1. It’s critical that you know every playoff scenario that might save your team from elimination, no matter how insane.
It’s impressive how far fans will go to come up with a variety of scenarios that are all so unique and complex in their hopelessness. “OK, so if the Broncos lose all their remaining games…”
2. No matter what you said two months ago, your franchise player is now the worst human being who has ever lived.
This situation is obviously his fault, his fault alone and definitely not a combination of complicated factors ranging from management to the roster to simple bad luck.
Because otherwise, that would mean that there are several terrible people at fault, and it’s much easier to believe your team can be saved next year if it only needs to chuck one specific terrible person overboard.
3. Your coach is definitely getting fired*, for real this time.
Yes, you know that there have been many close calls in the past, but he is definitely, for real, absolutely without question going to get fired after this season. There is just no way he won’t. For serious.
To you, this is either a tragedy, because you actually blame your team’s failings on your franchise player (see above) or it’s an exorcism, as you’re spending so much time rehashing the coach’s failures in your head that you are starting to forget the names of co-workers, friends, and your spouse.
*Or the NFL version of “fired,” which is more like a large game of White Elephant, in which everyone brings a member of their coaching staff they don’t want, and at the end, everyone has someone else’s retread coach who they also probably don’t want.
4. Next year’s rookies are now as important, if not more important, than your 401k, or your children.
Because if there is one healthy coping mechanism, it’s placing all your hopes and fears on the shoulders of 18-22 year olds.
5. Fantasy baseball starts to look like not such a terrible idea.
What could be better for blotting out your feelings of devastation than a fantasy sport that is such a massive time suck that it is practically a part-time job?
Fantasy baseball is the disgruntled sport’s fan’s version of getting divorced and then deciding to write a novel. To you, it seems almost romantic: spending days upon days muttering and cursing over baseball stats you don’t really understand, like Nate Silver, if Nate Silver actually had no idea what he was doing.
6. You start referring to your team as a “young team.”
Your team is not a “young team.” It is probably just “a team with both young and old players, and is also not very good.” But when your season is basically shit-canned, it’s natural to mentally set the older, injured players on ice floes to drift away from your thoughts while you focus your hopes and dreams on some young players.
Also: “Man, I think [this first- or second-year player] has some [seriously fucking overvalued potential].” — You, just all the goddamn time, now.
7. You start looking up your player’s injuries on WebMD in the hopes that maybe they aren’t that bad.
You set up a Google alert for “femur totally shattered amazing 2-4 week recovery” just in case any medical technology should suddenly advance, or something.
Because seriously, what kind of world do we live in where every human has a little computer in their pockets, but we can’t fix Derrick Rose’s knee in a week?
8. You fantasize about your team deciding to just start the practice squad for the rest of the season.
Look, all play time is garbage time, now. Any further victories just make it that much harder for your team to land that shamefully sweet first draft pick.
9. Desperately trying to replay your team’s season on video games is important, because it proves that a championship is theoretically possible.
It’s kind of like getting a visit from the ghost of Christmas future, but the opposite. You get to see good things that theoretically could happen, and then you wake up from your dream, and everything is actually terrible.
10. Next year is absolutely, without question, going to be your year.
Despite any information you may logically know to the contrary, next year will be “a good year” and not “a year in which your team repeats the same mistakes from this year and you are 12 months closer to dead.”