Being a sports fan is a delicate balancing act between the mind, body and soul.
Maybe that sounds hippie-dippie and maybe I've lived in the Pacific Northwest too long, but as I get older I look back on things like the way I process sports. I can see how the kind of fan I am is different based on any number of situations. Day of the week. Type of game. Point in the season. After a big loss. After a big win.
I enter the 2015 Syracuse Orange football season aware of these differences and how they affect the way I see my expectations. I'm also aware of how they aren't all products of my emotions or even my intellect. It's bigger than that.
If we're just talking about what I'm rooting for, I'm rooting for Syracuse to go 12-0 this season. 15-0 if we take things to their logical conclusion. I will never enter a Syracuse game and not root for them to win. I will cheer and I will yell and I will pump my fist and I will jump up & down and I will high-five and I will punch things in support of this goal.
When I root, it's of my Body.
If we're just talking about what I'm hoping for, I'm hoping for Syracuse to go 6-6 or 7-5 this season. I'm not delusional. I know we're not going to be LSU, FSU, Clemson and Louisville. I know we're probably going to lose a few more games as well. Hopefully, we'll win the games we should win and pull out a few others that could go either way. I can't really quantify my hope, I just know it exists and wills itself forward.
When I hope, it's of my Soul.
If we're just talking about what I'm expecting, I expect Syracuse to go 4-8 this season. I mean, come on. Number don't lie. Maybe some of these guys got better, but, "win four more games than last year" better? That's a bit nutty. People are saying the right things but people always say the right things. Greg Robinson said all the right things. Don't mean anything until the ball is snapped and, if you crunch the numbers, they don't add up for the Orange this year.
When I expect, it's of my Mind.
I am oftentimes one of these and I am sometimes all of them.
Whatever I am in that moment, I do know one thing by now. None of those versions of me are wrong.
Oh sure, you might disagree with one of them. You might think The Body of my Syracuse fandom is a lunatic. You might think The Mind of my Syracuse fandom is a Debbie Downer. But neither are wrong. At least not yet. They can be challenged, provoked, prodded and disagreed with, but at no point can you call any of them incorrect in this moment. They all know as much information as you do. They just come from different version of me.
Take Brian's article on The H-Back Dilemma yesterday. Depending on which version of Syracuse Fan Me was reading it, I could have had a different reaction.
The Body is wary of looking to the past to try and explain the future. What's done is done. What happens in 2015 is not dependent on what came before it. Tim Lester has finally cracked the code. He must have. Just you wait...
The Soul understands how this could go both ways. We could see the Ashton Broyld breakout season we've all been waiting for. Or we could see another Ashton Broyld season where we wonder what could have been. We could see H-Back's soar against Central Michigan and bust against Florida State. We hope for the best but understand that's easier said than done.
The Mind looks at the data, the stats and the history and wonders "What will be different this year?" The offense will be simplified, we're told, but that's just chatter. H-Backs, Express Backs, Ten WRs, Riley Dixon, a sack of organic potatoes...you could throw anything you like out there but if the QB doesn't have time to make a play and isn't good enough to connect with his weapons, it really doesn't matter, does it?
Depending on where you are and how you're feeling, I'm guessing you vehemently disagree with at least one of those thought patterns. You might find the first one way-too-idealistic. You might find the second one too hopeful (or not hopeful enough). You might find the third one too pessimistic.
But again, none of them are wrong. You can't prove anything about any of them, one way or the other. They're just beliefs based on history, expectations and hopes.
So as the football season nears and the shape of the 2015 Syracuse Orange begins to form, I'd just like to throw it out there that all of our thoughts, predictions and expectations are correct and they are also all wrong. If you label an idea as "being negative," it's not as if "being positive" earns you more points. More likely, "being negative" is critical analysis and "being positive" is hopeful analysis. Or at least The Mind trying to make sense of what it understands.
There is no hierarchy when it comes to the mind, body and soul of the sports fan. Their disparate ways for seeing the same thing are all valid. You only get yourself into trouble when you start to value one over the other two. That's what leads to nasty tweets at recruits, sore feelings for those who go pro early and overzealous reactions to any kind of program criticism.
Scott Shafer recently said that he thinks the local media is looking for negative stories in order to sell newspapers. I've said my piece on that and I think the reality is that when things are bad, such as when you're coming off of a 3-9 season, The Mind tries to figure out how the next season will be better. And until it's shown the proof, it can't help but analyze the data it's been provided.
The Soul tries to find what's hopeful about the upcoming season.
The Body kicks that data in the ass and starts a "Let's Go Orange!" chant.
Correct or not, they're all valid.