Why Being a Cubs Fan May Be Bad for Your Mental Health
By: Grant Stenzel, MS Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
When August rolls around each year, do you have unexpected feelings of anger or depression? Do you feel like you’ve been let down, or that all hope is lost? Then you may be a Chicago Cubs fan.
As the oldest currently active professional sports club in the U.S., the Chicago Cubs have become iconic for both positive and negative reasons. The Cubs were the first team to play in a World Series championship three times in a row and won back-to-back in 1907 and 1908. Unfortunately, 1908 was the last time they won and have been known for their 107-year losing streak ever since. This disappointing (yet, somehow impressive) streak is why I’m still amazed that Cubs fans continue to believe that “this is our year!”
Whether it’s the Cubs, another person, or anything else in your life, what you put your hope into is very important. Although miracles do happen, you should always balance hope with realism. Sports teams can achieve a lot, but there are always limits.
Though we live in a “you can do anything” society, this axiom, though encouraging, can be harmful. In reality, we can’t do “anything.” No matter how hard I try, I will never play for the Chicago White Sox simply because of my own life circumstances. It is good to encourage people to dream and work hard, but we need to temper this with realistic goals. When aspirations are too lofty, we can get overwhelmed and quit or, even worse; feel like there is something wrong with us because we couldn’t achieve the goal.
Managing expectations also plays a role in forming healthy relationships. If you have a friend who treats you poorly, but you continue to be their friend because you believe that, one day, they will change, you are most likely in an unhealthy relationship. Although it’s good to see the best in people, there is a point where cutting ties is what is best for the relationship.
Now I’m not saying that you need to “cut ties” with your beloved Cubs, but I do think you should step back and look at why you’re so upset at the end of each season. As a White Sox fan, I’m never disappointed, because I don’t expect much. I watch the game for fun, and if they lose, they lose. If not, I can be pleasantly surprised (like in 2005 when the Sox won the World Series). This causes much less stress and sadness when my team doesn’t win.
I know that the Cubs are actually decent this year, so your disappointment may not come until September or October. If you do continue to blindly put hope in the Chicago Cubs (even as they delay the inevitable), expect to feel the fall blues. But, as a professional, I am still here to help. My team and I can work with you to manage your expectations…and possibly convert you to a Sox fan.