The Benefits of Being a Detroit Lions Fan

I grew up in Kingsville, Ontario, the southern most town in Canada.  It’s south of Windsor and only a half hour from Detroit, Michigan.  Growing up so close to Detroit, it was awesome to have so many great sports options to choose from.  There was the Tigers, who won the World Series in 1984 (I was even able to attend game 4 as my dad scored some tickets in the center field bleachers).   The Pistons were also fun to cheer for during their hey day as the “Motor City Bad Boys” when they won NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.  While the Red Wings weren’t winning any Stanley Cups while I was growing up, they boasted a rich heritage as an “Original Six” NHL team and had superstars like Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov.

Check out the autographed pic I found on Google.  No I don't have the original.

Check out the autographed pic I found on Google. No I don’t have the original.

Then there was the Detroit Lions, a team so consistently bad I used to joke that when you went to a Lions game, you only got to see one NFL team play.  There were the occasional years when they would end up with a .500 record or better.  There were even a couple of playoff appearances, though few and far between.  After I moved away, I still followed the Detroit teams.  The Red Wings won numerous Stanley Cups.  The Pistons won another championship in 2004.  The Tigers have made the World Series a number of times.  The Lions greatest accomplishment has been they are the only NFL team in history to go 0-16 for a season.

Still, with the passage of time and the wisdom that comes from age and experience, I have come to see some benefits of being a fan of a team with such an ignoble history.  This week, as the NFL season begins and I once again start cheering for a team that has let me down so often, I thought I would share some of those revelations with you.

I've seen a lot and this one is actually pretty good.

I’ve seen a lot and this one is actually pretty good.

The first one is simply this, adversity makes you stronger.  You cheer for a team that has so often let everyone down and one of two things happens.  Either you find a new team to cheer for or you develop a very tough skin.  Detroit Lions fans have some of the thickest skin out there.  We have heard it all.  We have seen it all.  You know what all those jeers mean to us?  NOTHING!  We are immune to it all.  Pick on a Packers fan about wearing cheese on their head and watch them get all defensive.  The character we have developed as we have watched our team implode year after year allows us to endure anything anyone can throw at us.  If adversity makes you stronger, we are as strong as they come.

Being a Lions fan, I have also really learned to enjoy and appreciate every blessing that comes along on your path.  Sure we have never won the Superbowl and I know the reason we haven’t is because we have never even been to one.   Do you know what I have gotten to enjoy though?  I got to enjoy Barry Sanders make opposing defenses look like chumps as he rushed for 2000 yards.  I got to enjoy Chris Spielman’s intensity as my favorite defensive player ever.  Lately, I have enjoyed watching the amazing athleticism of the super talented Calvin Johnson.  Lions fans have learned to truly appreciate every good thing that comes their way.  Ask a Bear’s fan to appreciate a good game played by Jay Cutler and they’ll still find something to complain about.  Being a Lions fan has made me better at seeing the rainbow instead of the cloud.

It could happen this year....and not just in a video game.

It could happen this year….and not just in a video game.

Lastly, I have learned hope is a virtue we all can choose no matter what situation we are in.  Every August, it starts again.  The excitement that begins to build with pre-season games.  This could be the year.  Look at the players we drafted.  Look at the free agents we signed.  All the pieces could finally come together, we could shrug off decades of futility and rise up to fulfill our destiny as Superbowl champions.  I clearly remember walking into the Pontiac Silverdome one year for a pre-season game.  There was a buzz in the crowd as we all were excited, not only for the return of football, but the fresh start that was before us.  Last year meant nothing, this year hadn’t been written and the possibilities were endless.  We chose to hope.  This year we choose to hope again.

Choosing hope, appreciating every blessing, growing stronger through adversity.  Maybe every man should be a Lions fan.  Every guy could grow in those areas.  After all, though we haven’t won it all, being a Lions fan has made me a better person and given me a better outlook on life.  I dare say it’s made me a philosopher.  I’d like to see any Vikings fan say that!




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