Fandom in a time of turmoil: a how-to guide to dealing with the 2017 Ticats

So here you are, Ticats fan. You find yourself adrift in a sea of negativity and turmoil, wondering what to do next. You have never experienced this pain; all you know is moderate success. You might not remember, or have chosen to block out, the run from 2003-08 that saw the Ticats make the playoffs just once and win a total of 25 games over six years, with nine of those wins coming in one year. You are more accustomed to the 2009-16 edition of the team, that one has missed the playoffs just once and been to four East Finals and two Grey Cups. For you, championship appearances, playoff wins and games mattering after Labour Day are the norm, not 0-6 records and 60-1 drubbings.

So for you, this is uncharted territory or perhaps you had your memory erased by one of the neuralizer from Men In Black and you need to know how to deal with all this losing.

Well good news, because I am here to help. Here is a how-to guide to dealing with a team in chaos.

1. Find happiness in the little things

So your team sucks, but it is OK, because you can still find some happiness in the small things. You can be happy with the play of newcomers like Jalen Saunders and Richard Leonard or how it hasn’t really rained on days the team hosts a game or how that 60-1 loss occurred on the road and not at home. The macro-level stuff will still eat at you, but it is the micro-level stuff that can still bring a wee bit of happiness.

2. Develop a thick skin and a sense of humour

When your team sucks, people are going to crack jokes at their expense. It is the nature of sports fandom. But don’t get upset, play along and grow a thick skin. Like, by now, Roughriders fans probably have skin like Luke Cage and you can be like that too! When someone makes an “Owen” joke – as in 0-and-6 – don’t get mad, laugh and play along. Humour can sometimes be the best defense against trash talk, so while it might pain you to do so, make a joke at your team’s expense. You can’t change what is happening, so you might as well embrace it and have a little fun with it.

3. Think of all the free time you will have

Watching football takes up a lot of time, and if you are reading this, you not only watch all the games, but likely spend a few hours a week talking football on social media and watching the behind-the-scenes videos on the team’s and league’s websites. But when your team stinks, there is no pressure to pay that much attention. You can still watch games or a video or two, but you do not have to immerse yourself in the day-to-day goings-on as much as you would if the team was winning. You can still be a diehard fan if you diversify your interests — as an example, I have seen a lot more of the summer movies this year than I did last year — and do things you might put off until after the season.

4. You can watch games pressure-free

Watching games when they matter is fun, do not get me wrong, but there is also something relaxing about watching a game when there is no pressure on whether the team will win or lose. You can stroll around the stadium and take in a lot of the great amenities at Tim Hortons Field rather than focus intently on the play on the field. You can still cheer and boo and be rowdy, but you can do it with a much more relaxed attitude, like you would a pre-season game.

5. Find alcohol

If all else fails, you will at least have booze.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.