Fandom in all shapes and forms come with a price. For many of us this price is paid with a live or die relationship with our team. When the team is winning and points are being scored, hope and joy are ever present. As the team struggles, optimism becomes tough to come by and winter depression rears its ugly face. Unfortunately, the 2014 BYU Cougars have shown both sides of the coin and will continue to provide bi-polar results for the fans.
Four games into the season the highs had reached the national media and the New Year's Day bowl games were suddenly in play. The next four games brought lows that some have compared with the dark ages of the Gary Crowton era.
How do we deal with this turmoil? Fans have many different ways of coping with disappointment and there are definitely extremes on each end of the spectrum.
But does that make one a better fan than another?
Of course not, it means that the fans are passionate about their teams and have invested more than just a few dollars into the program. Families invest years rooting, listening, and watching their team. The players may change, but the passion remains the same. Many have gone to games for generations and continue to approach each game day with excitement and enthusiasm. Others choose to take the grumpy approach, but still turn on the game come kickoff time.
This year the extremes have been exaggerated a bit as a vocal group has been calling for the firing of one or more coaches and a less vocal group has been set on the fact that the players are on the field and the coaches can only do so much.
So where is the truth, and where should a fan fall?
It is hard to say, but most of the time it falls somewhere in the middle. However, fans rarely fall in the middle. Over the years I have found myself closer to both extremes than I would like, but this year has been an eye opening experience. Fans and former players are divided and public in their support or frustration of the coaches and the direction of the program. In fact, some fans even have called for a boycott of the final games in a desperate move to change the status quo.
As ridiculous as that sounds, the frustration of these fans has reached the level where they believe that is how to make sure of a change. That is what fandom is all about, channeling your passion into your team. After having a discussion with a fan regarding the boycott, I realized that he is just as passionate as some fans that can see no flaws with the program. He is just showing his differently than others. Others show it with open letters or frustrated emails. Twitter has become a breeding ground for clashes between the divided fan-base.
Is this what we want as fans? To watch and dissect a football game in order to present our point of view to the opposing side, which won't likely change their views anyways?
Amazingly the answer is yes. Without discussion and disagreement life would be boring. Without passion the program would be dead. Disagreement doesn't have to be division. A fan can still support the program and be frustrated with aspects of it. Believe it or not a fan might see those same frustrations as positives (ex. firesides) with neither fan being incorrect. BYU has a tremendous following that is vocal and invested. No fan can, or should, judge the others. Disagreement does not mean division, it may just mean that fans have different approaches to what we all want as the same end result. When the fans stop the discussions, apathy will set in and the program will be in trouble. Delusion and reality will drive the fans, making the BYU Cougars relevant and allowing for a storied program to continue to draw out emotions in all of us.
Whether you sit on the side of "Fire Bronco" or you plan on petitioning for a Howell raise, please don't lose your passion! We get 13 games a year to watch these young men pour their heart and soul into this game for our enjoyment. Come January 15th we will be begging for BYU football to be at our doorstep once again. Eight months with no football will breed excitement and optimism and then we will go through it all again. Through thick or thin, through change or the status quo, we have paid the price and will make ourselves be heard. And we wouldn't have it any other way.