The Beauty in Sports Fandom

On Sunday afternoon, playing in The Masters, one of golf’s four Major Tournaments, Jordan Spieth, the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world and my favorite athlete in the world, arrived at the 10th hole of Augusta National Golf Club with a five shot lead. Spieth, the defending champion at Augusta, had just birdied the final four holes of the front nine. He knew he was going to win the tournament. I knew he was going to win the tournament. Everyone knew.

He did not win the tournament.

Instead of winning his second straight green jacket (The Masters’ equivalent to a trophy), a feat that only three other men have accomplished, Jordan Spieth carded a quadruple-bogey on the 12th hole after bogeys on 11 and 12, and lost by three shots to the Englishman Danny Willett. This collapse is not only one of the worst ever at The Masters, but it is one of the worst and most shocking collapses in golf history. It is also the most crushing sports loss I have ever experienced as a fan.
When Spieth missed a birdie putt on the 17th hole that was his last hope to tie the lead, all possible positivity left my body. My face went white. I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. When I returned to my room after sitting on the quad in silence for a good 15 minutes, my outward dejection and bitterness was so apparent that my roommate immediately asked if everything was okay. As I explained why I was so upset, I am not kidding, I nearly began to weep. About the result of a godforsaken golf tournament.

Some may say that this reaction is unwarranted. Some may laugh at my attachment to a single golfer’s performance. But I will defend my love of the sport and of Jordan Spieth to the end. To me, seeing how affected I was by his collapse only served to strengthen my Spieth fandom. Instead of just having a normal Sunday afternoon, I instead embarked on an emotional journey similar to watching a powerful film or reading the end of a powerful book. Granted, in this case the journey was one that led to disappointment, but to me, it was a profound journey nonetheless.

This is what is so wonderful about sports. To be a real fan, one must stick with his or her team or player through thick and thin. Sure, when one’s favorite team or favorite player loses, it may be tempting to run away from caring to avoid being hurt again. But part of being a fan is allowing the losses to hurt in order to make the victories feel that much sweeter. Jordan Spieth’s loss at The Masters will go down in history as one of the worst collapses in the history of golf. But I know that the next time he wins a major, which could be as soon as June when he attempts to defend his title at the U.S. Open, he — and I — will be far happier about the win than we are sad about this loss.