Stangl

Do you follow a sports team?

Have they broken your heart?

Do you feel they lost because you failed to wear a “lucky” article of clothing? How about losing because you watched the game?

If the team does well, are you constantly waiting for the “other shoe” to drop and the good times to end?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you will understand my dilemma.

As I write this for an early deadline, my favorite team, the Miami Dolphins, is a half game out of first place and is riding a five-game win streak. They are off to their best start in nearly 20 years.

It’s very scary.

Rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the savior the Dolphins drafted in the spring, has yet to lose a game. The Dolphins decided a year ago, when they hired current Coach Brian Flores, to tear down their roster and rebuild it for extended success. Tagovailoa was the prize in mind to build the franchise around.

You may recall the Dolphins were drubbed by opponents last year in the first seven games of the year but turned things around to win five games with a Pop Warner squad.

I realize I live in the land of Packers and Vikings fans and it’s more than a little odd to root for a team from Miami, but there’s very little logic in being a fan of a professional (or any other) team.

Often, we are indoctrinated into fandom at a young age. In my household we were Catholic, Democrat Minnesota Vikings fans. My folks were big fans of Pope John XXIII, John F. Kennedy and Bud Grant.

I played along with everything until January 11, 1970.

That’s the day the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV. Heartbroken and disbelieving, I swore I would not abide with the heartbreak. I was going to find a new team, one that would not break my eight-year-old heart.

But how to select a new team? Where could I turn to learn about the other potential suitors?

I did what children my age did in 1970, I turned to the JC Penney catalog.

Sure, it seems crazy to admit it now, but the catalog had the merchandise of all 16 NFL teams. This was shortly after the NFL and AFL merger, so I could see the exotic colors and logos of all the teams.

The aqua and orange of the Miami Dolphins caught my eye. I even ordered a rain poncho with my paper route money to “test drive” the team.

When I was able to see the team play on television, I became smitten with Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield. In just a couple of years, my new team was in the Super Bowl. They lost to the despised Dallas Cowboys. They returned the next year to cap off a perfect season, beating the Washington Redskins. The next year, they defeated the Minnesota Vikings, sweet redemption for me.

They haven’t won the big game since. Dan Marino came and left, losing his one Super Bowl appearance in 1985, his rookie year. I have had my comeuppance in the heartbreak department.

So, even though I know in my heart I will be to blame when they lose, I can’t help but have some hope for the Dolphins.

You see, I’m a fan.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.