Thursday, January 21, 2010

Don't Break My Heart

True story: This past summer, a friend of mine and I were talking about a Minnesota team finally winning a World Championship. We were wondering just how much we'd be willing to give up to watch a Minnesota team finally win one. I said there wasn't a dollar amount I would put on it--I would be willing to be in debt for the next decade if it meant watching the Twins or Vikings win a World Championship. I'd enjoy a Timberwolves or Wild championship as well, but not to the level of a Twins or Vikings one.

At the time, I was in a serious relationship with a girl I'd been with since high school. We'd been together at this point for over four years, and my friend jokingly asked if I'd give up my relationship for a Twins or Vikings championship. I laughed and immediately answered 'absolutely!' although even I'll admit I was joking at the time. Of course, we spent the next ten minutes actually thinking about, weighing the pros and cons of my relationship compared to a world title.

Eventually, after way too much thought about what started as a joke, I told my friend that yes, in all honesty, if it guaranteed a Vikings or Twins championship, I could live with losing my relationship. That undoubtedly makes me look like a pig, and an asshole, but there were logical reasons that led me to arrive at my answer.

It needs to be noted that this wasn't just a random relationship that meant little to me. It's impossible to be with someone for close to five years without it becoming very serious, so for those of you guys thinking "Of course I'd break up with someone for a title!!" it wasn't that much of a no-brainer.

Anyways, there were two main reasons we came to the conclusion that a championship was worth more than a serious relationship:

- There are other opportunities to find a relationship. A championship in Minnesota has been far more elusive than finding another girl for most people. The Twins haven't won a World Title in almost twenty years, and the Vikings have never won one. As important as this relationship was to me, there's some Vikings fans that have been here since they arrived in 1961. That means they've gone almost fifty years without a championship. If you were to give me fifty years to find someone, I'm not certain I would find a relationship that meant as much to me as this one, but the chances are I would.

- No matter how serious a relationship is, it's never forever. Things happen, people change, and over time people can grow apart. Sure, at the point of this discussion we'd been together for close to five years, but that doesn't mean things won't change. A Super Bowl or World Series is forever. Sure, you're only the champion for that one year, but they will be that years champion for eternity. If a relationship ends on a sour note, there's a chance I'd look back on the memories with anger. No matter what happens with the Twins or Vikings for the next decade or longer, if they win a championship I will always look back on that season with great memories.

That conversation is of interest to me today because over the last month or so things changed in my relationship, and we are no longer together. With the Vikings two wins away from a Super Bowl Championship, I couldn't help but wonder if that conversation had more merit to it than simply a random, half joking, time-killing conversation in the middle of the summer. Obviously I would have preferred the championship first, since the Vikings almost certainly will break my heart, but I won't complain if I have to wait three weeks for a Super Bowl.

Following a sports team is a lot like dating someone. There's ups and downs, moments you wonder why the hell you put in the time for what seems like a lost cause, and moments where every thing finally seems worth it. I definitely had all of those in my relationship. Unfortunately, in my decade-long love affair with Minnesota sports teams, I've yet to have that moment where every thing finally seems worth it. The most exciting games in my lifetime, in my opinion, was Game 163 between the Twins and Tigers this past year, and the Wolves game 7 in which they beat the Sacramento Kings to get to the Western Conference Finals. Sadly, both of those wins ultimately meant nothing, as the Twins were swept out of the playoffs and the Wolves lost in six games to the Lakers. I've had ups and downs, and over the last decade I've had more than enough moments wondering why the hell I follow these teams so religiously.

I'm hoping to finally understand why following sports is worth it. The Vikings are two wins away from not only winning the Super Bowl and making every Vikings forget about the last fifty years, but if they can do it with Brett Favre leading them it will be worth all of the heartache that this franchise has put their fans through.

So yes, if the Vikings can win the Super Bowl, I will be a bit frightened that what seemed like a worthless conversation ultimately came to fruition. That doesn't mean I'll complain. All I hope is that the Vikings finally stop playing games with all of our minds, and for the first time since arriving in Minnesota, they don't break our hearts. Consider me cautiously optimistic.