You know what’s the best part about telling someone that you’re from Cleveland, OH?
The look on their face.
We’ve seen it a thousand times. Both eyes squint towards the sky. The bottom of their chin slams into their throat, topped off with a patronizing smile & obnoxious snort.
Wait for it…
BOOM. An onslaught of sports jabs, rust belt jokes & that ‘onetime they drove through Cleveland to get somewhere else on a roadtrip’!
Didn’t one of Cleveland’s rivers catch on fire? Yes.
Haven’t the Browns had 20 quarterbacks since 1999? Yeah, but..
No doubt we’ve lost in some epic fashions & as a city, are renowned for our shortcomings. But let me take you into the mind of a Clevelander…
When we watch our sports teams play, most of us live in this perpetual fear of Murphys Law:
“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Now, I’d argue most sports fans on the brink of anything close to greatness experience this in some fashion.
However, for sports fans of Northeast Ohio, we experience this feeling with every swing of the bat, every drive & every three point shot. It has become so ingrained in our sports psyche that we cannot escape it.
Our city — with arguably one of it’s best chances to win a title in the last 51 years— is now on the cusp of yet another historic loss. I guarantee, we’re already thinking about that loss. The headlines. The jokes from coworkers & friends. We won’t watch ESPN for weeks.
Furthermore, the feeling that Clevelanders ‘come up short on the biggest stage’ has been so dramatically reinforced year after year, that I wonder…
….if we would ever find as much satisfaction in winning it all as we would in defending yet another catastrophic loss?
Yes, you heard me.
What happens when the majority of a sports city’s psychological fortitude was built by trying to defend their very teams from being the butt of a joke?
We cling to it. We defend it, passionately. We find pride in being the consummate underdog, always ‘waiting for next year’. We even joke about it amongst ourselves.
Still, if the majority of our sports history is predicated on defending our losses — what becomes of our sports identity if we capture a championship?
I’d like to find out. Whether it be this year or next.
And to start, on behalf of the LAND, we’d like to politely ask that all outsiders hold on to their preconceived notions about our city.
Because… what’s worse than the look of disgust that invariably comes over their face when we tell them we’re from Cleveland?
Never having the chance to savor that moment again.