Being a fan is easy. It should be, at least. That’s what my friends tell me.
But they don’t deal with the emotional investment. The experience of living and dying with every throw. That feeling of believing the team will turn things around... even when everyone knows they won’t.
That’s not easy. And anyone who has done it - especially those of us who root for Mizzou - knows that. And it’s been especially difficult for Mizzou fans this year.
This year has been full of disappointment for Tigers fans. The football team that was supposed to have a legitimate opportunity to win nine or 10 games couldn’t qualify for a bowl game.
The basketball team that showed so much promise down the stretch a year ago has failed to live up to its promise this season. And to add injury to insult, the talented yet frustrating big man who came to Mizzou with much fan-fare has been ruled out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot.
So, there’s that.
Being a Mizzou fan in 2020 feels a bit like a fly going toward the light. The fly undoubtedly knows the flight is going to end horribly. I’m sure the fly’s friends warned it of the potential consequences of drifting toward the light.
But the fly can’t help itself.
The fly is us. This is our life. This is life as a Mizzou fan.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t, at least. Sports are supposed to be an escape. A way for us to disconnect from the realities of the world for a period of time and care exclusively about the quarterback throwing a perfect spiral to the receiver down the far sideline. College sports, in particular, are supposed to be about family and friends coming together to celebrate the pageantry.
For much of the last year, it’s been anything but a celebration of Mizzou athletics. The basketball arena is nearly empty. The football team was left for dead by Halloween.
And so to start this New Year, all I have one request: Can we please get an offseason of positive news for Mizzou football? The basketball season may very well go south. The baseball team is banned from the postseason. But the football team can still provide us with hope.
Eli Drinkwitz is going to be the main source of that hope leading into 2020 and beyond. Recently, he coined a new motto for the 2020 recruiting class, “#NewZou20.”
That motto is what I’m talking about. Drinkwitz comes to Mizzou as a new coach with a clean slate and a fresh vision.
Drinkwitz has every opportunity to capitalize over the coming months on our thirst for a reason to believe. The expectations are going to be relatively low for Mizzou football in 2020. That’s fair and deserved given the talent level of the roster. I don’t ask that the team give us reason to believe it will win 10 games in 2020. That’s not realistic.
All I’m asking for in 2020 is a reason for optimism.
Is that too much to ask?