Rooting for the Cleveland Browns requires resilience
By Mike Lukas
Being a fan of the Cleveland Browns is not an easy thing, it requires resiliency through the bad times and also through more bad times.
Losing 31 out of 32 times can be traumatic to even the most die hard football fans — which describes anyone who has loved the Cleveland Browns.
True Browns backers have suffered decades of ego damage as a result of their ongoing association with this chronically inept NFL organization. Nowadays an odd-shaped sore on your lip, a suspicious stain on your pants and any Browns gear worn on your body are equally humiliating at social gatherings.
It’s also psychologically unhealthy having to repeatedly explain to groups of doubters that the Browns haven’t even started year three of their four-year rebuild and that someone entirely different will be picking their players from now on. All these negative moments and uneasy feelings pile up inside like dirty socks but ignoring them only forces everyone to get used to the stink.
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Time for Browns fans to start considering a little something called ‘resilience’.
The American Psychological Association says:
"“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress…It means, “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.”"
Resilience is fantastic.
It’s a turn-around mentality that would be incredibly helpful to Browns fans right about now, given the almost twenty years of disappointments and unkept promises they’ve had to endure. Sure, they’ve had their orange and brown hearts repeatedly broken and their belief in ‘next year’ continually mocked, but from the sound of this ‘resilience’ stuff, none of that has to make a darn bit of difference.
Browns fans have been under a lot of stress.
CBS News, reporting on psychologist Meg Jay’s new book, “Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience”, says that chronic stress:
"“can have an adverse effect on adults and children, including depression, anxiety and PTSD”."
Sadly, there are way worse things than being a Browns fan that humans must endure. Still, that doesn’t mean anyone should underestimate the amount of emotional damage that incompetent trades, useless draft picks, unimaginative play calls and hopeless game strategies can cause to the psyche of a fan base.
As a result, Browns fans are damaged goods, but they don’t have to be.
When it comes to resilience, Jay says:
"“The good news is, it’s not a trait. Nobody’s born with it or not born with it. Resilience is less about who you are and more about what you do. What we know about resilient people is they talk about themselves as fighters and they tend to find the strengths they have in themselves or in their families or in their communities and they use those to push back against their circumstances and get themselves to a better place.”"
There are no tougher fighters than Browns fans.
Just ask the Steelers fans that used to get pummeled by old school Dawg Pounders. That was back when Cleveland’s giant Municipal stadium served as both the Browns football field and the fans’ boxing ring whenever those hated three-river-rivals dared to show their silly bumblebee colors in town.
Time for a different fight now.
How about we battle the pessimism that Browns fans are feeling these days. It’s creating a lot of online uncertainty about whether the team will effectively use the upcoming draft and free agency to set themselves up for a 2018 comeback. Browns fans would do well to chug a warm tankard of resilience to wash away all those well-founded doubts and fears.
So would the players.
If you think it’s tough to admit you root for the Browns, imagine having to admit to people that you actually play for them. Talk about adversity, that’s a conversation stopper every time. What do you say to any guy who admits he works for a company with a .01325 success rate besides, “sorry for your losses?”
Browns players have to step back onto the field next season and pretend they belong somewhere they haven’t belonged in a long time. They have to be the guy at the night club who’s just gotten turned down 31 times but who’s still brave enough to ask someone else to dance.
Author Jay calls those types of people, “supernormal”.
She says the word “supernormal” means above the normal or average:
"“I’m talking about resilient people who have above-average outcomes after adversity. They beat the odds, they beat expectations…it takes a lot of courage to go out there and rise above your circumstances or rise above the events that have happened to you.”"
And to put on the orange and brown uniform despite all those losses since 1999 requires above-average courage that some might call foolhardy.
Nope – it’s called resilience, and anyone “supernormal” who plans to play or work or root for the Browns in 2018 had better start finding some.
Next: What would Le'Veon Bell cost in free agency?
It may be the best way to bounce back from all the stress we’ve been through.