For as much time and emotion as we dedicate to them, sports are generally pretty miserable.
Every year, in every league, 99.999999999 percent of teams go into the offseason as, “losers.” This is especially true in professional sports, where only one team in each league gets to take home a trophy. You could argue, however, that it’s even more true in college sports. For the sake of brevity, let us consider football.
There are 130 schools in the FBS, and only four of them get into the College Football Playoff each year. That already leaves 97 percent of college football teams on the. And with 12 game seasons, the margin for error to be one of those teams is almost non-existent.
This is especially so if you aren’t one of the elite programs in the country. Since its inception, only 10 programs have made the playoff and only five have won a game. Furthermore, only once in the first five years has a conference sent more than one team. So not only do you have to be nearly perfect for 12 games, you also (most likely) have to beat out another potential champion to have the right just to play in the semifinals.
So for a championship season to take place, everything has to fall into place. Bouncing balls. Missed calls. Players that don’t get injured. There’s no recipe for success when it comes to winning the big one. If anything, it’s more like a stockpot — you’re just throwing crap in and hoping it turns out OK.
That, friends, is why the first day of preseason camp is the most enjoyable day of the season.
For the shortest period of time — be it a day or, god help us, maybe even a few weeks! — nothing has gone wrong. Nobody has hurt themselves slipping on concrete. Refs haven’t blown any pass interference calls. Your doe-eyed kicker hasn’t clanged a chip-in off the left post. For a few blissful moments, the dream hasn’t died.
Everything you hope for this season — as slim as the chances may be — is still in play. The wildest scenario you could think of, good or bad, is not out of reach. We may have stats (important!) and probabilities (helpful!) that tell us what should happen. But, as any fan can tell you — and don’t we know it as Missouri fans? — improbability is the only sure thing.
More than likely, the season won’t turn out how you want. Your team will, almost inevitably, disappoint you in crushing fashion. Someone will drop a gimme pass or blow a coverage to a wirey freshman burner. Opportunities will continuously slide through your team’s grasp as you load up Twitter to firebomb the cleverest obscenity you can imagine onto your waiting followers. Together, we’ll unite under a banner of misery and sing an anthem of torture, our hatesong echoing into the void.
But that’s for another day.
Today? Today we have hope. So enjoy it, because hope is a hell of a lot more enjoyable than whatever madness we’re set to encounter over the next few months.