When Getting to the Top Is More Beautiful Than Winning the Title

As a relative newcomer to soccer and, being a Tottenham fan, I must say that I have immensely enjoyed the past couple of years. Last year saw Spurs squeak past Manchester City to take fourth place and a Champions League spot. And the late April match that ultimately decided it all was the most thrilling one I had ever seen up to that point. This year has seen Spurs have unimaginable success in the Champions League. Each match has been more exciting than the last. And it would be a thrill to see Spurs win the coveted European title, but part of me hopes they don’t win the whole thing this year.

You must be thinking I am insane, and long time fans of the numerous English teams that haven’t sniffed a league title or played in the Champions League will agree. But winning isn’t always the sweetest feeling in the world. What’s better you ask? Before I answer that let me give you some background into my reasoning.

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas was great for a young sports fan. My favorite football team was the Cowboys, and my favorite basketball team was the Spurs. (My favorite baseball team was the Mariners, but that was more because of Ken Griffey Baseball on the Super Nintendo than anything else). The Cowboys won three titles in four short years and all three victories were as great as the last, while the Spurs constantly won 50 games each year and lost in heart break in the playoffs. Finally in 1999 the Spurs, with newly acquired all-time great Tim Duncan, won the title and it’s something I’ll never forget. As many of you might know the Spurs have won another three titles in the past decade and currently have the best record in the NBA.

Having these two different experiences of following my favorite teams has given me the prospective that it isn’t winning the title that truly makes the experience of being a sports fan great, but it’s the life and death march your favorite team goes through that makes sports what it is. Since I was so young when the Cowboys were dominating the NFL, in subsequent years I cared less and less about the wins and losses. I still watch some, and occasionally with players such as Terrell Owens and Mike Williams I find myself rooting against my “favorite” team, but the losses don’t hurt, they cause no pain. I’ve been to the mountain top and it was great, but how many times can you experience climbing the Himalayas for the first time? Now I find myself feeling the same way about the San Antonio Spurs. After the first title, I talked myself into believing that the ’99 title wasn’t as great as it should have been because of the NBA lockout. Beating the Nets in 2003 also felt hollow since they were the lowly Nets. But in 2005 the Spurs beat the defending champs in a seven game series and basketball hasn’t meant as much since.

I picked Tottenham for a several reasons such as their attacking style of play, their laugh-a-minute manager, and several players who immediately stand out as fun to watch such as Luka Modric, Aaron “Go Faster Stripes” Lennon, Peter Crouch, and Gareth Bale. But most of all I chose to throw myself into being a Spurs fan because I couldn’t follow a team that won all the time like Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal. And I certainly couldn’t follow a team as shameless as Manchester City, so Spurs it was.

I’ve been surprised how fast I’ve come to truly care about each and every game Tottenham plays and how often I google Tottenham just in case something happened in the five minutes since I last checked. I wake up early on Saturday and Sundays to watch Tottenham and the rest of the competition in the English Premier League. And my weekend is greatly affected by the result of my favorite team’s match. Win and everything is great, and all week I’m coming up with various ways they could win the double. Lose and my week is spent looking at Liverpool’s fixtures, how they’ll probably end up beating Spurs out for fifth spot and reduce my team to a laughing stock for their late season collapse. To someone who doesn’t immerse themselves in their team, they wouldn’t understand what it’s like to live and die each weekend. But those that do understand completely. For me it’s the experience of the journey getting to the top that is the beauty in winning the title, and not the title itself.

How do my fellow EPL Talk-ers feel? If you’re a relative newcomer, do you want your favorite team winning trophies right away? For those who picked a perennial title winner like Manchester United or Chelsea, are the highs and lows as great as they were in the beginning? And for the fans of teams that haven’t won anything in years, what do you think it will feel like when the long drought is over? Share your insights below.

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