Some years back, amid the Patriots’ long string of success, we wrote that New England fans should enjoy the ride, because it inevitably would come to an end.
We’ve been Pats’ fans since the 1960s, so unlike younger fans, we’ve known many more years of failure than success, which gave us a much-greater appreciation for the Pats’ amazing and unprecedented run of Super Bowl appearances and league titles from 2001-2019.
Societies have worshiped their athletic heroes dating back to the ancient Greeks. In the modern age, sports have served as a form of entertainment that uniquely brings people together, where we can forget ours and the world’s problems, even if it’s for just a few hours each week. In addition, success on the athletic field (or track or arena) is the ultimate meritocracy — unlike just about every other aspect of our society — which is why cheaters in sports are so reviled.
The Patriots’ success became part of the local culture, with fans — and even non-fans — partaking of game-day parties and tailgating that helped us endure the long fall and winter seasons. Studies have shown that sharing the experience of a successful sports team with friends brings noticeable psychological benefits that last for a couple of days — and New England fans had almost 20 years of joy.
But New England no longer is the center of the pro football universe. We’re now the ones on the outside looking in, as was the case for so many others for two decades. When the hometown newspaper writes that your 1-3 team can take comfort in the positives after another loss — well, you know that it’s going to be a long season.
We were listening to the 1960s station on our Sirius XM radio in our car the other day when we heard one of our favorite tunes, Sundays Will Never be the Same by Spanky and the Gang. The lyrics are about a lost love and how their Sundays together were special, but they seem appropriate for New England Patriots fans these days:
Now I wake up Sunday morning
Sunday’s just another day
Sunny afternoons that made me feel so warm inside
Have turned as cold and gray as ashes
As I feel the embers die
Sunday will never be the same