There’s been a lot of negativity around here lately, and it’s understandable why that’s the case. Certainly, there are going to be naysayers everywhere you go—whether your team finishes 16-0 or 0-16, somebody is going to disagree with somebody else. When you’ve been .500 for a decade, however, and are on the brink of perhaps finishing that way for the third year in a row, there’s a lot of grey area.
That means there’s a lot of room for disagreement.
Oh, shoot, I’ll go ahead and say it. I want Jason Garrett fired. I have for months now. I guess that puts me in the "negativity" faction, if your world is so black and white that you want to see things that way. Maybe you disagree with me, or maybe you think that Jerry Jones is the problem. That’s fine, but it also doesn’t matter for the purposes of the discussion we’re about to have.
There’s been a lot of vitriolic language from both sides lately. We’re all guilty of it, even some of the front page writers; but I want to address one particular line of thinking that’s really irked me. It’s that awful phrase: "You must not be a true fan, then."
We hear it every time we even mention, "You know, I almost wish somebody would just go ahead and put this team out of its misery." It’s a poor way of looking at the world. I want to debunk it and hopefully restore a little bit of understanding between the two sides. Just because many of us find ourselves on two (or more) sides of one debate doesn’t mean we can’t be civil and intelligent about it. One of my favorite professors in college always said, "Reasonable minds can disagree." I want to believe him.
Firstly, I think it’s important to understand that fandom means different things to different people; we all got here for different reasons. One man might have started following professional football in 1960, when Clint Murchison and his new football team entered the league; thus, a fandom was born that would last 53 years. Some young girl may have grown up rooting for the Cowboys from New York City, New York, because that’s the team her father always rooted for.; thus, a fandom was born. Another might have lived in Dallas in the 1990s during his early, formative years; thus, a fandom was born (that young fan was me).
The point is, we all arrived here differently. What it means to be a fan is inherently different for every single one of us and, short of somebody who decides to completely abandon their fandom, nobody has the right to tell anybody else what that fandom should look like.
Now fast-forward to 12/22/2013. I don’t think Jason Garrett is the right man for this job. I think this team is wildly inconsistent at best and mediocre at worst. They seem to have no real identity, outside of the fact that they will always find a way to surprise you—sometimes with gross ineptitude, sometimes with plays that make you go "wow!"
Holding that belief means a few things for me. The first is that this team, if in the playoffs, is going nowhere fast. The second is that moving down the same road in future years won’t lead to much improvement. As such, I want nothing more out of this offseason than to find a coach who fans can trust to lead this team into what looks to be the a very crucial, troubled next few years.
And, yes, on a certain level, that means I want this team to show Jerry Jones exactly what it is: mediocre. I want there to be no room for doubt in the owner and GM’s eyes that Jason Garrett is not the right man for this job. That’s my opinion. It’s my prerogative to hold it and do with it what I want. You are completely free to disagree with my opinion and the conclusion I’ve reached because of it. In fact, I welcome that sort of discussion. I yearn for it, because if you disagree with me, I think we both have something to learn from one another.
But, for the love of Tom Landry’s ghost, do not tell me I’m not a "true fan." Or a "good fan." Or any other variance of that asinine, worthless way of looking at the world.
You see, life is full of complexities. The emotions of a football fan are inevitably one of those complexities. I can be glad the players I love rooting for played well and pulled one out against a division rival I love rooting against. I can also be concerned about the long-term repercussions: namely, that I have just enough hope to be heartbroken with a potential loss next week and that my ultimate scheme for getting the coach fired won’t work.
I can do this because it’s possible to hold two conflicting emotions at once. In fact, science tells us that’s a sign of maturity.
Allow me, if you will, to close with one example I’ve used before. Imagine that you are a parent (for those of you who aren’t parents, like me, or who simply can’t put yourself into that scenario, then just imagine you have a close friend). Now imagine that you have a child (or that you have a close friend) whom you love very much. That child (or friend) is in a very unhealthy relationship, and it’s tearing you apart to watch them go through it.
Imagine they tell you they’re on their way to have a discussion with their significant other that will result in either the continuance of the relationship or a breakup. You aren’t a bad parent (or friend) for rooting for a breakup, and you aren’t a bad parent (or friend) for hoping that discussion goes poorly for your child (or friend).
It’s called tough love. In a world full of complexities, we can’t afford to be simplistic with our emotions.
What’s the takeaway, here? Or what’s the tl;dr version for those who didn’t have the time to read the entire fanpost? It’s fine to disagree, and it’s fine to let those disagreements be known. But the fact that you can’t disagree with somebody without resorting to the argument that they’re not a "true" fan says more about your intelligence than it does their fandom or their argument.
So, please. Let’s keep this blog open to varied and intelligent discussions that we all can learn from as opposed to resorting to name-calling and putting everyone into a box just because it’s easier (read: lazier) to do.