose, the perfectly logical question of "why?" Why follow a team that so consistently fails expectations? Why be a fan of a club that at various points in its history can be legitimately accused of not trying very hard to get better? Why torture yourself year after year when realistic assessments tell you time and again that your hope is a fool's hope?
The answer for me, and for many of you, I'd guess, is love. Somewhere along the line, against your better judgment, you fell in love with the Chicago Cubs. The method doesn't matter. Whether you came into it because of your father, or the teevee, or seeing a special player strut their stuff on the cool, green grass, we're all in the same boat. This isn't shiny-happy, picket-fence-two-kids-and-a-dog love. This is messy, nasty, dish-breaking, knife-throwing, toss-your-stuff-on-the-lawn, make-up-sex, five-breakup, late-night-stalking, restraining-order-love. It's an "I wish I knew how to quit you" thing that none of us has the answer to, much as we wish we might.
But you know what? Even if they never get it done, even if I spend my entire life rooting for the Cubs, never seeing them reach the promised land, it won't have been a waste. Although they've given much pain over the years, they've also given buckets of joy and enjoyment. Love hurts sometimes, and expecting otherwise is Pollyannatude in the highest. I am nothing if not realistic, so I know my love could break my heart at any moment, but isn't love about a certain amount of hope and faith? It may be a fool's hope, and it may be faith misplaced, but it's all I've got, and I don't know about you, but I think it's going to pay off any day now.