Sometimes sports rip your heart out and these ten plays from Texas Tech football history certainly did that to Red Raider fans.
Though we all hate the pain that sports often doles out, the reality is that the experience would not be the same were it not for pain. But Texas Tech football fans could do with a little less pain than we’ve had to endure.
Still, the experience of true gut-wrenching agony is what separates sports from other forms of entertainment. And in many ways, fans derive some masochistic pleasure from watching our teams fail.
It isn’t that we want them to lose, especially in excruciating ways. Rather, it is that the joy of victory can’t be fully appreciated without the heartbreak of defeat. Just as night doesn’t exist without day and good can’t exist without evil, victory must be balanced out by defeat or else it simply ceases to exist.
Fans of the opera or movie buffs don’t understand that paradox. That’s because they aren’t emotionally invested in their preferred art form (and make no mistake, sports are an art form) as sports fans are.
When was the last time your coworker came to work depressed because the sculpture garden he visited the night before was disappointing? Have you ever heard of a fan of the symphony crying tears of agony because their favorite collection of classical musicians didn’t quite capture the full scope of Beethoven’s 5th? Certainly not.
Sports are different and beautiful because they are a zero-sum game. There has to be a winner and a loser (unless you are talking about soccer) and the fact that one side of the equation will come up short is unique.
Everyone that goes to see the latest blockbuster film is hoping for the same outcome. They want the hero to save the day and get the girl in an entertaining fashion. But if the move is a flop, they are all in the same boat of disappointment. The same can be said of concertgoers, foodies, fans of interpretive dance, or patrons of the newest microbrew in town.
Not sports fans. While people that enjoy other avenues for their entertainment may consider their interests a small part of who they are, sports fans are often defined by our allegiances.
Nowhere is that more true than in the world of college sports. We know that a fan of Texas A&M is going to act is a certain way and believe certain facts that no one else in the country thinks are true. And we know that when you put Red Raiders and Aggies in the same venue, a nuclear reaction is likely to occur at any moment.
Put foodies and oil painters in the same venue and they will almost certainly become one enmeshed group. There’s a reason that college football arenas have designated seating sections for the visiting fans and movie theaters do not have to separate out the Star Wars fans from the Harry Potter fans when both groups go see the latest Avengers Flick.
But with intense passion comes intense pain. With diehard loyalty comes soul-crushing defeat. What’s strange though, is that we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fans of the Dallas Mavericks will tell you that the 2011 NBA title their team won was made all the more enjoyable and legendary because of the 2006 NBA Finals loss to Miami. By avenging that loss five years later against the Heat, the Mavericks completed a journey that only Hollywood would dream up; one that was infinitely more legendary because of the pain that had been endured when they blew a 2-0 lead in their previous trip to the Finals.
That’s why so many of us keep heading back to Jones Stadium year after year, even as the glory days of the late 2000s continue to fade into the past. We know that there’s always a chance that the pain we’ve suffered will be redeemed by a momentous victory and when that occurs, it will make the struggle worth the suffering.
So perhaps that perspective will help us look back at some of the most frustrating plays in program history with a bit more levity. Maybe we will start to see the scars they left on our hearts as badges of honor and toughness. Or maybe we truly are just gluttons for punishment. Either way, we are sports fans and the pain is part of what we live for.