Every sports fan has their share of misery, but I think mine takes the cake. I grew up cheering for any team from Cleveland, an unfortunate bunch that collectively hasn't won a championship since 1964. Voted the most miserable sports city by ESPN, Cleveland's despair is unmatched: we've got The Catch, The Drive, The Fumble, The Collapse, The Shot, Game Seven and, of course, The Move. College wouldn't bring any more joy; I go to Northwestern, where most would rather spend their Saturdays studying than tailgating. The football team hasn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, including a Divison1-A record 34 straight losses. And let's not talk about the basketball team, which has never (never!) made the NCAA tournament and is ranked 320 out of 326 programs all-time.
But things are looking up for me; The Cavs have LeBron James, The Wildcats are 2-0 and the Indians are on the verge of making the playoffs. So, in the spirit of Schadenfreude, here's a look at five sports fans more miserable than me.
1. Jim Coan
Jim Coan hasn't watched Liverpool FC, his favorite football (soccer, in American) team, in a decade; doctor's orders. He suffers from atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disturbance that can knock him out if he gets too excited. Anyone who's seen the World Cup knows that excitement is what football fans do best. They cheer, scream and sing to the point where you've got to worry about someone having a stroke. Since finding out about the condition, he's missed the team playing in a couple of league championships and a victory in the FA cup. He's also had to cut back on scuba diving and parachuting, but says he hasn't completely given up on the team; he still watches highlights of the matches and cheers them on, though in a somewhat duller fashion.
2. Laura Gibbons
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons either has horrible or impeccable aim. Either way, he managed to hit his wife, Laura, with a foul ball last year. The ball struck Laura in the ribs and left her with some bruising; luckily she avoided more serious damage. Adding more irony to the incident is the fact that Jay had always been an advocate for more foul ball protection for fans; earlier that year he had spoken to management about raising the walls and adding a daycare center for children.
3. Brittanie Cecil
Despite being one of the most aggressive contact sports, hockey is surprisingly safe. In fact, only one fan has been killed in the NHL's history. Tragically, it was a 13-year-old girl, which sent shock waves through the NHL community. Brittanie Cecil was struck in 2002 with a deflected slapshot that sailed over the protective glass at an estimated 100 mph. Her head snapped back, causing rare artery damage (the doctor treating her said he had never seen anything like it). She died two days after being hit, leading the NHL to investigate ways to improve safety for fans to prevent another death.
4. Prairie View A&M
As any Michigan student will tell you, having to watch a football team lose week after week can really put a damper on the college experience. So what happens when you go your entire college career without seeing a win? Students at Prairie View, a school in Texas, crushed the NCAA record for consecutive losses by losing 80 straight games in the "˜90s. The streak started in October, 1989 and didn't end until 1998, meaning that five classes didn't celebrate a victory. The worst season was 1991, when they gave up an average of 56 points per game while only scoring 48 total. Most fans only came to see the marching band, which only made the team's 80th loss more bitter. The band was suspended after a brawl with the Southern University band, officially making the 37-7 loss the worst for Panthers fans (luckily, they won the next game).
5. Steven Manganello
Every member of the Red Sox Nation lived for the 2004 World Series, when they broke their 86-year curse. Even Steven Manganello, a long-time Sox fan made sure he booked his vacation in Japan so he could make it back before the playoffs started. Then came the twist you just can't make up. On his last night in Japan, he was struck by a taxi and went into a coma. On top of the brain hemorrhage, potential paralysis, broken ribs and punctured lung, he missed the playoffs, the historic ALCS comeback against the Yankees and the long-awaited World Series victory. He drifted in and out of consciousness, so he was fed updates by his brother and friends (who even lied to him and pretended the Sox had been winning the ALCS the whole time). He recovered by the summer, when he watched tapes of the playoff games, but admitted that the experience was bittersweet.