There is a very strange realization I came to tonight:
Fans of my alma mater believe that who we were define who we are.
And I do not.
I was with this girl tonight. She is Missouri-born and a Tiger fan through and through. She loves this team. She actually understands football.
And tonight, when the Mizzou-Arizona State game went to overtime, she immediately said: “We’re going to choke.”
I asked her why, and she said, “Because Mizzou always does.”
And that’s thinking I used to be able to get behind. But lately, something’s changed.
See, when I showed up at this school, Mizzou wasn’t very good at sports. We lost. Always. And usually in rip-your-heart-out fashion.
But since I’ve been here: We’ve won far more than we’ve lost. We’ve beaten the #1 team in the country. Been ranked #1. Been to two Big 12 title games. Won a New Year’s Day bowl.
Longtime Mizzou fans forget this, though. Because in their minds, we’ve always been bad, and we always will be. Even when we’re winning. Even when we’re beating the #1 team in the country.
For them, past is present.
I don’t think like that anymore. I’ve rooted for a lot of bad teams. I’ve seen a Maryland football team get dominated by Ohio. Not Ohio State. OHIO University. I’ve seen teams like American and William & Mary beat my beloved Terps basketball team. I’ve seen the Redskins falter and falter. I’ve seen my Caps fall again and again.
My hometown of Washington, D.C., is closing in on Cleveland as America’s worst sports town. This is not a good thing.
But what I am certain of is this: It is the hard times that make the big wins that much sweeter. As a fan, we need losses like tonight’s. We need to be demolished sometimes.
Because one of these days, a win will come along that reminds us of why we watch in the first place. And it will be all the sweeter because of it.
I believe in the future of Missouri football. I believe there will be heartbreak, and I believe there will be greatness.
And I am damn sure that I will be out at a bar rooting hard for those Tigers every Saturday. I’ll be watching because I believe: Good things come this way.
I hope next Saturday brings better things for my Tigers. I really do.