Sports

Too high expectations will lead to big sports disappointments

Ogden column: Be realistic with 'your' teams and enjoy the games

Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller (17) and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols walk off the field following a 16-15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card game on Sunday. (Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller (17) and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols walk off the field following a 16-15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card game on Sunday. (Chicago Tribune)

As I watch the Chicago Bears battle Philadelphia in an NFC wild-card game, I can’t help but think about expectations, satisfaction and disappointment.

And, of course, why?

It’s something I’ve been contemplating for several months, after seeing a friend’s post on Facebook. He’s a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. But he was upset with Cubs’ late-season woes, questioning managerial decisions and the play of the team.

I remember when the Cubs’ only cheer late in the season was “wait ’til next year.” A World Series title means higher expectations every season, less satisfaction with a good season and, of course, more disappointment.

I read with interest some Iowa football fans who were upset with an 8-4 regular season, and a bowl victory that put the Hawkeyes at 9-4. That wasn’t good enough. It didn’t meet “their” expectations, so the satisfaction was low, the disappointment high.

Iowa loses a game it wasn’t expected to — and maybe shouldn’t have — and fans want Kirk Ferentz fired. On the spot.

Really?

Forbes recently published an article titled “Kirk Ferentz Has Led Iowa With Class and Character For Two Decades.” In it, author Tom Layberger wrote, “Sure, the administration wants to win as well as instill character. But change for the sake of change is not how things are done in Iowa City. Hayden Fry roamed the Kinnick Stadium sideline for 20 years, meaning the school has had two coaches in four decades. As Ferentz pointed out, Iowa has had only three athletic directors since 1970. None of that is by accident.”

“At this level we do have to win enough to remain at our jobs,” athletics director Gary Barta said in the article. “Because of (Ferentz’s) success combined with his integrity and his big picture about creating leaders and developing men into future leaders, that resonates. So, when you have a 4-8 season and the external pressures amplify that it is time for a change, you can stand strong and say, ‘No it’s not. We love this person, we love him as a coach, he’s very good at what he does.’ ”

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That’s realistic expectations and realistic satisfaction. Disappointment? Sure, but it’s tempered.

I consider myself a lifelong Bears fan. But I have to admit, the past several years my excitement waned — as did my interest. And my expectations. I blame it now on what I’ll call the Jay Cutler Effect. Why should I care if he doesn’t?

My oldest son now calls me a “fair-weather fan,” because I’m gleefully back on the Bears’ bandwagon.

Why do we, the “fans” of these teams, act this way. Why do you set high expectations — oftentimes unrealistic — only to be unsatisfied or, worse, disappointed?

As a writer and editor for most of my life, I’ve watched games from a little different perspective — unless it was the NFL and, of course, my now once-again beloved Bears.

Maybe we all need to look at these games for what they are ... games. Enjoy the moment, relish is the athleticism.

Now excuse me. It’s halftime and “my” Bears are up ONLY 6-3. Apparently they need me yelling at my TV.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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