Point of View: Frustration rises when teams get so close, then lose

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By James Byers
News editor

Can I catch a break?

Or rather, can my teams catch a break?

I’m tired of losing, losing, losing. Ever since “winning” became a societal catch phrase, it’s just served as a painful reminder of how my teams aren’t.

Allow me to explain. As an Indiana native, my favorite sports teams have achieved a high level of success in recent years, by most standards. If I were a reasonable person, I would be satisfied with their performance.

Take the Indianapolis Colts. Pretty good team, right? They win a lot of games, and they reached the Super Bowl just two seasons ago.

How about the Butler Bulldogs? For two years in a row they’ve pulled off shocking, totally unexpected runs to the men’s college basketball championship game.

The problem: Both teams lost in the championship.

The Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. Shortly after that, the Bulldogs fell about 2 inches short of beating the evil Duke Blue Devils on a last-second heave from half court. And just last week, Butler lost again – in less thrilling fashion – to Connecticut.

Not enough Hoosier heartbreak? Just wait until the next night, when Notre Dame lost the women’s championship to Texas A&M, of all teams.

Watching Butler lose in person at Reliant Stadium in Houston last week was the final straw.

How does a team shoot 18.8 percent from the field? I didn’t think that was possible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still proud of my Bulldogs, but I’m throwing up my hands in exasperation. It’s like my teams are cursed.

Need more proof? My beloved Indiana Pacers lost the NBA championship to the Lakers in 2000.

The Indiana Hoosiers lost the college basketball championship to Maryland in 2002. To top it all off, last year the Indiana Fever lost the WNBA championship to the Phoenix Mercury. OK, I’m not going to pretend like that one bothered me.

In all seriousness, the teams I care about are 1 for 6 in major championships in my lifetime. That’s pretty paltry.

The one victory is the only thing keeping me sane. The Colts won the 2006 Super Bowl. But that taste of the highest success has me craving more.

Texans can sympathize – except fans of the San Antonio Spurs, that is.

The Texas Rangers recently lost the championship and the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Astros have all suffered a similar fate. UT football may have won it all in 2006, but the team lost a heartbreaker in 2010. What gives?

I can hear readers groaning from here – “Is he really complaining about losing in the championship?” – after all, what right did I even have to expect Butler to be in the championship?

Shouldn’t I be satisfied that my teams made it that far? Maybe I should.

Most teams don’t make it to the championship in the first place. If you’re a fan of a perennially losing team, you probably hold no sympathy for me.

But I’m here to argue that getting so close – and losing – is even more painful than mediocrity.

I’ve experienced both. When you don’t expect your team to win, it doesn’t kill you when they don’t.

James Byers is a senior business journalism major from Indianapolis and the news editor for the Lariat.