As I sit and watch the minor league football team that is the Colts, there is one question that keeps coming back into my head over and over; As a true fan, what do you do with a season like this? How do we support our team when there is nothing about this season that we want to support?
A little background from me. I was born in 1981 and grew up in Indianapolis. The first football I remember is listening to Bob Lamey on the radio. These were back in the days when home Colts games were not on TV. Nothing sold out, ever. Sometimes, we didn't even get to see the away games on TV. It was an exciting day to get to watch our Colts on a Sunday afternoon. I survived through those years.
I feel in love with the idea that we might get better...sometime. I feel in love with the hope that we could do better the next time around. It was good enough to live on that hope. It was all I needed. But things went horribly wrong. The Colts got good! With the addition of Polian (the good one back in those days) I knew we would get better and we did.
No longer was it if we could get better but about how good could we be. We were the envy of the league, a model of consistency and the franchise that most fans in the league would kill to be a part of. We lived in a dream world. Winning was the way we knew. It seemed like the only way things had ever been. It was easy to be a fan. Championships were expected and won.
Then came this year. A year that will take every fan to the extreme.
The question is not if I will remain a fan of the Colts. They got me. I'm in. I will always be a Colts fan. My question is, how do I show my support for my team when I am thoroughly frustrated with the course they have taken? How do you support something and show displeasure at the same time?
We can debate what went wrong with the season and this team until the cows come home (Indiana joke there). My personal opinion is that our lack of investment in the offensive line over a number of years have led us to rely too heavily on the mind of one man (#18) on the offensive side of the ball. A reluctance to embrace change in defensive philosophy and an penchant for overpaying in the wrong places (see Bob Sanders, Kelvin Hayden and Gary Brackett) have rendered our defense largely ineffective. Don't get me started on trainers either. How many times can we lead the league in injuries without doing something about it?
So how do we show how pissed we are about things while staying true to our fan-dom? How do we tell Irsay that busting on 3 entire drafts is not okay with us? How do we make it clear that one player, even if he is the greatest of all time, should not make our team? How do we show the players on the team that we expect more for them? How do we show coaches that the same old thing, without improvement is unacceptable?
Some will say go to the game and boo. That doesn't get through to management in my mind because they still get my money. What about bags on our heads? Too cliche?
Some say don't go to the games because that's the only way to get through, but I doubt that will make a dent. If enough people did it, they would just move the team and we couldn't be fans anymore.
Some will say screw it and pick a new team. That's not what being a fan(atic) is about.
Is there anything a fan base can do? Can we effect the path of our team? I feel so powerless. I don't have the answer. That's why I write this. I need help. What should we do to show how unhappy we are?
Maybe we support our team while on the road. I am headed to the game next week against in Nashville (and let me tell you, I'm worried about how pissed the Titans will be after getting manhandled on Sunday). I will be wearing my blue proudly for the first time in an opposing stadium and suffering, broken-heart-ed, through every minute.
I can't decide which is worse, living through hoping to get better or being better and then watching it fall apart.