Why Vikings Fandom is Particularly Difficult

Being a fan of the Minnesota Vikings is no easy task, the team proved it once again on Sunday. Against the New York Jets, the team took a 20-6 lead heading into the second half. When it looked like the Vikings might finally win by blowout, they found themselves in a one-score contest by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. They escaped with the win at home, though not before requiring a goal-line stand and a game-sealing interception. As my friend pointed out, the Vikings gave us “another heart attack.” Of course, it feels great to grab a win, but games like these are what makes it so challenging to be a Vikings fan. Do not get me wrong I am a huge Vikings fan and always be, however, it is not for the faint of heart.

The Dichotomy of Vikings Fans
From personal experience, all Vikings fans fall somewhere on a spectrum from the extremely hopeful, optimistic fan to the devoid-of-hope, pessimistic fan. I know fans on both ends of the spectrum and both have had a very eventful season so far. The optimistic fan gets their hopes up before every season and every game, very similar to what many people consider to be a “diehard” fan. Optimistic fans this season have had cardiac event upon cardiac event. These cardiac events have been induced by the Vikings’ habits of taking great leads, surrendering them, and then triumphing in the eleventh hour this season. These antics would drive anybody crazy, however, the optimistic fan does not learn. They go into the next game with the exact same mindset just to go on an identical emotional rollercoaster. All I can do is commend the faith that these fans have, I would not call it ignorance but it certainly provides a bliss that lasts right up until the roller coaster drops.

On the other hand, pessimistic fans often get a bad rap. The lack of faith that a pessimistic fan has in the team is a little saddening. However, at this point, the viewpoint is understandable. When looking at the history of the Vikings, there is not much reason for optimism. The franchise is a horrid 0-4 in Super Bowls and has plenty of other nightmare-inducing moments that could wear away at the faith of any fan. Do not mistake their pessimism for a lack of fandom though, the pessimistic fan just wants to minimize the pain of the letdown. It is the mindset we all employ when we are scared to feel down; we go into the game with low expectations so we cannot be disappointed. The pessimist view makes it so hard to enjoy a win though because a win is not enough for the pessimist because they will expect to all come crashing down the next week. We all do this from time to time, after the Jets brought the game within one score multiple times in the second half last week, so many Vikings fans were quick to jump on the possibility of a loss. So many of us were quick to point the finger and Kirk for choking or the defense for letting Garrett Wilson have a career day. The pessimist focuses on the negatives even after winning. A Super Bowl win may be the only way the pessimist enjoys a season.

Since this is a spectrum, there will always be fans who fall somewhere in the middle, in fact, most of us do. We understand that the Vikings will not win every game, but we have a certain level of hope going into each game that they will win. We like to think of ourselves as realists, the level-headed thinkers that can root for the Vikings while understanding the team has holes. The middle may be the best place to reside on the spectrum because we can protect our emotions while also enjoying small successes. However, as of late, it seems a lot of us have been shifting toward the pessimistic end of the spectrum due to close games and the media’s perception of the team. Power rankings and analysts do not tend to regard this Vikings team as a true contender as their record suggests. We seem to have lost some faith in this team in one of the best seasons the team has had in recent years.

Now this may seem intense for the topic of fandom that seems rather lighthearted and I am not writing to give you a psych eval, but I am writing to urge a little more optimism into your fanhood. Fans seem to be forgetting that the Vikings own the second-best record in the league. We are too afraid to enjoy a great record because of past letdowns, but we have to take the time to enjoy wins. Sports are designed to take the highs with the lows. Ride the rollercoaster. We cannot go on so scared of the next “heart attack” that we do not let ourselves enjoy a 10-2 record. Have a little optimism in your purple and gold heart because the Vikings may just surprise us all this year.
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