Is this what falling out of love feels like?
This has been a season like no other for the Warriors, and as they head into their final game of the season, I’m finding I’ve never been so… meh about the team.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll defend what they’ve done and sacrificed to make this season happen until I’m blue in the face. There wouldn’t have been a conclusion to the season without the Warriors, and the other NRL teams and administrators have done a good job of verbalising their appreciation. (Remember teams heading into the Warriors dressing rooms after thrashing them to thank them for what they were doing?)
I’ve been struggling to separate how I feel about the team’s sacrifice with how I’ve felt about them on the field. It almost hurts to say they haven’t been a priority for me. I didn’t plan the weekend around games like usual. If we had later games, I’d try half-heartedly to find some radio commentary and drift off to sleep with it on in the background. I wasn’t refreshing Twitter after every play to see the reaction of fellow diehards. Sometimes I’d not even check the score until the following day.
For non-sports fans, I’m sure it makes sense. There’s been no home games, so that immediate connection to the team is lost. There’s naturally less coverage when there’s less availability. There’s been more coaching drama, some heavy losses. There’s been plenty of other things to focus on, locally and around the world. And with all games being in Australia, we’ve had to tolerate Blocker and Braith more than normal – that’s enough to drive anyone away.
I’ll even throw in, for me personally, that I’ve felt the loss of Radio Sport has played a part in the dissonance. Interviews with coaches and players during the week, Team Naming Tuesday, and even ranty talkback helped keep the team and the game front of mind.
I had season tickets to the Warriors for a decade before a couple of life factors got in the way. But I’d still mark the games in the calendar each week and get in front of the tele to watch. This season, when the boss asked who “the boys” had this weekend, I’d have to sneakily check the app before replying.
The games I have watched, the feeling has still been there. I’ve fist pumped and clapped as RTS did RTS things, when big hits were made, I’ve fallen a little bit in love with Jack Murchie, and roared in frustration at dropped balls, missed tackles and dumb penalties.
So it’s not apathy. Yet.
There’s a certain pride in the turbulence of being a Warriors fan. Day-Oners are everywhere (or claim to be). There’s a hardened and defensive right that comes with having sat through the wind and rain at a near-empty Mt Smart watching 40-point losses over the years. There’s no rollercoaster like the Warriors rollercoaster, the dizzy heights and flashes of what could be, and the feeling of hopelessness dangling upside down and hurtling towards the ground. 25 times a season, year in, year out. So when those rare playoff berths come along, you know you’ve earned the right to silently scoff at the bandwagoners who walk around saying “Since 95!”
Maybe the month-long women’s competition featuring the Warriors women’s side will be the spark. Maybe a long off season with no international league will have me itching for the game again in 2021. Perhaps there will be an arrangement where the team can play at least some home games, and I can breathe it all in again, and get the Warriors back into the bloodstream.
Whatever the issue, I hope it doesn’t last. I don’t like feeling this way about a team I’ve been on the rollercoaster with for half of my life.
It’s a matter of faith, right?
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