Yesterday, there was a post from greaves4fr expressing complete frustration with our chairman, which led him to decide to stop supporting Spurs. But can you ever stop supporting Spurs? I mean can you really stop? Not sneak a peak at the scores, or the table or wonder what your former buddies at WHL and on this forum are doing? OK, so if you're twelve years old and decide another team is cooler and sexier, I guess you can switch allegiance. But what if you have 20, 30, 40 or 50 years invested in following one team. Can you really give it up?
First, supporting a team is part of your identity. Not only have you expended an extraordinary amount of your time, effort and money in following Spurs, you have done so very publicly -- the flag on your car, the banner outside your house, the T-shirts, not to mention your social circle, the members of which are either staunchly aligned in the same brotherhood or against you.
Second, your history is inextricably interconnected with the club (and 'club' is an important concept here). You remember vividly where you were when we were relegated, promoted, won the cup, when Harry joined, when Harry left. The magical moments -- and the really terrible ones -- are stored in your memory with a vividness that is unmatched by pretty much anything else in your life. (There's a scientific reason for this to do with the role of emotion in memory storage and consolidation, but that's beyond the scope of this article.)
Third, supporting a soccer team, like marriage, is a test of your character. Yes, it would be great if life were stress-free and you won all the time, but it isn't and you can't. There are ups and downs, highs and low and to expect otherwise is to believe in Superman and the Tooth Fairy (whom, my ITK tells me, has just signed a deal with Luis Suarez). We know that life is like that and in many ways it is our endurance and our commitment that is the most important part of being a supporter. We show up in the rain, snow, ice, -- even at the sports bar or living room couch, always with hope, sometimes with anxiety, but unfailingly with passion. It's a total commitment unlike any other. It's about as unconditional as a commitment can get. Chairmen come and go, players arrive and leave, results fluctuate. But you're still there.
I would argue it's easier to change religion and get divorced than it is to give up supporting the team that has been so meaningful to you.
I have spent a career observing people struggle to change the things in their lives that are really killing them, where there's no logical reason to continue with their actions, indeed where there are immediate compelling reasons why they should give them up -- and they still can't do it. Can you really deny your past? It would take something really dramatic and life-changing to even have a chance -- something like a sex change, disowning your family, or joining the federal witness protection program.
Giving up supporting Spurs (or any other team) is giving up. Giving up hope, commitment, and passion. Sure, we all get frustrated and think that the easiest way to end the pain is to simply stop. But your frustration is directly proportional to your passion. Giving up is to say you don't want to be so committed because it can be too painful. But what do you have if you don't have passion, hope and commitment? So, when you think of quitting, remember, this isn't about Spurs, it's about you.
And as a fan you should keep one thing in mind:
It's not what Spurs have given you, it's what you have given Spurs.
Can you really stop?