This past week was not a good one for Minnesota sports fans. Since Oct. 1, the teams that call the Land of Lakes home have been a combined 3-5. Two of the three wins came from the Minnesota Lynx, who captured their fourth WNBA title in the last seven years. Not to take anything away from the Lynx, but right or wrong the other losses dramatically overshadowed their win in terms of impact. Included in these losses were an end to the Twins’ season, a season-ending injury to the Vikings’ best running back, a flailing start to the Wild season, and a Gopher football team that has yet to win a Big Ten Conference game.
That being said, Saturday night reminded me why I’m a sports fan in the first place. As I drove home from working at the Fargo Force game that night, I listened to the radio and heard about all the losses Minnesota suffered around the country. As I listened to highlights of the Wild’s loss in a shootout and the Gophers’ abysmal performance in West Lafayette, I was reminded of the Force’s overtime loss, and I couldn’t help but laugh at what we are.
It’s not news that being a sports fan in Minnesota is full of despair, dread, and the knowledge that if a team can blow a game in any possible way they will, but that’s why we care.
Minnesota—more accurately, Minneapolis/St. Paul, but the whole state can have fans too—has gone longer without a championship than any other area with a big-four pro sports franchise. Again, nothing against the Lynx, but the WNBA is not a big four league in terms of media coverage or viewership. The state has not won a championship since the 1991 Twins won the World Series. The 96 combined seasons since that title give Minnesota the longest drought in the country.
Still, without a win in over two decades, there is something to be said for the bonding effect losing has on a fanbase. In my humble opinion, Minnesota sports fandom is criminally underrated by the country as a whole. We’re the people way up there who eat butter for breakfast and forget to go to work because we were too busy out on the pond playing shinny. However, we Minnesota fans know that there is so much more to it, even if our collective image has been built brick-by-brick on losing.
We’ll never forget wide left. We’ll never forget that we could’ve been in the Super Bowl had Brett Favre not passed that ball. We’ll never forget those four postseason losses to the Yankees. We’ll never forget that the Wild couldn’t beat the Blackhawks if our lives depended on it.
Nevertheless, our sports are teeming with community spirit, tradition, and general insanity. Sports are something so utterly Minnesotan that idiots will stand outside in sub-zero weather wearing nothing but body paint to cheer on a team that plays indoors.
At this point, we must admit our futility, but accept that it’s why we care. Whenever that elusive championship is won—whether by the Wild, Vikings, Wolves, or Twins—you can bet that the entire state will stop what it’s doing and celebrate as a whole.
Besides, even Cleveland has won a championship since 1991.