The Final Legs of the Season: A Journey Through the Five Stages of Grief

KANSAS CITY, KS - SEPTEMBER 10: Brad Davis #11 of the Houston Dynamo battles Roger Espinoza #15 of Sporting Kansas City for the ball during the MLS game on September 10, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After a debacle like our 3-0 fallout against Kansas City, it's just kind of hard to know what to say or do as a mixture of emotions surface. There's anger, sadness, despair, rage, angst, and we'll just stop there as my gut is now on fire.

These are common manifestations of grief. To borrow from the landmark book, On Death and Dying, grieving guru Elisabeth Kübler-Ross describes grief as a cycle in 5 stages. Using this season as an example, we may be able to view ourselves and our progress a bit differently:

1. Denial- "Things are fine. This isn't happening."
Denial is usually temporary as the prospect of a long uneventful post season becomes real.

Some stay cemented at this stage, demanding others deeply 'root' here as well.

"You are not loyal unless you stand with us. You are not educated. You are not a true fan."

I am not one of these 'my country right or wrong' fellas. To me, the true measure of fan loyalty is to demand better, but no matter what, to support the team.

It's like family. You may give your brother your half of the money for your mom's birthday present and he may go and spend it all on crack.

Though he's still your brother, you still kick his ass.

Perhaps that doesn't cure his crack addiction. You even feel remorse afterwards, wondering why the hell you gave an addict money without supervision.

Temporarily, you feel slightly better.

Instead of internalizing (this isn't happening), you externalized, meaning you have already made it to Step 2.

Good for you, bad for your brother's face.

Denial statements might include:

It was just one game
Costly had a good game. He just needs better service
Watson is the solution and needs more minutes
If we just hustled more, all would be fine
This result is not indicative of anything else
Cameron is a fine attacking midfielder- he just needs MORE time
We deserve to go to the playoffs
We will go far in the playoffs
We were just unlucky
That wasn't a red card foul
We were victims of a bad ref

2. Anger- "WTF did I just watch?!?!?!? WAS THAT THE DYNAMO?"

Or, "Transfer the whole lot of them!"

If you want some practice on Stages of Grief, reread Ginge's game thread.

Ouch.

When addressing the Bargaining Stage, I'll reference a scene from Repo Man, an 80's movie about punk rock, repoing cars, time travel, generic beer, drugs and food- among many other zany things.

On the subject of time travel- how the heck did the defense from the 4th game in 14 days against Dallas- a tired flat footed bunch- get time-ported to the 1st game of that stretch?

Seriously, they were either victims of time travel, or attended the same bachelor party the night before (think of the movie, the Hangover), or Teal Bunbury decided payback for his injury was to make Hainult look like a spitted pig roasting over a bonfire, or you fill in the blank.

Anger.

Because the alternatives are worse.

 


3. Bargaining- Brain begins to generate the possibility that perceptions are correct- as in: "OMG, THAT WAS THE DYNAMO!!!"

Followed by numerous,
"WTF!
WTF?
WTF!"

It reminds me of this scene from Repo Man-

Bud: Repo man don't go running to the man Marlene. A repo man goes at it alone.

Lite: Yes sirree bob.

Marlene: Just like John Wayne.

Oly: Damn right just like John Wayne what's wrong about that?

Plettschner: Greatest American that ever lived.

Miller: John Wayne was a fag.

Bud: What did you say man?

Plettschner: Whaa?

Oly: What?

Miller: John Wayne was a fag.

Everyone: The hell he was.

Miller: He was too you boys. I installed two way mirrors in his pad in Brentwood. And he'd come to the door in a dress.

Plettschner: Ah, you're fucking nuts.

Oly: That doesn't mean he was a homo, Miller. Lotta straight guys like to watch their buddies fuck. I know I do.

Bud: They do?

Plettschner: Yeah.

Oly: Don't you?

Plettschner: Damn straight I do.

When confronted with Miller's eyeball witness account of their paragon of masculinity, Oly and the boys must reinvent masculinity to include cross dressing, voyeurism and perhaps even wife swapping. Of course, they would swear, it was the woman they were watching....

Bargaining.

The enticement of Sanchez coming here on trial (even though the foreign transfer deadline has passed) is an example of bargaining. As in, maybe we should attend practices instead of games to see Camargo and Sanchez get minutes, so we can have some idea about next season.

Help me, like Oly helped John Wayne, to reinvent things. Let's turn this Rubik's Cube of a season this way or that, to make it more palatable.

Or gosh, if only we pair Cameron with Boz, all would be different (Reubensque cherubs shout YAH! with glee).


4. Depression- "the sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

Worse: "Uh-oh, what if we MAKE the playoffs?"

Help me here, guys. I don't want to stay here too long.

5. Acceptance

Reality sets in, there's always next year.

We're just going to have to wait it out. Face it, we WILL NOT go after foreign players who cost us money without having them here on loan first. Otherwise, it's down to out of contract journeymen or hopefully good players who haven't found a home by late January or early February.

Putting on a brave face- perhaps it's better we don't make the playoffs, so we can start planning for next year.

We had a few great championship seasons from a veteran team, and it's going to take time, especially since the transfer kitty is all but nonexistent and our Front Office is very gun shy about taking risks. The latter translates to slow but steady growth, but hopefully means there won't be a significant fall.

It's all about conservative financial planning.

Over the long haul.

And that

Takes time.

Now, if we can just win on the road...
Once.
Now THAT'S acceptance.

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