Dealing with sport when it goes wrong

July 19th, 2021 | Written by Rob Staton

Apologies if it’s self-indulgent to write about myself in consecutive articles. Especially when I’m supposed to be taking a break. Yet I’m home alone for the next three nights and I had some things to say and this, really, is the only platform I currently have.

As I noted in my previous piece, I feel like I’ve had my fair share of disappointment as a fan. The thing that truly ignited my interested in English football was a crushing defeat in a huge game for a local team. That moment, as difficult as it was, ultimately sent me on a path to becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster. It’s a bittersweet moment with hindsight, yet in the immediate aftermath there was only bitterness.

Without experiencing the pain, would I have ever truly felt the impact of what sport is capable of? Would I have thought to myself, ‘this is what I want to do for the rest of my life?’

We all treat our teams differently. For some the perspective of it all just being a game wins through. I remember doing a podcast with Robbie once where he mentioned the ease with which he gets over a Sunday Seahawks loss. As my wife will happily tell you, I’ve been know to be a real misery guts for days after a bad or unexpected loss.

The Super Bowl defeat to New England was uniquely challenging. It produced a range of emotions. Disbelief. Heartbreak. Frustration. Anger. Sadness.

I remember, three days later, forcing myself to watch the final drive again with my wife — explaining through tears (she wasn’t really interested and was simply allowing me a venting session) what had gone wrong.

I recall listening to Brock & Salk on the Monday and Tuesday and it being some of the best radio I’ve ever heard. They captured the moment superbly, with callers coming on to express their own experience of that game. It felt like strength in numbers, a radio support group. Yet everyone was also trying to work things out in their own mind — what had actually happened? How was it allowed to happen? And what now?

As silly as it sounds, I didn’t really get over that game until 2018. The reset for the team afforded me a personal reset from that moment too. I suspect some will never get over it, while others moved on quite quickly. As I said, we’re all different.

So why am I banging on about this?

It’s that England game last week. Eight days on, I just can’t stop thinking about it. On Sunday night, while watching highlights of the Open Golf, all I could do was keep looking at the time and imagining at what stage the game against Italy was at the previous week.

‘We were 45 minutes away from being European Champions’ was a thought that popped into my head at about 8:50pm.

I worked through in my mind how I wish I’d enjoyed the tournament more. That I was so ‘in the moment’ that it kind of passed me by. Now I missed the nightly games, or the excitement of anticipating the next England match. I wish I’d had a blow out after the semi-final against Denmark to celebrate, rather than keeping the champagne on ice for Sunday (it’s still on ice now).

Every time I see an England flag defiantly remaining outside a house or shop, or a crate of Bud Light donning the players’ image (the official Beer of the England team apparently, even though I doubt many Brits drink it). Every time this song comes on the radio because it was used as a bed for one of the TV broadcasters.

All the memories flood back about what could’ve been.

If they’d won we’d still be partying now. Instead, I’m stuck in this melancholy which feels even worse than the Super Bowl loss. The fact is it took England 55 years to return to a major final and at 37, I’m starting to wonder if it’ll ever happen again in my lifetime. Was this the only chance?

Yet strangely I love the fact that only sport can really make me feel this way. And that very few people I know will be able to relate to the sadness of losing ‘a game’ — yet I know those people are out there, going through this. And that people similarly would’ve had the same feeling as I had after the New England game.

‘You’re taking this too seriously’ is a point of view, I suppose. But to those of us so invested in this, you really wouldn’t want it any other way.

Occasionally I wonder if I need a reality check and some perspective over what is actually important. And don’t get me wrong — it’s family first all the way. Yet having something in your life that makes you feel truly alive — even if it means suffering more than celebrating — who could ask for more than that?

64 Responses to “Dealing with sport when it goes wrong”

  1. DriveByPoster says:

    Hi Rob,

    Apart from the University of Life, I am in no way qualified to comment on this but I would say that it sounds as if you need a hobby that takes you away from sport for a short time each week. Start a small garden or something else that engages you. Once you have some other thing to think about, sport won’t be quite the all-consuming emotional turmoil that it obviously is at the moment. I’m not saying drop the blog but just find yourself a distraction that isn’t sport.

  2. Ashish says:

    When hawks are not doing good, I switch my attention to cricket. After few days, back to NFL/Seahawks. 2014 season still haunts me, i even change the channel when some commentators definitely bring that up during game just can’t take it what even after 7/8 years.
    I feel for you and I’m sure you get over it someday soon. Hang in there

  3. Bigsteviej says:

    Ugh. Sorry, Rob.

    Having been on both sides of this, in my experience the pain of losing in a championship game stays with one much longer the the glow of winning. Unfortunately it’s just the way it is.

  4. Philip says:

    Hey Rob,

    Long time first time. I love this latest post. You’re an incredibly sincere person, it seems to me, over years of reading your blog, and I appreciate hearing about your personal experience of “fandom” in the abstract.

    It’s a really interesting phenomenon — being a fan. And I grew up a die-hard Seahawks and Mariners fan, then in college I totally walked away from sports and had no interest until I hit 30. I suddenly decided to watch a football again after years of not caring. I was living in Atlanta at the time and I wondered if I could just root for the Falcons. I started watching a Falcons game and immediately realized that if I was watching football, I only wanted to see the Seahawks. A giant hand grabbed me from the past and dragged me back to Seattle — and by the end of that game, I was more die-hard than ever.

    Some people talk about “choosing” who to root for. If you’re anything like me, it was never a choice. And it doesn’t matter how badly the Mariners and Seahawks play and how many years they don’t make the playoffs and how many players and managers and owners they employ that I don’t like. Despite anything you can throw at me — it just feels like I can’t root for other teams. It’s like family, except the faces change. “The Team” becomes this intangible entity, symbolizing and embodying the the thing we root for. I like to think that a team is more than just a brand/company.

    One very quick departure: I was watching some interviews with Ken Griffey Jr. and the journalist asked him about the prospect of being traded to the Yankees and Ken was so disgusted. He gagged. The fact that hating the Yankees was a given (for a lifetime Mariner) — that it is just part of the nature of the universe of baseball — shows that sense of the Myth that lives in sport. And it’s part of what makes me yearn for the age when great players mostly stayed with their teams — and they became a long part of the identity and spirit and legacy of the team. I would just love to see a player in today’s game openly in the media say, “Ugh, I would never play for the Yankees. I hate the Yankees.” I would just get a kick out of that. Just, the opposite of the “businesspeople” attitude that most players have. It’s such an enigma to me that fans are infinitely more loyal than players are. It makes incredible sense — as players are simply people with jobs — but it still strikes me as odd that players can move on so quickly to a new team, even a rival, and suit up on the other side a few days later. A fan could never do this.

  5. Big Mike says:

    Appreciate that you’re using us/this forum to express yourself and I suspect, try to work through crushing disappointment. As you mentioned, everyone is different and I for one cannot watch Super Bowl 49 or Super Bowl 40 for that matter as watching the Hawks lose those games is simply too painful. I did accept the loss in 49 eventually because the Pats won the game fair and square and that was NOT the case with the stealers in 40. I will never, ever “get over it” when it comes to that game.
    A very good point about sports making you feel alive, even if it’s via the pain of a loss.

  6. Jordan says:

    The Kraken expansion draft simulator on Cap Friendly is so damn fun. Just an awesome thing to play around with as an armchair sports fan.

    https://www.capfriendly.com/expansion-draft/seattle

    Deep roster, plenty of cap space left over, not tied to any bad contracts, and a surplus of quality defensemen should be very very attainable. Short of having any superstars, it is a pretty good squad.

  7. no frickin clue says:

    I’m reminded a bit here of how Bill Murray probably felt when he was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in ‘Lost in Translation’ in 2004. He lost to Sean Penn for ‘Mystic River’. Being considered among the top 5 in one’s craft for an entire year is awesome – but it’s not winning. On the cusp, and then getting denied.

    Put yourself in his shoes. Bill Murray, sitting among the Hollywood elite in 2004, for the first time ever. He probably asked himself, when ever is he going to make it back to this point again? He’s a comedian by trade. What he normally does, very crudely speaking, is considered low art. Steve Martin had a similar career arc and is probably taken more seriously as an actor, and yet he’s never even been nominated for an Oscar. When is Murray going to get another script that has real Oscar chops to it? How many years does he have left for this to be possible?

    The difference of course is that England doesn’t depend on the whimsy of voters to reach the pinnacle of soccer. On any given match day, a match starts 0-0 and if they play well enough they can advance. So keep hope alive Rob. Qatar is around the corner.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Funnily enough, on the topic of Lost in Translation, I watched that film in 2005 and was mesmerised as a 20-year-old. Then I watched it again in the last 2-3 years as an adult and thought what a load of pretentious bollocks. It’s funny how you change with age.

      Off topic/on topic I absolutely loved the life aquatic and everything Wes Anderson has done apart from Fantastic Mr Fox.

      • no frickin clue says:

        My filmmakers of choice are the Coen Brothers. I recently rewatched Raising Arizona and it holds up really well. Sometimes they get a little too weird for me, but Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, Big Lebowski and O Brother Where Art Thou are just outstanding IMHO.

  8. Hawksorhiking? says:

    Like my username implies, I have many outdoor hobbies. The loss to New England gave me a chance to reset and focus even more on those on game Sundays. For me the SB loss to Pittsburgh was way worse than the New England loss. The NE loss definitely does not taint the win vs Denver in any way, shape, or form for me. I was watching at a work party and almost got fired over it. I’m not sure when I got over it, but it might’ve been after the NE game. Anyways kinda rambling, but I love the highs and lows of sports, even if the lows hurt so badly.

  9. Isaac says:

    The fact that you took the time to write something has me jazzed. While your frustrated, I’m excited. Here’s why. Your creativity and next level thinking has made me a better fan. Seahawks or football all together. When you post something I come running. Just know we are here for you. Let’s have some fun and talk football!!!

  10. Roger Davis says:

    Rob, I’ll never say to you: ‘You’re taking this too seriously.’

    In my humble, respectful view you’ve chosen a path, that is guaranteed to bring moments of great joy but also guaranteed to bring moments of great despair.

    Much of the day to day JOB of your path is learning, understanding and being able to relate to others the implications of your spectacular depth of knowledge of FACTS about the sliver of the Universe which you have a near encyclopedic knowledge of. The depth of your commitment explains why you have trouble dealing with people with massive opinions backed up by tiny knowledge.

    But besides having to suffer the fools (I do not use ‘fools’ as an insult but merely to indicate those who dogmatically state what they can’t back up with facts) you also have to suffer the Anguish of Defeat (but all too infrequently) the Joy of Victory.

    The Victory and the Defeat happen totally independent on any of the knowledge, analysis or emotional attachment you have and also are independent of the work you produce. So you being particularly well prepared, or engaged, for a specific game is irrelevant to its outcome.

    You’ve been able to earn a living following your love of two games, with two different shaped balls, and educate, entertain and engage so many people. You have a gift. Personally, you’ve a gift I don’t ever want to lose. My life is better because the work of your passion improves my knowledge and understanding of something I love.

    As a 75 year old, I think the way they describe people like you in this era is: “You are an influencer.”

    That is a gift and at times a curse. Go where your heart takes you. Hopefully, that will be the way which allows me to be a rider on the train you drive.

    • CO_Hawk says:

      I whole heartedly agree Roger. We often don’t see the circle of influence we have on others. I too have learned a greater appreciation for the game of football and Seahawk football in particular (which I have been a die hard fan since 1983 with the Hawks upset win over Miami in the playoffs). Rob’s knowledge of draft evaluation and roster construction is impressive to say the least.

      I too have wondered why we get so emotionally high and low with the wins and losses of our teams. It always felt to me as if being a faithful fan would some day be rewarded by the football Gods and the sweeter that victory would be. The more downtrodden your team, the better your reward would be some day. My son and I watched the 2005 NFC Conference Championship Game in Seattle and it was the best fan experience of my life. My son would say the same. The energy in the stands that day could still be felt hours after the game as if our bodies were still resonating at the same frequency as 60,000 other fans. Our faith was rewarded that day followed by what seemed inevitable for every Seahawk fan. A lose in the Super bowl in what seemed to be the worst way possible until proven wrong nine years later. Still nobody could take that NFC Championship away from us.

      As devastating as those losses in the Super bowl were, the high from the 2013 Super bowl game was almost magical in its final fulfillment of a dream for so many fans. It came from a team that no one had any reasonable hope to expect had the audacity to pull it off. They were up against the great Peyton Manning and the highest scoring offense of all time! Our quarterback was a 2nd year guy drafted in the 3rd round who most thought was too short to even play the position. But this is what makes sports so great as your faith can be rewarded at anytime with the most unexpected of outcomes and with a script almost no one ever sees coming. There is every chance that England will win a World or Euro Cup and it is likely when you least expect it.

      I am not sure if the Seahawks can win another championship with this roster and this coaching staff. It might take the next or several more iterations before we see it again but I have faith it will happen and likely when we least expect it making it even more glorious and fulfilling! Keep the faith Rob and keep using your gift. We are all better for it.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Thank you Roger. You’ve no idea how much a message like that means to me.

  11. BobbyK says:

    I was at SB XL. I was in the last row in the upper level of the Seahawks end zone (painted). I know the magic of seeing my teams logo painted on a Super Bowl field as I walked into Ford Field, I know the anguish of seeing the D-Jack “push off” from my seat; the Sean Locklear “hold” and when Hines ward caught a pass from another WR, etc.

    As low as SB 49 got me (they would have been an official mini-dynasty), I was still young enough in SB XL where I still took that stuff even more seriously. I still took it too seriously in SB 49, but some life perspective helped me not take it as seriously (though it still sucked).

    I hear ya though, Rob. Take some time, recharge, write, whatever… Thanks for this blog!!!

    • BobbyK says:

      We all have our different teams. I love the Seahawks, but the next crushing blow for me because I’m 48 years old was the 1983/84 Orange Bowl. That was BS. Even when the Miami coach died, I didn’t care or feel bad. I hated that game that bad. One team got to play a bowl game in their home stadium with a loss, the other played to win when the game would have been tied when they would have possibly been considered the greatest team of all-time (even with the tie). It was such BS.

  12. Albert Bryan Butler says:

    Great read.

    For me personally, XL was way harder on me than the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. XL made me feel cheated and the obnoxious Steelers fans made it worse. Hindsight has shown me that a much bigger disservice was done to them than the Seahawks with how defensive it made them. I still can’t believe that Levy apologized. I can respect that.

    Oh, by the way. Geno Atkins has been cleared medically.

    https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/07/19/report-geno-atkins-cleared-for-all-football-activity-is-expected-to-take-visits-soon/

  13. Erik in MT says:

    Rob, being a Hawks fan and and English soccer fan can be brutal. I share the pleasure/pain of Hawks Fandom with you.

    Although I’ve called the Hawks my team since the mid 1990’s, my true fandom truly started in 2003 and has intensified since about 2010 when I married my wife (who is supportive but doesn’t care about football at all). Blogs like yours really fueled the flames of my Seahawks obsession.

    I have noticed that the biggest disappointments for me have come when I have the highest expectations compared to the seasons outcome. The joy is great when you make yourself vulnerable, but the despair of the lows is virtually unbearable.

    As I ponder this, I’ve found a lot of joy as a fan over the years.

    2010 was joyous even though the Bears destroyed us in the Divisional round, low expectations + high hopes for future +beastquake memory

    2012 was joyous with Russell developing plus team dominating despite crushing Divisional loss after 20 point comeback vs Falcons.

    2013 was my pinnacle of sports joy.

    2014 was painful of course, but my expectations were actually lowered because we were super lucky to make the Super Bowl after our miraculous comeback in the NFCCG. I still rewatch that Packers comeback all the time (especially last 5 min of 4th quarter plus OT. )Don’t get me wrong. I suffered like everyone (couldn’t sleep for a couple of weeks)but the pain has faded over the years and helped me re-enjoy 2013 even more.

    2015-2017 pretty painful overall falling short of potential and seeing dynasty window closed.

    Still joyous individual games that I still rewatch from that period

    2015 vs Steelers 39-30
    2016 @ New England revenge game
    2017 SNF vs Eagles domination

    2018- present hopes of reset to re-emerge and disappointment in realizing the best Era in Seahawks football might be ending soon but rewatching the individual games that help me re-live the joy.

    2018 beating Mahones and Chiefs with Russell’s moonballs and Carson running over people

    2019 beating SF on road in OT with Clowney’s pure domination

    2020 final drive vs Minnesota after stopping Vikes on 4th and 1

    I guess if I were to summarize it, I’ve been able to enjoy being a fan by lowering myexpectations a little and remembering there is only 1 Superbowl champ each year and 31 teams falling short. I’ve found joy in each season, even if it only comes from individual games, or players achievements, or even just memorable plays. This has helped maximize my experience and will count on it to keep me sane during the inevitable rebuilding years that will happen sooner or later.

    Thanks for these last two posts Rob. They have allowed a lot of reflection for my personal journey as a sports fan.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Thanks Erik, I’m glad people don’t mind me writing about this

      • Erik in MT says:

        A side note: I can only love one team. Having a team for each sport would be too exhausting. I’m loving watching the NBA finals and just enjoying the games without any real motivations.

    • Big Mike says:

      “2014 was painful of course, but my expectations were actually lowered because we were super lucky to make the Super Bowl after our miraculous comeback in the NFCCG”

      I agree with this Erik though for me I would say it made the eff up at the end of 49 more tolerable rather than having lowered expectations going in.

      • Erik in MT says:

        More tolerable is a better way putting I think. At least I made it there after the 2 weeks of despair.

        I basically felt grateful that night of the NFCCG and didn’t carry any expectations to win the Superbowl during the two weeks before Sunday. I, of course, got caught up in the game and started to dream at the end of the 1st half when we tied the game. I began seeing the trophy in sight and the back to back Championship opportunity.

        Devastation took over after that play, and my two weeks of despair began….

  14. Dave1401 says:

    Hey Rob,

    I’m an Irishman and I have to admit I took a great deal of satisfaction in your suffering last week 🙂

    That said I just want to say I really enjoy it when you write really personally about the Seahawks/sports. It’s something very different from the usual stuff you read on sports blogs. I identify totally with the way you’re feeling. More please!

    Thanks,
    Dave

  15. swedenhawk says:

    For me it was the Nuggets upsetting the SuperSonics in the first round of the 1994 playoffs. Still hurts.

  16. GerryG says:

    Often times I think to myself what it would be like to be a Boston fan. Sure there was a near century of Red Sox misery, but that came crashing down and has completely disappeared. During that the Bruins and Celtics were historically great at times.

    Then the Patriots put together the greatest, longest running franchise run seen in any sport.

    I suppose they had their heartbreaking moments along the way, but I cant imagine what it must be like to experience that much sporting elation.

  17. cha says:

    Tom Pelissero
    @TomPelissero
    #Rams RB Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles while training, per source.

    Brutal blow for L.A., which loses its leading rusher from last season a week before camp begins.
    7:25 AM · Jul 20, 2021·

    • Bigsteviej says:

      Tough break for the Rams (and for Akers, obviously). They’ve got Darrell Henderson behind Akers, but not much else. They have a little bit of cap room to work with. Will have to see if they sign one of the available veteran RB’s.

  18. James Cr. says:

    Huge Vancouver Canucks fan here. If anyone here knows their history they will understand the pain. Funny thing is that I often think if they ever actually win the Stanley Cup, I will somehow miss the expected misery of never winning it. Don’t know if that makes sense? Does the fact that England has actually won the World Cup make it easier Rob?

    • GerryG says:

      Yeah…

      F’ing Luongo in Game 6. Still have not recovered from that ten years later.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Not personally, because it was in 1966 and I suppose in my life they haven’t won anything, so people my age (or 60 and younger) don’t really feel like we shared in that moment.

      I hear you on the Canucks. I watched all of those playoff games having previously lived in Vancouver and although my disappointmen won’t match your own, what a massive missed opportunity.

  19. Rob Staton says:

    Might be doing a stream today. Stay tuned.

  20. kevin mullen says:

    I still can’t watch that NE/SEA Superbowl game. I refuse to.

    • Chase Cash says:

      That’s in the suppressed memory bank for me.

    • Sean-O says:

      Same for me. I have yet to watch any part of it (except for the clip at the end that rears it’s head every so often).

    • Mick says:

      For me that game ends with Kearse’s magical catch.

    • Henry Taylor says:

      I cant imagine a more painful moment in sport. We could win 10 superbowls in my lifetime and I still wont get over it.

    • GerryG says:

      Also have not watched, aside from the last minute.

      We cant get over it, I guess maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised (and judgmental?) of the players who never got over it?

      • Big Mike says:

        Though he’s unfortunately got a lot of other “stuff” on his mind,. Richard Sherman did call to say he agrees with you on this.

    • OlyHawksFan says:

      Nope. Never.

      I have watched highlights from the Championship game…a lot (similar to what someone said above). The best way to enjoy it, imo, is the ‘Inside the NFL’ production. Link below. Earl and Kam bashing people. Beastmode rumbling. It’s a really good watch.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vpk1OmFxdyU

    • uptop says:

      I watched the play, it was the right call, excecuted somewhat poorly but it was more of a good play by browner and butler

  21. Jazzy19 says:

    Hi Rob,
    Thank you for pouring out your feelings. Sport truly is ups and downs, way up and way down. I find it interesting that England (soccer) and New England (football) brought 2 extreme lows…. Glad there’s no other “Englands” around.

  22. KennyBadger says:

    Rob, I really enjoyed this article because I’ve gone through the same thought process watching this team. Passion is a double edged sword but I’m glad yours has led to a site like this. I look forward to the coming season once again. Cheers 🍻!

  23. Rusty in Spokane says:

    Yup, you’re completely correct, this is why sport can be transformative, and why we all get into it! I can only say me too regarding most of the comments above. Keep up your awesome work, Rob. You remain the best 12’s blogger out there, even if I’m hoping some of your predictions aren’t accurate for the Seahawks coming up….though I am forced to agree with most of your conclusions.

    Regardless, I’ll still remain stuck on the Seahawks, as such is the nature of things! 😉

  24. bk matty says:

    love ya mate but it really brought me joy to see England lose. It really is impressive how all over the globe no one roots for England, I mean not even the rest of the UK wants them to win. It is really impressive.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I don’t think it’s impressive. I think it’s bitter and sad.

      And people in England couldn’t give a toss.

    • Mick says:

      I’m not from England but I always found their style different and interesting, and I was never unhappy to see them win. I’d be glad to see England or Netherlands winning a major competition, as their standing in football is not properly reflected by their results. And I hope people have greater joys in life than seeing England (or any other team, for the matter) lose.

  25. Sea Mode says:

    Just saw the alert for the livestream pop up on my phone. You really used that pic for the thumbnail… 😂

  26. brendon says:

    As usual, great piece of writing Rob. Thanks for opening up and putting this out there. I definitely identify with these thoughts and emotions. Sport is fun to watch and it is even better with a community, even if that community is mostly online.

    Cheers and Go Hawks!

  27. Hawksorhiking? says:

    Well at least Britain took the Gold in Mountain Biking in a dominant performance. https://youtu.be/NRkEVX4EuQo