As I watched the end of the Green Bay-Seattle NFC Championship game and the unbelievable way it ended, a question came into my brain that has popped up before a couple of times. The question is this, “What is worse: getting blown out or losing at the last second?”
I am someone who has experienced both many times as the majority of sports watching has been following losing teams. I remember sitting there in 2003 watching the National League Championship Series, thinking that my Cubs were going to go to the World Series being three outs away and watching it all collapse. I’ve seen numerous blowouts and decisive losses, like the 2006 Super Bowl with the Bears. I’ve watched my hockey team blow three goal leads in the third period to lose and get blown out by seven, which takes real work in hockey. I’ve experienced losing in every which way you can imagine.
So there is my verdict and it is based solely on emotional anguish. I would rather get blown out ANY DAY than lose in the last second. Let me tell you why. Sometimes you just aren’t good enough. You just aren’t and if you get blown out, especially in a playoff game, as the blowout happens, then I think to myself, “Hey, at least we got here. I’m going to be thankful for that and toast my team for a good season.” I remember when the Cubs beat the Giants in 2002 to go to the MLB playoffs. They played Atlanta next and they had no chance. None. And they got destroyed. But as I watched the games, I was just thankful they got there. No stress. No crying. No wailing. No anguish.
But when you get beat at the last second, holy cow is there anguish. What really makes it worse is the feeling that you were the better team or that you had it and just slipped out of your grasp. I’ve heard from a ton of Packer fans who keep talking how they were the better team last Sunday yet still lost. It is just the worst. And to make it all more destructive, you keep playing the game over and over and over in your mind. If this had happened, then we would have happened. If this hadn’t occurred, victory would be ours.
I think back to two very different Packer Bears game over the past year. The first was the last game of last season on December 29th, 2013. The Packers were the better team but the Bears were leading and had a chance to sweep the Packers for the first time in a long time. We all know what happened. On fourth down with 48 seconds left, the Bears idiot safety decided to jump a route instead of covering Randall Cobb, who caught the winning touchdown. All I could think of was “why” and “what if” and that game bothered me for days. Weeks even. It was anguish. I especially loved reliving it last spring when the play was played over and over and over prior to the Men’s Choir concert. Thanks Kevin Bird. J
This year, the Packers blew the Bears out of the water. Destroyed them. No anguish. We weren’t a good team and the Packers were better. The games came and went and there was no dwelling, no replaying plays in my head over and over, no avoidance of sports radio, newspapers, or sports websites. Life went on fairly easily.
I know that many of you would rather have it the other way, would rather at least have a chance in a game, even if it ends up tearing your heart out like the bad guy in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” But for me, the question “What if?” is the worst question ever because there is no explanation and really, no relief. It just hangs there, forever, and haunts like a ghost.
Of course, in the end, it is just a game. There are so many other important things to worry about that cause us pain and anguish and so many other things that cause us joy and happiness. It is just a game. Right? Right?
May God be with you this week and always.