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Wisconsin Badgers fandom examined

Welcome our new writer Nick Snow to the site!

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Please welcome our new writer, Nick Snow, to the site. This is his first post and I expect all of you to BE NICE! - Drew

We’ve now had a few weeks to take a deep breath from another fall and winter of Badgers sports. I know that many of you might have put Badgers sports back in the cupboard until next year. Out of sight and out of mind right? That’s a strong option, and one that I normally would deploy, but it never seems to help us get ready for next year.

I think it’s time to try and cleanse and prepare ourselves for the upcoming year. We need to get over what happened this year or our old demons could haunt us again next year. The recovery probably looks different depending on the type of heartbroken fan you are. Some people are “next year” people, who are the best type if you ask me. They are disconnected just enough but also have hope for what could be on the horizon. That always wears well, and I wish I was that person, but, alas, I am not. I can try to fake not being disappointed when everyone knows the truth.

Then there are the people who always keep it real. They spend days like right now trying to set expectations low enough that they can’t be disappointed, and regardless of the highs, they see the pitfalls well before many. I applaud those of you that can do this without buying into the hype every year. In theory, I love the idea of doing this, but I have to be honest, it is not me. I let my hopes and dreams about Wisconsin get way too out of hand to even qualify for participation.

Kansas State v Wisconsin Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Which leads me to another type of fan.

The way too optimistic fan. That’s me. Every year it’s the same. I get my hopes up and set expectations way too high and come screaming back to earth when I am let down. This post is for those types of fans. We need to have a little fun at our own expense before we start the mental gymnastics of preparing for multiple national championships this fall.

I always fall back on making fun of myself and how “in deep” I am. I love to whip out the flow chart of the Wisconsin Badgers sports fan cycle that shows us at the top with high hopes and at the bottom in pain. It’s too perfect and it got me thinking about analogies that describe the Badger fan experience.

Personally, it’s always been the “vicious cycle”. By definition, a vicious cycle is a sequence of reciprocal cause and effect in which two or more elements intensify and aggravate each other leading to a worsening situation. In our situation the sequence looks a lot like the flow chart that I referred to. The elements are hope and pain. Hope right now looks a lot like Graham Mertz throwing a 50-yard TD in spring practice. Potential pain in the future could look like a back breaking interception down a field goal with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter of an important game.

Northwestern v Wisconsin Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

I would include more examples but none of us need that. It’s always the same though. One causes the other, and because of that I am forced to latch on to something else that gets my hopes up like Johnny Davis dropping 30 against Houston, and sure enough the cycle repeats. Is it dramatic? Yes. But it’s somewhat true right? We can’t deny it.

The best analogy that I’ve heard came from some good conversation with fellow Wisconsin fans. We talked about how every year we get on a roller coaster. You get on when you feel ready, and get off after a brutal loss in the NCAA Tournament for Badgers basketball. In between, a series of events give us dramatic highs and lows.

First, the climb to the top. Think spring practice, summer workouts and fall camp. All the brief highlight videos posted by UW cause us to foam at the mouth, waiting to see it all in action. The initial drop is the most thrilling. Sudden and all at once, a feeling of euphoria sweeps over us as we enter another journey. That’s the start of a nice seven month stretch of football, volleyball, basketball, hockey and more depending on your respective interests.

The parts that come next are unknown but not unfamiliar. Maybe we’ll go upside down? That sort of pure elation was on full display when Chucky Hepburn went to the bank against Purdue to win the Big Ten Championship. Braelon Allen to the house against Nebraska? Another thrilling moment of sudden drop that kept us wanting more. But what happens when things go wrong? Like when the person in front of us throws up and…well you know.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Losing to Minnesota for a trip to Indy and a Big Ten West division title last year felt like that. Part of the roller coaster, but also completely out of our hands. Or what about the roller coaster getting stuck upside down? That’s what March Madness felt like this year. It was fun to be on the ride to that point but to be hanging upside down feels like it would be absolute torture with no way-out. I’m thinking of the Iowa State vs. Wisconsin game. Brutal from whistle to whistle but what choice did we have? I got on the roller coaster to begin with and my only way off was to wait for someone to help me down or fix the ride.

I’m sure I could go on and on about the Badger sports fan experience and analogies of my own fandom, but I want to laugh at everyone else so I can heal. So, let’s hear it. What type of fan are you? And what analogy would you use to describe your fandom? Let’s have some fun while we try to recover and cleanse before our next chapter begins.