In the span of 24 hours, I experienced two sports losses and I took the opportunity to reflect a bit on how I coped. The Cowboys lost their season opener although in the franchise's entire history, the team had never lost a game in which they led by 14 points in the fourth quarter. Heartbreaking.
And then, Monday, my favorite tennis player, Rafael Nadal, lost the U.S. Open to Novak Djokovic, who has now beaten him six straight times - all in tournament finals. Heartbreaking.
Especially after the Cowboys game, I went into shutdown mode. I closed myself off from feeling emotion. I didn't watch any post game TV coverage or listen to sports talk radio the next day. I couldn't. I wasn't ready. I didn't want to think about what went wrong.
This is the best way for me to cope. When I was younger and just starting my sports fan journey, I would get so mad after Cowboy losses. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I certainly didn't want to talk about the game. Of course, the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls then, so the losses were rare.
But the Cowboys haven't won a Super Bowl since the 1995 season. Yeah, 16 years ago. Ouch. I think it's easy to see why I had to develop better coping strategies.
It was even more important when I added my other teams to the mix. The Mavericks were horrible in the 90s, but nothing will ever compare to them losing the NBA Finals in 2006. That pain will always be there, regardless of the fact that they are now NBA Champions.
I can't dwell on the losses because I'll drive myself crazy dissecting what went wrong, how it went wrong, and how it all could have been avoided. I'll be mad at the players, coaches, referees, the fates, whoever, whatever was responsible.
So now I don't think about it or at least not immediately. I was able to listen to sports talk radio Tuesday when I was better and able to think (somewhat) objectively and calmly about what happened.
When the Rangers went to the World Series last year and lost, it sucked. Big time. But I was able, fairly quickly, to put the loss into (sports) perspective. It was the farthest the team had ever gone in the playoffs and the team's future was bright.
Obviously, I'm older now. I'm not a bratty twelve-year-old who doesn't understand why things aren't going my way when they always have. I've matured.
I've had to or I would have been in the loony bin long ago. Sports isn't for the weak. The odds that your team will be the champion are slim and yet we keep persevering. Hope keeps us going. And while I bank on hope, I use a little emotion and brain freezing to deal with immediate pain.