Put a Lid On Your Trash Talkin’

So, my beloved Broncos apparently forgot there was a football game to be played yesterday.

Losing sucks, but it’s part of being a diehard fan. You have to take the lows with the highs. It hurts that I waited 15 years to see my team make it back to the Big Show, only to be rewarded with that performance. A more competitive game would have been easier to swallow. Instead, it was over 12 seconds in. Seriously, that opening snap (or lack thereof) just set the tone. There was an immediate, undeniable sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and it only spread as the minutes ticked by. Still, I love my team. This loss changes nothing.

I do want to take a moment to examine the culture of sports fandom, though. I promise it’ll be interesting, even if you don’t give a crap about football.

Leading up to the game, there was a lot of trash talking taking place. Especially on Facebook. Me? I refused to step into the fray. As passionate as I am about my team, and as confident as I felt, I never made a single disparaging remark about the opposition. I have too much respect for the Seahawks as an organization, and for the team they had assembled. “Any given Sunday” is a very true axiom. I wished my Seattle fans luck and told them the best team would win. Which is exactly what happened. There was no bragging in the weeks leading up to the game, and in fact, my lone post at all involved the fact that 2014 is the Chinese Year of the Horse, a fact I hoped was a good omen. (It turned out to be more like The Omen, but whatever). The point is, I chose to remain classy, and took the high road. It wasn’t always easy, considering I live in the Pacific Northwest, and there are a lot of Seahawks fans here. Even in Portland, which I’ll never quite understand. It’s not even the same state! Regional pride is a big thing. Because I was respectful of my friends, I expected the same in return.

Made sense at the time.
Made sense at the time.

Instead, before the game was even over…officially, anyway (because it was over long before it was over)…I started receiving gloating messages from a family member. A family member who lives on the East Coast, and who never talks to me. His tone was very “in your face.” He has no vested interest in the Seahawks (that I’m aware of, anyway). Instead, he seemingly felt the need to rub in my face the fact that my team had lost. For no apparent reason whatsoever. Had we discussed the game beforehand, or football in particular, or sports in general, I might have expected something from him. But we didn’t. So when he declared Peyton Manning a “choker” and said I “should have rooted for the hometown team,” I was caught off guard. First off, Peyton didn’t choke: it was a full-team effort rife with dropped passes, poorly executed running plays, etc. Second, if I do have a hometown, it’s Portland. See above. So I explained carefully that “I bleed orange and blue” and support my team through thick and thin. Only to find more sarcastic negativity posted to my FB feed. So, I called him out on it. Told him he was out of line, and that if the tables were turned, I wouldn’t give him a hard time or tear apart his team. Was I being overly sensitive? I don’t know. Maybe a little. But as a diehard fan, losing hurts, and I only want to be treated the way I treat others. Fair is fair. I felt better for standing my ground. And I got the following response from a friend.

I never understood the compulsion by sports fans to rub it in when their team won or my team lost. Last I checked, neither of us was on the field making the plays, ergo, we have no control of the outcome. With that being said, why do we feel the need to say “We kicked your ass!” No. You didn’t. Neither of us was on the field of play. Secondly, there’s not just sportsmanlike conduct by the players….the fans should respect the sport, as well. My team wins, I pat my buddy on the shoulder and tell him, hell of an effort and move on. My team loses, I shake my head and internalize the disappointment and hope that my friends show me the same respect. Seems I may be stepping into a personal matter, but thought I share my thoughts on this and let you know that I feel your pain. Consider this a slap on the shoulder and your boys gave it a hell of an effort.
Thank you, John. You summed it up perfectly. /END RANT. (I’ll save my distaste for bandwagon-jumpers, of which Seattle has quite a few, for another post).

talking-trashSpeaking of the game, in a more lighthearted way…

We had invited a couple of friends over. One had prior plans, another cancelled at the last minute due to illness. Fortunately, I had also asked my neighbors if they wanted to stop by a couple days earlier, and they said that would be fun.

Here’s the thing: I have lived next door to these two for seven years. They moved in two months after I did, back in 2006. They’re a nice couple who have grown into a family of 4 during that time. I’ve considered them friends for a long time now.

And yet, this was the first time we’d ever had them over.

It’s just one of those things. We’d wave hello in passing, chat when we were both out back on our patios, borrow the occasional egg or cup of sugar from each other (though I seem to have done the majority of the borrowing over the years). We’d always say “we should have you over sometime,” but sometime never seemed to materialize. Life just got in the way, I suppose. Now that our “sometimes” are dwindling since we’ll be moving soon, I wanted to make a stronger effort to get to know them better before we left, and the Super Bowl turned out to be the perfect event. They came over right as the game was starting, and ended up staying nearly six hours. This was great, because not only did we have a blast, but they provided a nice distraction from the game for me. Had it been just Tara and I, I’d have been much grumpier than I was. Instead, we shared stories. And alcohol. We talked politics and religion and the paranormal and family life. We played with their kids. Their kids played with our cat. We played records. Tara danced with their 3 y/o son, who couldn’t stop feeling her up. In short, we truly did get to know each other better than we ever had, and it was a great time. It makes moving bittersweet, though on parting (I offered to call them a cab, but they chose to walk the five steps to their front door instead) we promised to get together again. Ironic that we might see more of them once we move, than we ever did in all the years they were right next door.

So it was a great evening, despite the Broncos’ poor showing, and the fact that I woke up this morning with a doozy of a hangover. Turns out mixing vodka, gin, wine, and tequila can sort of mess your head up a little. Who knew?

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Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

21 thoughts on “Put a Lid On Your Trash Talkin’

  1. Mark, I loved the response from your friend, John, because he’s right…

    “My team wins, I pat my buddy on the shoulder and tell him, hell of an effort and move on. My team loses, I shake my head and internalize the disappointment and hope that my friends show me the same respect.”

    Boy, you should see how the sports fans here in Philly react when then lose. And you should see how they act when it’s a home game and the opposing team fans visit out city. NASTY. And especially if they’re playing NY.

    Sounds like (despite the Bronco’s) you and Tara had a great Super Bowl Sunday with your neighbors.


    1. Those regional rivalries are especially wicked! San Francisco/Oakland is a good example. Of course, New York/Boston. And even Portland/Seattle, back when we both had NBA teams. I’m not surprised to hear that Philly is the same way!


  2. I was thinking of you Mark. I was hoping you were ok throughout the whole game. I knew it would be disappointing for you but I’m glad you didn’t get too heated over it. It was still quite a game to watch and I enjoyed it. Glad you had fun with your neighbors.

    Here’s hoping the year of the horse brings you more luck next time!


  3. Dude, just like choosing a team on which to bestow your loyalty, pick a drink, why don’t ya? I couldn’t agree more with that assessment of fandom. It’s the year of the horse, not the horses ass, after all.

    Being the wife of a loyal NY Yankees fan after their last season, well, I know all about it. I’m glad he’s not a fair weather fan. It makes me kinda proud of him to know he sticks with his team even when they choke. There’s always next season, right?


    1. LOL. It wasn’t planned! I started out with a couple of Bloody Marys that morning. You know, to perk up the system a little. Then, come game time, I switched to gin and tonics. The neighbors brought a bottle of wine over, and I had to be polite, right? And then they started talking about this great bottle of tequila they had, how it was smooth and good enough to drink straight, and…well…we had to be polite again, you know? (He was right. It was good). Oh, and I forgot about the Honey Jack whiskey we were sampling, though I’m pretty sure I skipped that one…


  4. I spoke my piece and I’m fine with just letting my comment speak forever more.

    I’m happy that you and Tara had such a great time yesterday.

    I’m still surprised that you got a hangover Mister “I never get a hangover” Petruska. First time for everything never rang truer than this morning.

    Congrats on your offer. Very excited for you and Tara!!

    Love you both!!


    1. The only other time I really felt sick was also after mixing alcohol, during our trip to Bend in 2012. That was one experience I won’t soon forget, try as I might!

      Re the offer: we’re very excited! Though it was a little emotional at first. I have such mixed feelings about that place…


  5. Um, try being a Cleveland fan. I don’t care about sports, but I do feel bad for my husband, every season, with every team.

    Better late than never with the neighbors!


  6. Sorry about your Broncos, Mark, but your reflection on fandom is one even I can tolerate–not an easy feat, I might add. Glad you all had a good time and invited the neighbors over before you finally move. Weird how it takes so long sometimes to act on friendship. Congrats on THAT win, at last. Wish you were our neighbors. We’d have a blast!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    1. “Better late than never” is the axiom here! I’m glad your eyes didn’t glaze over before you got too deeply into my post, LOL. Hence the disclaimer. I try to make everything at least somewhat interesting!

      You’re right. You and Sara would make great neighbors. Our Christmas tree would be hung with nothing but recycled ornaments, every year!


  7. Sorry your team lost, it’s very discouraging I know. Both Winnipeg & Edmonton had really poor seasons this past year & it’s hard to keep your spirits up when your team is doing so badly. Great about the neighbors though. Maybe they’ll invite you back after you move & you can spy on the people who buy your place!


    1. They joked about buying the place themselves, knocking down the wall, and suddenly having a 2600 square foot townhouse with 6 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, 4 full bathrooms, and 2 half-baths. Now, that would be one unique property!


  8. Your friend said some of the same things I have said (we have no control over the outcome of a game, we aren’t on the field, etc. etc.). My heart went out to you during the game even in the midst of my own near-hysterical excitement. I deliberately didn’t post any comment to you on Facebook — not even condolences — because I knew you must be hurting and you needed some time to let the wounds heal just a little before I said anything at all. I did post some “Go Hawks” kind of stuff in the weeks leading up to the game but I never bashed the Broncos or Peyton. How about some respect, right? You know that as a former New Orleanean I watched the Manning boys grow up and I will always root for them (unless they’re playing the Seahawks, or the Saints). I love Peyton! Now, there ARE a couple of quarterbacks I seriously don’t like but I would never even admit that to my friends who are their fans. Anyway nice piece here…. glad you had fun with your neighbors!


    1. Thanks, Nancy. You are never one to rub things in, and I appreciate that. There’s nothing wrong with cheering your team on leading up to the game! Just as long as you’re cheering YOUR team on and not bashing the opponent. That’s the difference. But hey, sports bring out both the best – and worst – in all of us, you know? Congrats on your win! Must be an exciting day in Seattle today.


  9. As much as I agree that shit talking isnt classy I didn A lot of it in my head as I watched the game. I am a die hard pats fan so after the Bronco’s beat us, and my hatred for Peyton (well both Manning’s) runs deep I watched the game just to be sure the Bronco’s didn’t win. And honestly by the end of the game I felt bad. I mean fact is I hate Peyton because he is a damn good QB and gives Tom serious competition. To see the team lose that badly was embarrassing and not a show of how they really are as a team. As funny as it was to watch I wish it was a closer game to really show why everyone had such hatred for them, because they are actually a good team.


    1. I have to admit, there are certain teams that just bring out the worst in a person…even me. When it comes to the Raiders, for instance, all bets are off and I just might fall into the trash talking trap myself.


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