The Sunderland Flu
I feel sick.
This has happened to me before, this sickness.
These are the symptoms: a feeling of optimism, followed by elation, followed by anxiety, followed by rage, followed by a sour stomach, followed by depression. I wish I knew how to manage this sickness, because it seems to come over me whenever Sunderland play lately. Or when they concede a goal in the last minute of stoppage time against Pompey. And I can`t stop watching Sunderland. I honestly can`t. It`s like a compulsion.
I am an addict.
What`s that they say? If you do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, then you are insane. I`m starting to think this applies here. I desperately want to have a sit-down with a lifelong Sunderland supporter who has the perspective of decades and ask him/her how they do it? How does one maintain hope, or support, or any sense of optimism in the face of so much mediocrity? All the false dawns? All the relegation battles?
How should I be a Sunderland supporter? Why should I be a Sunderland supporter? I don`t have to do this to myself anymore. So why should I?
Why does anyone give their time, money, and energy to such a cause. Are we, as Sunderland supporters, going to eternally tilt at windmills or will there come a day when all that effort pays off?
I have a friend here in LA who works at Tiffany & Co. One afternoon he waited on Peter Kenyon and Bruce Buck. Making small-talk, he asked them what they did for a living and Bruce mentioned that they worked for Chelsea. Eric - my friend - brightened and mentioned that he had a friend - me - who was a Sunderland supporter. Kenyon chuckled and Bruce said, "Yeah, Sunderland are like the Milwaukee Brewers of the Premiership."
For those of you who aren`t familiar with American Baseball, let me clarify. Milwaukee: a medium-sized town in the state of Wisconsin. The Brewers: a small-market team laboring away in Milwaukee. Solid support. Nice club. Perennial strugglers.
Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez: these players will never play for Milwaukee.
Is this what I have to look forward to? A life of supporting the Milwaukee Brewers of England? I know I`m asking a lot of questions this time 'round, but I`m looking for suggestions. And I`m serious: how do I continue to support a team this dedicated to dashing my hopes and maintain my health and sanity? Because after the last three matches, I`m back to the old worries.
I`m sending out an SOS. I welcome your thoughts.