SPOILER ALERT: Mizzou is bad at basketball this year.
The time for them to prove otherwise has passed, they are absolutely, completely, unequivocally awful. Don't you dare make any arguments to the contrary. You'll be wrong and you'll look like a big fool and all of your friends will still be your friends but they'll think you're a big goof that doesn't know basketball from croquet. We polled 17 doctors and they all agreed: Mizzou is terrible. This probably isn't news to most of you. It isn't hard to notice a stinker when it's presented to you. This team emits a smell so rank that it conjures up within its fans some sort of primal fight-or-flight reaction, and an instinct that powerful necessitates action. Ignoring it could bring you bodily harm, which brings us to the overarching question:
How the hell do you deal with the fact that your team is hot garbage?
First, you must accept that Mizzou is bad. Really let yourself be enveloped by it. Give in to the fact that it's quite possible the Tigers never win another game. It is crucial that you do this, as the doors to the following routes will not open up until you have. Most fans seem to have checked this box off already, but there will inevitably be holdouts. I implore those of you still holding out hope that Kim Anderson and company will turn things around this season to reconsider. It's not going to happen. Stop, don't retort, I told you what would happen if you did that 1.5 paragraphs ago. Let it go. Once we've all accepted that the team sucks, several possible routes open up. How you proceed depends entirely on your own personal tastes.
I want you to clear your mind. Remove any and all thoughts, leaving only a blank slate. A canvas, on which you will paint masterpieces of conceptual art. Art that has nothing to do with Mizzou's basketball team.
"Who? Mizzou has a basketball team? Oh, that's neat. Are they good or bad? Bad, huh. Well, that's fine, I'm an uninvested party who just likes to watch a group of kids try to work together as a team."
Ambivalence means detachment, which might make this a more difficult route for some Tiger fans. Those of you who choose to walk this route will likely face a bombardment of scorn from those on the other paths; but luckily, you just really don't care.
Some of you won't be able to completely detach from the team, and that's fine. This is your university. These are the players that wear your colors. How could you possibly forsake them? Even when they cause you enough pain to warrant medical attention, you would gladly spend precious hours of your ever-shortening life watching their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad basketball. I applaud the fans that choose this approach. I really do. They see this existence for what it really is: endless suffering. It's a cold world out there, but you can rest easy knowing that these bastions of sorrow will always be there to comfort you with a wet blanket and a sad trombone.
"UGH. Here we go again, another Mizzou team that will let me down. Just gonna go out there and Mizzou it up, aren't they. Yup, haven't scored a point in five minutes. This is awful. I am in physical pain because of this college basketball game. Why do I keep watc- UNCONTESTED THREE POINT ATTEMPT, WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THE LEA- nope, missed it. Of course they did."
The key difference between the fans that choose depression and the fans that I will highlight next is the fact that these guys hate feeling this way. Loathe it entirely. They just can't seem to go about their sports any other way. Like someone constantly attracted to deadbeat significant others, these fans know better. They know what they're doing isn't healthy, but they can't stop. These next folks, though. They're a whole 'nother story.
These fans are just as hurt as anyone else by the wafting fumes that is Mizzou basketball's garbage season, but they LOVE it. They can't get enough of it. The pain that they experience when watching this team play give them a high that no drug can replicate. They feed off of the message board commenters arguing about where to place the blame for the team's paltry successes. You can tell the masochistic fans from the depressed fans very easily. They will both watch the games, but someone who finds no enjoyment in their sorrow will only turn on the broadcast after they've been sufficiently talked into it, and even then they'll do so reluctantly. The masochists have multiple alerts set to remind them that Mizzou plays, they made snacks, and they have it DVR'ed for later.
"I TOLD YOU ALL THAT MIZZOU WOULD BE BAD THIS YEAR, BUT NOOOOOO YOU DIDN'T WANT TO LISTEN TO ME. LOOK, THERE'S THE PROOF FOR YOU RIGHT THERE. ANOTHER TURNOVER, THEY JUST CAN'T GET IT TOGETHER. LOOK AT ALL OF THESE EMPTY SEATS, WE HAVE SUCH BANDWAGON FANS. WE'LL NEVER COMPETE FOR A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THAT KIND OF SUPPORT."
Some might see those that choose to walk this path as trolls, and in some cases, they may be right in that assumption. It's important to remember, though, that these fans love their university just as much as the next person. They just have a unique way of expressing that passion. Very loudly unique, in most cases.
Bless those of you that choose this route, you are the best of us. Amidst the carnage of this season, these glorious fans will find what little kernel of hope there is. They'll see an individual performance from one of the young players, and get teary-eyed thinking about their potential to contribute in the future. They'll see a particular play work as it was designed to work, and they will applaud the coaching staff, championing the hire and beating the "Kim Anderson will lead Mizzou to the promised land" drum. Go ahead and try to dissuade these beautiful, beautiful people from their beliefs, I guarantee that you will find it an impossible task.
"Sure, it's another loss, but did you *see* how well Tramaine Isabell played!? That kid is going to be a star one day, you mark my words. And how about Keanau Post's resurgence!? Sure, he fouled out with four minutes to go, leaving a Texas-sized hole in our low-post defense; but boy did he ever impress me when he was actually in the game."
The degree to which the optimism becomes weaponized differs from person to person. Some will be content in just seeing instances of hope, but others will vehemently defend the team and its coaches with their very lives. We must remind ourselves that – even though these banner-men may seem violent and rude – they really do mean well.
In fact, all of the different types of fans mean well. It's easy to forget that. Instead of butting heads, why not take a moment to think: "This person isn't so different from me, they've just chosen to handle this season in a different manner than I." We are all one people, cut from the same black and gold cloth. Though some may choose to let sadness envelop them and others constantly lurch toward the light at the end of the tunnel, we are all Tiger fans. Let us not allow one bad season to tear our wonderful fanbase apart.
Or do, who am I to tell you what to do?